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My dad won’t eat most vegetables unless they’re drowned in cream, engulfed in a cheese sauce, or, of course, deep-fried. When dealing with veggie haters (especially kids), new cookbook author Jessica Seinfeld believes tricking them by hiding purees in their favorite foods. Convinced that my dad ate too many limp frozen florets of broccoli or overcooked, mud-colored green beans as a kid, I think he just needs to try some properly cooked vegetables before resorting to Seinfeld’s extreme methods.
First, I attempted to convert him with the Brussels sprout—last year’s “it” vegetable but one that’s always made him gag. I chopped them finely so they were unrecognizable and sautéed them in a bit of butter with a few too many squeezes of lemon. He choked them down, admitting they weren’t as bad as the squishy cotton ball–like orbs of his youth. Not quite success but enough to convince me to keep trying.
This year, I brought home baby Swiss chard and sweet potatoes. My dad finds sweet potatoes too mushy, like baby food, so instead of baking them or mashing them, I roasted them until crisp. First, I peeled and cubed them, then tossed them with salt, pepper, ground cumin and ground coriander. I roasted them in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes, until they were tender within, blistered on the outside. For the Swiss chard, I chopped the leaves and sautéed them with plenty of garlic in olive oil. While he’s never liked the intense flavor of cooked greens, he does love a garlicky Caesar salad.
Too consumed by eating my own dinner, I forgot to notice whether he liked his veggies. Soon, he was tilting the remaining few sweet potatoes in the pan onto his plate.
“I like these. They’re crispy,” he said. Victory!
“The greens, though. They’re nasty. Sorry.”
(The Swiss chard was delicious, actually, if you like that kind of thing.)
Still, after the success of the sweet potatoes, I have no plans to swirl Swiss chard into brownie batter and hope to try again (fish sauce and chile flakes, maybe?). Watch out, Jessica Seinfeld.