Simple, sauteed pea shoots have turned out to be one of our favorite vegetable side dishes this spring. They almost always land on our table when we see them at dim sum, but we hadn’t really thought about cooking them at home until recently. They are tender and sweet and they cook almost instantly in a hot saute pan. What I like most about them is that they have the softness of sauteed spinach, but the stems have just a bit of bite which makes them a little more interesting to eat. And since my boys already like peas, eating another part of the plant has been kind of a fun discovery for them. What would even be more fun is getting some peas going in our garden and then harvesting both the young shoots and the pods for a real garden to table experience. There you go — another thing to add to our to do list.
While not available in most supermarkets as far as I can tell, you will probably find an abundance of pea shoots seasonally at your local farmer’s market or most well-stocked Asian markets. This is truly a lovely taste of spring.
Simple Garlicky Sauteed Pea Shoots
- Wash pea shoots well and drain. Discard any shoots that look wilted or have larger, tougher stems. Roughly chop the pea shoots (about 2″ intervals is fine, but the size is not fussy ). Keep in mind that the shoots shrink considerably as they cook, they are roughly half to a third of the volume after cooking.
- Peel 2 garlic cloves. Crush them but leave them whole.
- Heat up a saute pan with 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil. When the pan is hot, add the crushed garlic cloves and saute them for 2 minutes until they become fragrant and start to turn golden.
- Toss in your washed, chopped pea shoots. Be careful since any remaining water clinging to the pea shoots may spatter when you add them to a hot pan. Saute until pea shoots are wilted (about 2-3 minutes). Sprinkle with sea salt to taste and serve.
You might also like these simple and delicious veggie sides: Mythili’s Edamame with Coconut, Cumin and Chilli, Simplest Snap Peas, Carrot Raita, Indian Spiced Spinach, Bakesale Betty’s Killer Mayo-Free Coleslaw
Spring has sprung and with it we are diving into our favorite vegetable of the moment, the noble and delicious artichoke. When I eat artichokes, I often find myself daydreaming about vacations in Rome, foggy drives through coastal artichoke fields in Monterey, and the incredible crispy “Carciofi Alla Judea” at Locanda Osteria in the mission — the stuff foodie dreams are made of. My family’s very favorite simple preparation, “Ali’s Artichokes”, is pretty dreamy in its own right. I think my boys mostly love artichokes because they are fun to eat and I suppose that’s just fine too. Happy Spring!
The noble and delicious artichoke.
"Ali's artichokes" our favorite way to eat them.
"Artichoke Friend" (with his pal the carrot), by Luca
We're waiting for Sherm, mascot of our garden, to start producing!
My cousin Ali, a master of the grill, taught me to make artichokes this way. That little bit of crispness and char make them especially delicious.
- Start your steamer and have it hot and ready to go because artichokes start to discolor the moment you cut them.
- While your steamer is getting hot, trim your artichokes. Here’s a great video by Chef Ian Knauer (below). If you’re planning to trim them ahead, toss them in a bowl of water to which you have added a generous squeeze of lemon to keep them from discoloring. ** For this preparation, we like our artichokes trimmed and cut in half. We don’t bother removing the chokes, because they’re easier to scoop out after steaming. **
- Steam until just tender. I steam them for 20 minutes and then start checking them every 5-10 minutes. Once tender, I let them cool a bit until they’re cool enough to handle. I scoop out the choke with a spoon and then “marinate” them in olive oil and sea salt. You can grill them right away or leave them covered in the refrigerator overnight.
- Before serving, give them 5 minutes on a grill or under the broiler to crisp them and give them a bit of char.
Our family has been on a quest to include more vegetables and whole grains in our diet. As we’ve gone down this path, I’ve realized that it helps to mix it up and go beyond our standby salads and steamed/stir fried vegetables. So we often have a simple pureed soup as a starter or side to our meal. What’s nice is that you can make a soup like this over the weekend or on an evening when you have a bit more time and you’ve got a readymade vegetable course for a busy night. Smooth, pureed soups are also baby-friendly which is another bonus.
Genius Cauliflower Soup
One of the pureed soups I make most often is this ingeniously simple cauliflower soup from one of my absolute favorite cookbooks “Cooking By Hand” by Paul Bertoli. Cauliflower is one of those things I’ve noticed a lot of people actively dislike, but stay with me here…. even if you’re not a fan, try this one! It might just change your mind. In the preface to this recipe, Paul Bertoli himself admits to not liking cauliflower, but enjoys this soup because it brings out the vegetable’s finest qualities. I agree. When prepared this way, cauliflower has an incredibly silky, velvety texture. You would swear that this soup was cream-based.
