According to American humourist Fran Lebowitz ‘Vegetables are interesting but lack a sense of purpose when unaccompanied by a good cut of meat.’ An amusing quip but only partially true. While meat plays the main role and veggies are relegated to the supporting cast in many culinary productions, veggies often share top billing with meat or even take the lead. And of course, they can have the limelight all to themselves.
It's worth noting that frozen veggies are often cheaper and more nutritious than the fresh equivalent because they are snap frozen soon after harvesting and therefore retain their goodness. Some fresh veggies can sit on the shelves for quite a while after harvesting and therefore will not retain their full nutritional value. If you’re buying frozen veggies shake the package — the contents should rattle. If the veggies have thawed and then been frozen again, they stick together and will not rattle. And they will have lost some of their nutritional value.
Vegetables are essential to a balanced diet. So, is it possible that consuming the right ones could improve your intelligence? After all, author Mark Twain claimed the cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education. Maybe chomping lots of cauli could boost your IQ! Yeah right.
ROASTED VEGETABLE QUICHE
A yummy meal for family or friends. Tip: you will need to cut the pastry to form the correct shape. Join pieces together by slightly overlapping them and pressing together firmly.
2 ready-rolled sheets savoury short pastry
400g peeled and seeded pumpkin
1 tablespoon each: olive oil, fresh thyme leaves
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
8 brown button mushrooms, halved
1 large red capsicum, seeded and thickly sliced
4 large eggs
1/2 cup creamy milk
1/4 cup each: finely grated parmesan cheese, chopped parsley
Lightly oil a 23cm quiche pan — preferably one with a loose base. Line the pan with the pastry allowing the sides to come about 1cm over the rim. Fold the edges in. Prick the base. Chill for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190°C.
Cut the pumpkin into 2.5cm cubes. Place in a roasting pan with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the thyme and garlic. Season. Toss well. Roast for 10 minutes. Add the remaining veggies and stir well. Roast for another 10 minutes.
Line the pastry shell with baking paper and weigh down with baking beans or rice. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans or rice and bake for another 15 minutes until lightly golden.
Place the cooled and roasted veggies evenly into the pastry shell. Beat the eggs, milk, parmesan and parsley together and pour over the veggies. Season.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until the egg is just set. Serves 4.
BEANS, HALLOUMI & HOT GREEN SAUCE
Green Sauce: 1/2 cup pure olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 cup fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Main: 1 tablespoon olive oil
100g halloumi, sliced into 4-6 oblongs
2 cups frozen baby round green beans
5-6 tablespoons garlic hummus
To make the sauce, place the oil, garlic, parsley and basil in a blender and process until smooth. Place in a bowl. Just before serving, microwave on high (100%) power for 30 seconds. Whisk the cheese in well.
Heat the oil in a non-stick, ridged frypan. Pan-fry the halloumi about 2 minutes each side until heated through.
Boil the green beans until tender. Drain well. Add a little green sauce and toss.
Spread the hummus thickly in the centre of a serving plate. Top with the green beans and halloumi. Drizzle with the green sauce then dust with the dukkah. Serves 2.
1 large leek
1/2 cup milk
1 cup grated tasty cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Peel the potatoes. Boil in salted water, until soft.
Meanwhile, melt about 50g of the butter in a saucepan. Wash the leek well. Thinly slice and sweat in the butter until very soft.
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Drain the potatoes, add the milk and remaining butter. Mash well then stir in the cheese and leeks. Season. Pile into a greased baking dish. Fluff up the top with a fork. Brush with extra melted butter if preferred. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden. Great served with pickled red cabbage. Serves 4-6.