"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Steve's Evil Kitchen: Fire and Brimstone Salad

It's the start of a new year and everyone's vowing to eat healthier. I think that if one adds one healthy food each week to one's diet, eventually the bulk drives out the worse choices. Therefore, I'm thinking of switching my food posts from outrageously decadent desserts to more basic healthy fare.

The obvious first choice is the dreaded cruciferous vegetables. Adding two servings per week of these is supposed to have an almost endless supply of benefits. Unfortunately, they are also frequently despised vegetables (they are NOT my favorites!) The common ones are good sources of calcium as well as a group of compounds called isothiocyanates, which may reduce the risk of some cancers (and which make them smell sulfury when cooked). The usual list: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and chinese cabbages (Napa, bok choy, etc.); also in the group are a number of leafy greens: collards, kale, watercress, mustard, turnip, broccoli raab and rapini; then there are the root vegetables: kohlrabi, turnip, radish and daikon, rutabaga and horseradish.

Cooking destroys the isothiocyanates, which severely decreases the number of things one can do with them if one's eating them for health reasons. To me, the only way to make the inherent bitterness of these vegetables palatable is to alter the flavor profile by making them peppery - which turns out to be easy, as many of them are naturally peppery. As they are spicy (fire) and sulfury (brimstone), the outcome was a mixture of Italian and Asian ideas:

Fire and Brimstone Salad

Destem and parboil Tuscan (dinosaur) kale and broccoli florets, then toss with mustard greens (preferably red mustard), mizuna or tah-tsoi ("Japanese Mustard", available in some markets), Napa cabbage and watercress (or arugula, whichever's in season). Season with a vinaigrette (1 part vinegar to 3 parts extra virgin olive oil) mixed with 1/2 tsp. of prepared wasabi and a sprinkle of coarse salt.

The verdict? It was hot enough that it took me two hours to eat maybe 40 calories. That sounds like a diet to me!


wildknits said...

The Wildknits home includes fans of the cruciferous family! Roasted, sauted, braised..... mmmmm....

My eldest used to dip broccoli "trees" in yogurt as a toddler and suck the yogurt off (some broccoli made it into her as well).

So - what does preparing cabbage as kimchee do to the isothiocyanates?

Any meal that is too hot to eat doesn't sound like it is worth the health benefits.

Can't wait to read the next installment!

SteveQ said...

I realized my omission after publication. The fermentation of kimchee and sauerkraut actually seem to increase the bioavailability.

Jean said...

I am telling you, "Steve's Evil Kitchen" needs to be on the Food Network. I would watch! :)

Diana said...

We've been eating so many of these vegetables this week. They are 1) readily available here this time of year and 2) in every single recipe of this stupid cleanse program I thought would be such an awesome idea. I am so sick of kale and red cabbage right now.

I made a tahini sauce and have served that drizzled on the vegetables a few times. The tahini toned down the bitter notes and made a huge plate of broccoli and greens surprisingly tasty and filling. Next time maybe I'll go the super spicy route. Thanks for the tip.

wildknits said...

Good to hear since kimchee is a staple here (one gallon jar in the fridge, the other in the basement in cold storage until it is needed). Mmmmmmm.....