by Trish Watson
My mother-in-law is a dear and lovely person, but when I visit her home I am amazed at what she doesn’t know about storing vegetables, and she’s a vegetarian! I’m wondering if there are more folks like her out there and have decided to give a lesson on the storage and preparation of certain veggies. I’m going to begin with winter veggies since that’s the season at present. Then I’ll go into summer veggies. This will take several weeks since I am allowed a limited amount of space for the column. I hope this will assist you in caring for your food and maybe inspire you to try some new ones.
When I speak of green-friendly bags, I’m talking about the specialty bags that allow the vegetables to breathe. If you use ordinary plastic bags, your veggies will rot.
Beets: Cut off the tops two inches above the roots. You may save the beet greens if they look fresh and saute them with onion and garlic. Store the beets in green-friendly bags in the fridge. You can either boil or bake the beets. I like them best baked with thyme and butter. After they are cooked, it’s easy to slip off the skins.
Bok choy: Refrigerate in green-friendly bags until ready to use. Cut off the bottom of the bunch and wash well. Remove leafy tops and chop them. Cut stems into slices. Stir fry or saute both parts until crisp-tender. Bok choy is delicious when added to won ton soup.
Broccoli: Refrigerate in green-friendly bags. Soak in cold water for 10 minutes to remove insects, dirt and pesticide residue. Remove the tough outer leaves and cut tough ends off stalks. Slice of split stalks for quicker cooking. If desired, separate florets from stalks. Cook until just tender by steaming or stirfrying. Some like it roasted, but I find that roasting burns the ends of the florets. You can also use the stalks to shred for coleslaw.
Broccoli rabe: Refrigerate in green-friendly bags. To use, rinse and trim off tough stem ends. If necessary, remove strings from large stalks as with celery. Cut stalks into small sections, shred or otherwise cut leaves. Leave florets whole. Steam or stir fry in a small amount of salted water.
Brussels sprouts: Refrigerate in green-friendly bags. Trim the bottoms and peel away discolored outer leaves. Halve large sprouts. If the sprouts are medium size, make and X cut on the bottom of the sprout. This assists in cooking more quickly and thoroughly. Steam or boil in salted water until you can pierce the sprout easily with a small knife.
Cabbages: Remove and discard any ragged or discolored leaves. Refrigerate in green-friendly plastic bags. Halve or quarter and cut out inner core. Shred, slice or cut into wedges. Use raw for coleslaw, steam or saute. I like mine steamed with butter and dill.