Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Say hello to turnips

Next to okra, turnips are probably my second least favorite vegetable.  I once attended a Thanksgiving dinner where food was served family style and I reached for the bowl with the big pile of what I thought was mashed potatoes and scooped out several heaping ladles onto my plate (can't get enough of those mashed potatoes!).  When I took the first forkful loaded with melted butter and gravy (these were my pre-vegan years), I nearly choked from the unexpected bitterness.  What evil mind would concoct such cruel deception?  And for Thanksgiving no less!  No Thank You.

It took me awhile to get that dreadful taste out of my mouth.  Many years, in fact.  I now find myself surprised to be trying turnips again.  Perhaps my tastes have changed, somewhat, as I've developed an affinity for bitter foods such as broccoli rabe and dandelion greens.  And I've also learned how to mellow flavors by combining them with their opposites.  In the case of bitter turnips, I thought, why not try mixing them with sweet potatoes?  Not the orange yams, but the Japanese sweet potato with purple skin and white flesh that tastes almost marshmallowy when cooked.  So this was my experiment for this week's menu.

The first entree features pan-seared tempeh with a silky piccata sauce accompanied by steamed asparagus and mashed sweet potato, turnip, and yukon gold potato.  Turnips are high in Vitamins B and C, they have more fiber than potatoes, and are lower in calorie, so adding them to the mash is a nice way to reduce carbs and get some health benefits at the same time.  Plus, as I mentioned, the bitterness is mellowed when combined with the other root vegetables.  Success!

Since it's been a rainy week here in Well on Wheels land, I made two entrees that are perfect for curling up with.  I love curry, so the spices in the Spinach and Chickpea Coconut Curry were warming and soothing.

The last entree was Fire-Roasted Tomato Black Bean Chili with Adobo.  I'm really loving the new Muir Glen adobo fire-roasted tomatoes which I've been using in chilis and soups.  It adds a rich depth of flavor and really boosts the firey kick.  Again, another great rainy day meal.

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