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March 2021 Food Challenge -Favourite Vegetables

:carrot: :eggplant: :potato: :corn: :mushroom: :leafy_green: :broccoli: :onion: :hot_pepper: :onion:

We all know that fresh vegetables are important for good nutrition and a balanced diet. Vegetables are versatile and can be enjoyed raw, cooked, pickled or fermented. They also come in a wide range of different colours, sizes, flavours and textures.

For the March Food Challenge, post what your favourite vegetable is and how you prefer to eat it. Let us also know why is it also your favourite vegetable.

If you have more than one favourite vegetable, this is okay as well.

The most interesting posts will be awarded a badge for this months challenge.

@Gaby, @vax2000 and @phb and Choice would like to thank those who participated in the February Barbeque Food Challenge. There were many great contributions and hopefully will expand how others use their barbeques to cook. A particular thanks also to @Wend ,@RcW , @Deb, @tim-bailey , @pjturner2008 , @mark3 .@Grahroll and @Fred123 who made excellent contributions and have been awarded a badge.

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Patty Pan squash. Cut them vertically, coat lightly with flour. Fry in oil until just tender/charred. Salt, pepper, and just before removing from the pan a ‘shot’ of (Praise) french dressing and a squirt of lemon juice. Optional, a spare sprinkle of fresh parsley.

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Broccoli.

We eat some at dinner most nights, cut into florets and placed in a ceramic dessert dish with other greens and a small amount of water, covered with cling wrap, and steamed in the microwave for 5 minutes and with butter then added.

In winter, we also occassionally make broccoli soup using broccoli florets and chicken stock, pureed, and with cream and freshly ground salt and pepper added.

Very occassionally, we also make broccoli au gratin.

A late uncle was an engineer on merchant shipping and he would bring broccoli and other “exotic” vegetables to us in Cairns in the 1960’s when most locals had never even heard of it.

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I use a sneaky way to include vegies in a summer or side salad. It’s a twist on Tabouli.
Use the same recipe for traditional Tabouli but replace the bulgur with blitzed raw cauliflower. Texture and taste is much the same and it also makes it edible for those who are gluten free or wheat free and kids seem to like it better.
As well as the cauliflower, a myriad of vegies are used including parsley, mint, spinach, tomatoes, cucumber and onion.
A healthy concoction for all and has the added benefit of no cooking required.

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Home-grown :-

Tomatoes*, egg and plum types, Lettuces lots of varieties. Perpetual Spinach, Basil, Parsley Italian / other flat varieties. Zucchinis, Chillies and Pumpkin. Asparagus which self-renews - zero maintenance.
Garlic chives, Oregano, Spring onions, Garlic chives for salads.

If you live in a house with space out the back and aren’t doing this you are missing out. Even IF you work during the week and it’s mostly gentle exercise.

Serious mulching with CHEAP sugar-cane-mulch reduces watering. Plus? Add a worm farm or two and hump 9L watering cans of worm-castings tea and you’re away!!!

If your area is prone to fruit-eating bugs and moulds, give fruit trees up!!!

Potatoes? Get them from a shop. Growing them at home requires a lot of garden-bed space. And then a LOT of digging.

*? Small tomato varieties CROP more heavily than large varieties like Gross Lisse. They also seem to resist common pests. So, you get more fibre, which helps with gut health. So far, I haven’t had to spray this year.

IF you want early tomatoes, use a large tall green house facing Nth, worm castings tea. and start early - late Autumn/Spring and plant them out as soon as they’re brushing the top.

Maximise morning sun, but shift to the next row of beds to the West the following year. And let the Eastern row of beds have a ‘rest’ but use nutrient transfer plants and Worm farm castings. A Bunnings worm-fram does not PONG, is easy to feed, and makes the best organic fertiliser there is. You can scoop the very dark brown ‘mud’ out and into a bucket and dig it in to beds before you mulch / Under MULC pilled back!!!
OR pour 9 litres of tap-water in and leave for a bit then drain of the lovely black liquid and water it down by 7 or 8:strong text1 into your plastic green 9 litre watering cans sans-roses*, and pour it onto the mulched beds.

