Power players

You know they’re good for you — now find out how good they can taste

Washington Post ServiceJanuary 16, 2013 

  • Main Dish Napa Cabbage, Shiitake and Pork Fried Rice Napa cabbage, also known as Chinese cabbage, has a more delicate taste than traditional green cabbage, and a softer texture. Here it’s an integral part of a fried rice dish that features a good balance of vegetables, meat and rice. To make it vegetarian, double the amount of carrots and mushrooms and omit the pork. 1 tablespoon mild olive oil 4 medium scallions, white and light-green parts, cut crosswise into slices (1/2 cup) 1 medium carrot, diced (1/2 cup) 8 ounces lean ground pork 1/8 teaspoon salt 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms (stems discarded), thinly sliced 8 ounces Napa cabbage, cut into strips 2 cups cooked rice 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil 1 large egg, lightly beaten Heat oil in a large braising pan over medium-high. Cook scallions, stirring, 2 minutes. Add carrot; cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add pork and salt; cook, stirring, a few minutes, breaking up lumps. Add shiitakes and cook, stirring every 30 seconds or so, about 5 minutes, until softened and just starting to brown. Add the cabbage. Cook, stirring, about 5 minutes, until wilted. Stir in rice, soy sauce and sesame oil. Move cooked mixture to edges of pan, creating a well in the center. Pour in beaten egg and scramble until cooked. Mix egg with rice mixture, breaking up any clumps of egg. Taste and add soy sauce and/or sesame oil as needed. Makes 6 servings. Source: Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, Washington Post Service Per serving: 290 calories, 14 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates, 16 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 70 mg cholesterol, 310 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar.
  • Side Dish Lemon Garlic Israeli Couscous With Cauliflower 2 cups dried Israeli couscous Salt 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic 12 ounces cauliflower florets, broken into pieces about 3/4-inch long at the widest point 1/2 cup no-salt-added chicken broth Freshly ground pepper Finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons 1/2 teaspoon sugar 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley Prepare the couscous according to the package directions, making sure to add a pinch of salt to the cooking water. Meanwhile, heat oil in a deep 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low. Cook garlic about 8 minutes, until soft, stirring often. Stir in cauliflower. Raise heat to medium-high; add broth, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cover. Cook 7 to 9 minutes, until cauliflower is tender when pierced with a fork. Uncover and cook just until broth has evaporated, about 1 minute. In a large bowl, toss cooked couscous with lemon zest and juice, sugar and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cauliflower mixture and toss to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 8 servings. Source: Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, Washington Post Service Per serving: 210 calories, 6 g protein, 34 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 60 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar.
  • Soup White Bean, Andouille and Kale Soup This hearty soup tastes even better the second day. 2 tablespoons olive oil 3/4 cup diced onion (from 1 small onion) 1 medium carrot, diced (1/2 cup) 1 rib celery, diced (1/2 cup) Salt 8 ounces fresh andouille sausage, casings removed 3 ounces peeled, seeded winter squash, such as butternut, diced 1 medium potato, peeled and diced (6 ounces) 1/2 cup canned no-salt-added chopped Italian-style tomatoes, drained 15.5-ounce can no-salt-added Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed (1 2/3 cups) 1/3 cup uncooked basmati or long-grain white rice 6 cups no-salt-added chicken broth, or more as needed Freshly ground pepper 4 ounces kale, baby kale or Swiss chard, thick stems removed and discarded, leaves torn Heat the oil in a 4-to-5-quart soup pot over medium-high. Cook onion about 3 minutes, until it starts to soften. Add carrot, celery and salt to taste; cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add sausage; cook about 5 minutes, breaking up clumps. Add squash, potato, tomatoes, beans, rice and broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook about 20 minutes, adjusting the heat to maintain a slow boil, until rice is cooked and potatoes are tender. While soup is cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add kale and cook 2 minutes (1 minute for baby kale). Drain immediately. Stir greens into finished soup, adjusting seasoning as needed. Makes 8 servings. Source: Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, Washington Post Service Per serving: 220 calories, 10 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 35 mg cholesterol, 370 mg sodium, 5 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar.