With only 2 ingredients (cauliflower and onion), it couldn’t be easier to make and or more versatile. It’s perfection as is, but you can also dress it up with condiments (crispy shallots, garlicky croutons, herbs, a drizzle of your finest olive oil, a pinch of spices), or use it as a sauce for a crispy fish or chicken fillet, even add it to other sauces where you want a little creaminess (mac and cheese). It’s a great dunk for a sandwich or a piece of garlic bread. So grab a head of cauliflower and an onion and give it a go!
(from “Cooking By Hand” by Paul Bertoli)
Ingredients: 1 Head of Cauliflower, 1 Onion, Water, Salt & Pepper
- Wash and trim one head of cauliflower and set aside.
- Saute one medium onion in a little olive oil in a large pot until translucent (about 5 minutes).
- Add the cauliflower to the pot along with 1/2 cup water. Cover tightly and let braise for 30 minutes (cauliflower should be tender by this point).
- Uncover the pot and add 4 1/2 cups water and simmer uncovered for another 20 minutes. Let cool.
- When cool enough, puree in blender. Beware of hot foods in a blender — they can explode on you!
- When ready to serve, warm through and season with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzle of good quality olive oil.
Here’s a great post by a fellow blogger in the Bay Area – Tricia O’Keefe Girbal, who writes a neat little blog called Dish by Trish. Trish is a Registered Dietitian and a foodie who believes that delicious and healthy foods can co-exist. I loved her recent post on ways to get kids to eat more vegetables and she graciously accepted when I asked her to share her post on our blog. I hope you find some good tips below to get our little munchkins eating their veggies!
p.s. I can vouch for tip #8. We did this and Ria found incredible joy in eating veggies right off the plant. Veggie garden = gateway to regular veggie eating!
We already know that fruits and veggies are associated with good health and reduced disease risk. Unfortunately, very few of us are meeting recommendations for these foods, particularly the little ones. Less than 10% of kids are eating the recommended amount of fruits and veggies.
Two of the biggest things that predict whether kids will eat veggies are preference and availability. Let’s first start with making these foods available. Let’s give our kids veggies regularly and let them taste-test different foods. Even if they don’t like it or try it the first few times, they may eventually warm up to it.
A new study finds that the more (higher amount) a certain veggie was given to kids, the more they ate that veggie. Here they discuss carrots, “As the amount of carrots the kids were given increased, from 30 grams to 60 grams (about a half cup) to 90 grams, so did the amount eaten. Doubling the portion size of the carrots resulted in the kids eating 47% more.” The kids ate up to twice the amount- but after that there was no effect. Studies have also shown that kids are more likely to try new foods if they helped prepare them or grew them from a garden.
10 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat More Fruits & Veggies:
- Serve fruits and veggies with every meal or snack. Kids need about 1.5 cups of fruits and 2-3 cups of vegetables every day. Make half the veggies leafy greens or orange veggies, such as spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and carrots.
- Keep a bowl of fresh fruits on the counter. Refrigerate cut up fruits and vegetables in small bags for easy snacks on the run.
- Encourage kids to be experimental and let them regularly taste-test different veggies. Trying new foods helps kids to grow into adventurous eaters. Try pairing some new foods with some of their favorites. Praise your child for being brave and trying new foods.
- Offer small tastes at first and introduce one new food at a time. Try to offer new foods at the beginning of the meal when they are hungry.
- Make food fun and beautiful. Give a veggie a clever name. Mix up the textures of foods (cooked pureed veggies or raw veggies with a dipping sauce). Mix up the temperatures of foods (serve cool, raw veggies with a warm soup). Mix up the colors on their plate. Serve a rainbow of colored foods (brown rice, black beans, red tomatoes, and greens or broccoli).
- Involve them in shopping, prepping and cooking. Let them help set the table, bring food to the table, chop herbs and greens with safe scissors, crack eggs, and be in charge of stirring. Here are some quick tips on involving kids in cooking and shopping.
- Stay positive and be patient. Kids may take a while to warm up to veggies. Studies show some kids need to be offered a food up to ten times before they will taste it. Keep re-introducing the new food periodically. Don’t give up.
- Plant a small vegetable garden. Research shows kids are more accepting of veggies and eat more of them when they plant them themselves.
- Add a little dip, butter, or cheese. A tiny bit won’t hurt them and it might make it more palatable for them.
- Set a good example. Kids pick up on adult attitudes towards foods. Eat at the table with them and encourage conversation about how the food tastes, smells and looks. Eat your veggies too.
Galloping Good Eggplant
- ½ cup eggplant, diced
- ½ cup fresh mushrooms, diced
- ¾ cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- ¾ oz. mozzarella cheese
Add oil to skillet. Sauté eggplant, mushrooms and tomatoes in skillet until tender but cooked. Drain off extra juice and top with cheese. Let it melt. Makes 1½ cups of vegetables.
Recipe adapted from Produce for Better Health Foundation.