It’s the last Saturday in March, National Nutrition Month. The American Dietetic Association set the theme: Eat Right With Color. So far, this month, I did two reviews to honor National Nutrition Month:
Book: Fast, Fresh & Green by Susie Middleton
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication date: 2010
Summary: As evident in the subtitle, Fast, Fresh & Green: More Than 90 Delicious Recipes for Veggie Lovers is all about vegetables–and not just the green ones! This book is arranged by cooking method which I was skeptical about at first, but it turned out to be terrific. I learned a lot both in improving my techniques for methods I already use and in learning some new methods that I could use to add some variety.
Here are the methods she covers: quick-roasting, quick-braising, hands-on sauteing, walk-away sauteing, two-stepping (boiling then finishing the dish in some other way), no cooking, stir-frying, grilling, and baking gratins. Except for baking gratins, these are methods that can be used quickly for weeknight suppers. The gratins are more approriate for days when a bit longer time can be spent in preparation and cooking. Each chapter begins with a foundation recipe for cooking one or more of any vegetable of your choosing. That foundation recipe is followed by recipes that feature a specific vegetable and, often, slightly fancier sauce preparations tailored to that vegetable.
Thoughts: The recipes, in general, use more fat than I do these days to cook vegetables. But, that’s not necessarily a drawback to the book. In my opinion, one of the best uses for fat in our diets is for eating more vegetables. I’m always frustrated by diet books that indicate that the only way to eat vegetables is steamed (you will note that steamed is not one of the techniques covered in this book). Vegetables can be delicious! If you don’t find steamed vegetables delicious, it’s time to try some other methods. For people just starting to get more vegetables in their diets, the amount of fat in this book is probably fine. For the rest of us, it’s easy enough to just use a lighter hand. When I used the foundation recipe for quick-braising broccoli, I skipped the last step that suggested using butter to make a pan sauce.
We gobbled that broccoli so fast that I didn’t have time to take a photo of it. So, I’ll post the other recipe we tried.
Roasted Green Beans and Cremini Mushrooms with Rosemary-Garlic Oil
from Fast, Fresh & Green by Susie Middleton
10 oz/285 g cremeni (baby bella) mushrooms, quartered if large, halved if small
1/4 c/60 ml plus 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil (I used much less by simply oiling the roasting pan instead of tossing the vegetables in oil and by making the sauce with about half the oil called for)
1 tsp kosher salt (I went a bit lighter on the salt, too)
12 oz/340 g green beans, trimmed
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees (245 C). Line a large heavy-duty rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper (I skipped this).
2. In a mixing bowl, toss the mushrooms thoroughly with 2 Tbsp of the oil and 1/2 tsp of the salt. Spread out the mushrooms in one layer, cut side down, on one end of the sheet pan. (They can be close together.) Toss the green beans with 1 Tbsp of the olive oil and the remaining 1/2 tsp of salt. Spread the green beans out in one layer on the rest of the pan. Roast until the green beans are shrunken and very wrinkled (they will be browned in spots) and the mushrooms are tender, shrunken, and beginning to brown, about 25 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, put the remaining 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp of olive oil in a small nonstick skillet along with the garlic, rosemary, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Once the oil starts bubbling, cook for 1 minute to infuse the oil with the flavors (the rosemary will lose its color) and to soften the garlic. Remove the skillet from the heat and let sit while the vegetables finish cooking.
4. Transfer the cooked vegetables to a mixing bowl. Scrape the seasoned oil out of the skillet and over the vegetables; toss thoroughly. Transfer to a serving platter or dinner plates.
Serves 3 to 4
We liked this a lot. It went well with a tuna pasta dish we like that also has rosemary and red pepper flakes in the seasoning.
Appeal: This book will appeal to people who already likes their veggies, offering them some new techniques to try. It’s also a great starting point for the veggie-skeptics looking for new ways of getting more vegetables into their daily lives.
This is also my entry for the Weekend Cooking meme hosted by Beth Fish Reads.