Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My New Best Friends, Cauliflower and Jerusalem Artichokes

I'm going to break from my coverage of the chicks since... they're kind of doing the same thing they did last night. Actually, right now they are collapsed in a heap of sleepy chicks, letting out involuntary cheeps every now and then. They are like kittens, just crashing every few minutes to catch up on their sleep.

But back to food. This blog is supposed to be about picky eating, and about raising kids to have a great relationship with food. So I need to document my two recent triumphs over my own pickiness. I love most vegetables but there are a few I'm not crazy about.

1. Cauliflower, for instance, I've had absolutely no use for my entire life. It's like a weird white tasteless thing that shows up on crudite platters, right? Who cares about it? Who would go out of their way to actually prepare it?

But then I did an interview with Susan Rubin from Better School Food, and she mentioned how she got her 11-year-old daughter to try cauliflower 3 or 4 times, and finally her daughter started liking it. Susan mentioned that she cooks it the crunchy way, in the oven. I was like, "What crunchy way?"

This is her recipe:
Cut the cauliflower into small florets, toss with olive oil and salt, and roast in a 400-degree oven until practically burned. So it's brown and crunchy on the outside and sort of creamy on the inside.

I decided to give it a try --and now I'm obsessed with cauliflower. Oh my god, it's so good! Now my daughter eats it, too -- this is her shoving it into her mouth as I was trying to snap a picture:

-- She also runs and grabs it in the grocery store and puts in the cart herself.

2. And then there's Jerusalem Artichokes, which are basically a weird vegetable that my mother grew when I was growing up and I forever associated with her -- it's always been one of these weird things my Mom likes: stale marshmallow Peeps, canned asparagus, Mallomars, Jerusalem artichokes... They look like sunflowers (the name derives from the Italian word for sunflower -- girasole, which must have sounded like Jerusalem to somebody), and are very easy to grow. My mother grew them on her compost heap -- a giant bushel of sunflowers, which she dug up every fall.

Anyway in February we brought our friend Liz to NH with us, and one night she roasted up a bunch of Jerusalem artichokes. I was all, great, you and my Mom can eat them together and bond. But then I happened to try one... and now I'm addicted to them. They are incredibly crunchy and nutty and wonderful. Like a cross between nuts and parsnips. This post is happening because I started thinking about them and desperately wishing I had some to eat roasted and cold out of the fridge. The recipe's pretty complicated: I slice them, toss them in olive oil and salt, and roast them with the cauliflower.

Let's hear it for discovering new food loves!


zeke said...

Two thoughts:

1) Not sure that there is anything that is not good tossed with salt and olive oil and roasted. No, really. I would probably eat old shoes and back copies of National Geographic prepared this way.

2) What is with the stale peeps? Your mom is not the only one who likes them. I don't particularly like them fresh, I have to be honest, but stale they seems to be a cult hit. Strange.

be well.

Jamie said...

Daniel and Marisa go crazy for cauliflower cooked that way. Weird, we all discovered it at the same time. True, most anything roasted is good. Actually, stale peeps might be one of the few foods that would not work for...

Anonymous said...

then toss it in some sherry vinegar, fresh olive oil, capers, parsley. makes it about a thousand times better!


Larissa Phillips said...

Zeke, I don't know what it is about stale peeps. It gives them a little chew, right? My mother used to open them and leave them out for a few days.

Funny, Jamie is the one who first suggested that even cardboard would taste good with olive oil, salt and lemon.

Yes, capers! I think that is next in my cauliflower explorations. Thanks for commenting!