  • Side Dish Roasted Rutabagas With Golden Raisin-Maple Vinaigrette Here’s something I never thought I’d say about rutabaga: Yum. It gets sweeter when roasted, and the vinaigrette finishes the dish with sweet and sour flavors 2 pounds rutabaga 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil Salt and freshly ground pepper 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 2 tablespoons maple syrup 1/3 cup golden raisins, coarsely chopped Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut off a thin slice at the root and stem ends of the rutabaga. Stand it on a cutting board, and use a large, sharp knife to slice off the peel, cutting from top to bottom. Cut into 1-inch chunks. Toss rutabaga with 1 tablespoon of the oil in a nonstick roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast 30 to 35 minutes, turning every 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil with the vinegar, maple syrup and raisins. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk to emulsify. Transfer the rutabaga to a serving dish; spoon the vinaigrette over the rutabaga. Serve warm. Makes 5 servings. Source: Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, Washington Post Service Per serving: 160 calories, 3 g protein, 29 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 95 mg sodium, 5 g dietary fiber, 21 g sugar
  • Side Dish Twice-Baked Curried Potatoes With Savoy Cabbage These can be made a day in advance. Cover with aluminum foil and reheat in a 350-degree oven for about 25 minutes, removing foil after 15 minutes. 1 tablespoon olive oil 5 teaspoons unsalted butter, or more to taste 1 1/3 cups finely diced onion (about 6 ounces) Salt 8 ounces savoy cabbage, cut into 3/4-inch dice 1 tablespoon curry powder 2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, baked until tender, flesh scooped out, shells discarded 6 ounces plain nonfat yogurt 1 cup no-salt-added chicken broth 1/2 teaspoon sugar 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro Freshly ground pepper Coat six 6-ounce ramekins with cooking oil spray and place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the oil and 3 teaspoons of the butter in a large nonstick sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and salt to taste. Reduce heat to medium; cook 6 to 7 minutes, until the onion is very soft. Add cabbage and cook, stirring every minute or so, 6 to 8 minutes, until soft. Add curry powder; cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Mash potato flesh in a large bowl. (Small lumps are fine.) Stir in cabbage mixture, yogurt, broth, sugar and cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon or pipe mixture into ramekins. Melt remaining 2 teaspoons butter and brush over potato. Bake about 20 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings. Source: Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, Washington Post Service Per serving: 190 calories, 5 g protein, 31 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 15 mg cholesterol, 110 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugar.
  • Nutrition highlights All four vegetables belong to the cabbage (Brassica) family, noted for its cancer-fighting phytonutrients. Here are particulars, per 1/2 cup to 1 cup serving: Rutabaga: 66 calories, 3 grams fiber; more than half the recommended daily value of vitamin C and 10 to 15 percent of the required phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and manganese. Cabbage: 20 calories, 2 grams fiber; also rich in vitamin C, provides nearly half the daily value of vitamin K (important for bone health and normal blood clotting) and is a very good source of manganese, vitamin B6 and folate. Cauliflower: 14 calories, 1 gram fiber; delivers a good amount of potassium and, like its cousins, is an excellent source of vitamin C. Kale: 36 calories, 3 grams fiber; excellent source of vitamin K; also provides 3 1/2 times the daily value of vitamin A, is rich in manganese and contains significant amounts of copper, potassium and calcium. Source: livestrong.com, nutritiondata.self.com

Even in the bright new days of the new year, cabbage, kale, rutabaga and cauliflower are nutritional powerhouses in need of a little P.R. They can bring new and unexpected flavors to the table, but ho-hum cooking methods fail to inspire all but the most loyal fans.

For large cabbages like savoy, take a page from what happens to brussels sprouts when shredded and quickly sautéed. With similar treatment, savoy cabbage could become filling for ravioli or mashed into potatoes with caramelized onions. Stir-fried Napa cabbage pairs beautifully with shiitake mushrooms as egg roll filling or in fried rice.

Roasting yields great results for cauliflower, as does pan-steaming. Pair it with acidic ingredients such as citrus or vinegar, and use blanched or steamed bite-size pieces in mixed winter salads.

Humble, homely rutabagas tend to be overlooked altogether. They’re covered with a thin wax, which makes them hard to peel. This is the year to try roasting chunks of rutabaga, then glamorizing them with a sweet-sour dressing.

Kale had quite a run in 2012, worked into Caesar salads, massaged with tahini vinaigrettes and folded into casseroles. If its bitter taste or toughness is a stumbling block, a brief blanch in boiling salted water should do the trick. Or you can add baby kale to softer, sweet vegetables such as winter squashes and carrots.

We have five recipes to get you started.

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