Most people I know are intimidated by dark leafy greens. They buy them because they should, yet the greens always seem to end up either in a vase as a bouquet or permanently exiled to the hinterlands of the fridge. Here’s a better solution. Sauté your greens in olive oil and garlic. Toss in some cherry tomatoes for color, or caramelized onions and a few raisins for sweetness. My friend said her 4-year old ate these greens and said they tasted like candy. Now that’s a kid with a bright future!
Cauliflower is a wonderful vegetable that’s full of excellent cancer-fighting enzymes, yet it’s sorely in need of a PR campaign. That’s because most people steam cauliflower, which makes the kitchen smell like a stink bomb detonated. Either that or, like my dad, they eat cauliflower raw and tasteless as crudités (in his case, dipped in Russian dressing). The secret is to roast cauliflower. Not only does this avoid the sulfur smell, it also produces an unbelievably sweet flavor.
Sometimes creating recipes is like dating. You have to know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. I recently broke up with a chopped broccoli dish because we had no chemistry. It just wasn’t happening. I might have been depressed if not for another broccoli suitor that swept me off my feet. This guy—well, as mom likes to say, he cleans up nice. Maybe it’s the company he keeps as well; surrounding himself with fresh basil, red bell peppers, a little lemon . . . they’re a sprightly crowd, fun to hang with, and healthy, too, full of anti-inflammatories and other anticancer properties.
You can learn a lot sitting on the tailgate of a pickup truck. That’s where my buddy Chris, from Zuckerman’s Farm, used to sit me down and teach me about all things asparagus. Chris worked hard—awfully hard—as a farmer. He was true salt of the earth, and as generous as they come. Normally, there’s an invisible line: farmers behind their wares and buyers on the other side, but Chris always insisted I “step into his parlor.” Both of us were always so excited when the first asparagus of the season showed up. He’d put aside a bunch for me, and then we’d both hop up on that tailgate and talk—about recipes, how amazingly nutritious asparagus is, and, a lot of the time, about life and family. Chris passed away not long ago, and I felt the best way I could honor him was to create a recipe featuring his favorite veggie. I think he would have enjoyed this, and I hope you will too.