January 16, 2013

Power players

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

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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