They’re jam-packed with nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid, and potassium.
And as if that were not enough, they have generous amounts of fiber (and we all know how important that is).
There’s only one problem though: Lots of people hate vegetables. When they see a pile of overcooked green beans on a plate, it brings back horrible memories of dreary lunches served up in the school cafeteria by hefty ladies wearing hair-nets.
Sometimes, the vegetable du jour was peas from giant cans, stored in a government warehouse since the early days of the Reagan administration.
Not that it was any better at home. My mother—God bless her—was an excellent cook, and I’ve written rapturous odes to her pies, her home-made bread, and her coffee cake made with tart-cherries picked from trees in our back yard.
I think it’s fair to say, though, that cooking vegetables was not her strong suit. And my mother was not alone. It’s also fair to say that despite my own considerable culinary skills, cooking vegetables has not been my strong suit either.
But over the past 5 years or so, I’ve had an epiphany, namely, that there are no (well, almost no) bad vegetables, there are only people who cook vegetables badly.
With decades of cooking experience behind me, I’ve finally learned how to select and cook vegetables so that those at the table don’t eat them out of some grim nutritional duty or simply to qualify for desert. I’ve learned at last that vegetables are not only good for us, they’re just plain good!
Much of my new-found fervor is due to the abundance of colorful and exotic vegetables at my local farmer’s market, open once a week from mid-May to mid-October.
Of all the wonderful veggies sold there by local farmers, these five have become great favorites:
Bok choy with its thick white stalks and rounded green leaves and a slightly peppery, crunchy taste
Kohlrabi—a round greenish bulb with stems and leaves which, according to one knowledgeable source, is best when it’s “no bigger than a baseball.”
Walla Walla onions—sweet onions grown in the Walla Walla Valley of Washington and Oregon. The best onions ever.
Lemon cucumbers—round cucumbers the size and shape of lemons
Jicama—a staple of Latin American food, not grown in Washington State (as far as I know) but available in supermarkets. It’s sweet and crunchy and terrific in salads like the Couscous and Black Bean salad which I brought to a neighborhood potluck on Labor Day.
All of these are delicious either raw in salads or cooked. I love to stir-fry veggies in a wok, using different colors and textures.
For the stir-fry in the photo, I used bok choy, kohlrabi (cut into matchstick shapes), yellow bell pepper, Walla Walla onion, a bit of left-over tomato, and carrots (the roundish slices which are purple outside and orange inside).
They look good, they taste good, and they’re good for you.