February 18th, 2011 - By Lari Robling
Dorie Greenspan returns with some tips for getting those 5 to 9 servings of vegetables a day. Plus, what do you think Julia Child missed in the States that was widely available in France?
In our on-going quest to meet the new dietary guidelines of 5 to 9 fruit and vegetable servings, I went to Dorie Greenspan. Her book, Around My French Table, offers some great tips for cooking vegetables, “it’s so hard to season spinach after it’s been steamed because it’s kind of cooked down. So, I decided to season the spinach before I put in the steamer. So, I mixed it with a tiny little bit of olive oil, and salt pepper and lemon zest. Then, I cooked it, and all you had to do then is lift it up, let some of the liquid fall away and serve it.”
That’s an easy way to get a vegetable serving! Figure two cups of raw spinach will cook down to just the right amount. But what about root vegetables, especially this time of year. Dorie Greenspan also shares the two questions Julia Child would always ask her when Dorie returned from Paris, “she’d say is the food still wonderful? To which I could always answer yes. And do they still sell fully cooked beets in the market? She loved that and they do. The French use beets far more than we do and Julia thought it was because you could get them fully cooked. They would be in cardboard boxes and the vegetable vendor would just take a big pronged fork and just reach in there and put the beet in a bag for you. I thought that was so funny that that would be her question every time I would come back.”
Since we don’t have precooked beets at our markets, what to do? Dorie says, “I’ll wrap them up in aluminum foil and just pop them in the oven that way, and sometimes I’ll just take a big baking platter, put the beets in, put some water in the bottom and steam them that way. They really need no attention.” If you are in a hurry, you can get them done quickly in a microwave. Just put the beets in a covered microwaveable bowl with a little water. Depending on the size, they can take anywhere from 4 to 8 minutes. Cook them until a fork easily pierces their skin. Voila!
No matter how you use them, a half cup of cooked beet root is a serving. But if you are really in a rush, Dorie also says, “they are also delicious raw. If you just shred them with a food processor and make a salad with them they are great, and they are a good garnish on soups.”
Ah, so the French do have their way with beets, and what is our vegetable icon?