Learning to Love Veggies

Anyone who’s enjoyed the advantages of belonging to a CSA is also familiar with the challenges. What is one meant to do, for example, with a half-dozen rutabagas? And who even knows what kohlrabi is, anyway? Then there are the vegetables that, while perfectly common, could certainly qualify as unpopular. September’s growing season has a few such contenders: Eggplant, celery and the mini-cabbage symbolic of every childhood refusal to eat our vegetables, the brussels sprout.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom of 5-year-olds, though, these vegetables aren’t actually icky—they’re just misunderstood. Learning to love veggies is just one of those rights of passage in the food world. To help you open your heart to these lovely and (mostly) unloved vegetables, we’ve put together some helpful hints and delicious recipes designed to change your mind.

Eggplant_Bruschetta_4

Eggplant—Not As Scary As It Looks

Eggplant, despite its irresistibly beautiful purple skin, has a couple of qualities that tend to scare folks off. Its uniquely mushy texture, for example, is not much of a selling point. Then there’s the preparation, which often involves wringing the moisture from wilted eggplant rounds. Who wants to launder their vegetables before eating them?

Okay, so that’s the bad news. Here’s the good news: Not all eggplant recipes are created equal. Eggplant Parmesan is a perfect intro eggplant dish, and a good baba ghanoush can make you forget you’re eating eggplant at all. If you’re ready for a straightforward eggplant experience—free of mushiness or wringing, try TLD’s recipe for Eggplant and Za’atar Onion Bruschetta.

Celery—Typecast as an After-School Snack

Less offensive to most than eggplant, celery still suffers from being sidelined, appearing most often as a vehicle for peanut butter or ranch dip. But this time of year, when Oregon’s farms are busy producing luscious, deep green bunches of celery, it’s definitely worth trying something new!

Stir-fries, for example, benefit from celery’s juicy crunch. Or try using diced celery, carrots, and onions (a mirepoix, if you want to get French about it) as a bed upon which to roast a chicken or pork loin. But really, with the temperatures up where they are this week, this recipe for chilled Celery Vichyssoise is probably your best bet.

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts—Your New Favorite, Just You Wait!

While the Brussels sprout certainly gets the worst rap of the three veggies on our list, it’s also the least deserving. Brussels sprouts, like asparagus or broccoli, are frustratingly easy to overcook, but when cooked properly (or not cooked at all), their texture and flavor are exceptional.

Sprouts are due to be in season later this month. When they are, you should, without hesitation, try a shredded sprout salad: shred your sprouts paper thin on a mandoline and toss with a little grana padano, salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar. Also, try tossing halved sprouts in with the next batch of root vegetables you roast, or for a quicker version, this recipe from the New York Times for Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts. Guaranteed to make even the most devout sprout-haters change their tune.

Editor’s note: Adapted from original post on September 15, 2011

Ever changed your mind about a vegetable you used to hate? Tell us what it was in the comments!