  • the worms output does include tiny hard bist of debris which will block watering-can your roses - in my experience. An electric drill and a fine bit has just occurred to me - ‘blush’!

Yes, it’s an ‘interdependent system’ - the mulch lets you water pale yellow-brown worm-tea without getting ruts in the soil or disturbing top-soil roots.

You still have to be lucky with the weather - with tomatoes - if your in Canberra or South of that and high-up.

Parsley??? Curley-leaf parsley is a great haven for creepy green bugs you won’t see until you crop!

I’m a lazy / energy efficient, gardener though the bi-weekly lift of >72 kgs of worm castings tea in 9L cans is exercise I suppose! :wink:

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I’m thinking paw paw (aka papaya) because it is versatile and makes great Asian inspired salads green. It handles spice and strong flavours including fish sauce well. If you are slow to pick (ripens) it’s really great with ice cream in a hot day.

Oops. It’s really a fruit!

We love roasted pumpkin, large chunks with the skin on, especially Qld Blue drizzled with olive oil, seasoned and a good sprinkle of fresh rosemary/herbs. Roasted until golden brown and almost melting on the inside.

Oops. It’s also really a fruit!

We also love zucchini. Split lengthwise, slowly fried or grilled on the BBQ until the skin side is dark and softened, and the flesh side has melted to a creamy golden colour. Brush with any quality neutral high temperature oil while cooking, season and drizzle with your favourite oil or dressing to personal taste, or a dash of pepper and consume without.

Oops. It’s also really a fruit.

Um, lettuce and spinach and nettles and kale. :worried:
How about Lettuce, tomato and cucumber sandwiches? Well one out of three on that score.

Guess I’m more a fruit type of person. :+1:

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I like potatoes and sweet potatoes . Potatoes I like to roast them and put a dollop of mayo on them . Sweet potatoes I eat in moderation but like to roast them too . I basically like potatoes for the taste and the same goes for sweet potatoes . As I follow a FODMAP diet due to suffering from IBS I have to limit the amount of sweet potato I eat in a serving due to their high fibre content .

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Eggplant in Oz, in other places aubergine or maybe brinjal. A versatile vege that many people have no idea what to do with and that others get wrong all the time.

It’s a (usually) big fleshy fruit that is mainly water and cellulose. The water part seems to confuse people. Nearly every recipe tells you to slice and salt the fruit and leave it to stand in order to draw out the water. But why?

There are many other veges that have a high water content but we are not told to de-water them. My opinion is that this is a leftover from previous times that is no longer important. Make no mistake if you do this process all the salt does not drain away, the flesh will be left fairly salty. I think in days past eggplant cultivars were more bitter than they are today and the purpose of salting was to remove the bitterness. I have grown several cultivars in addition to the big purple-black kind usually found in the supermarket and never found the need to salt them.

The eggplant family the Solanums or nightshades (tomatoes, capsicums, chillies, potatoes) are often strongly flavoured. The flavour is an evolutionary development to repel attack by predators. There is still some bitterness in modern eggplants - it is in the seeds. Like passionfruit there are thousands of them and eating them is unavoidable. The solution is to close your eyes and forget they are there and you won’t notice. There is an exception to this, see later.

Another issue with eggplant is that they are oil magnets. The spongy texture seems to be designed to suck up vast amounts of cooking oil. This may be what you want, imam bayildi done the traditional way uses the eggplant as substrate for oil. We may not want to eat large amounts of oil but there are ways around the problem without compromising flavour. Some say the salting reduces the amount of oil they absorb - it doesn’t.

A third preparation question is peeling. Some think that you get extra brownie points for leaving the peel on. It is just edible but to me unattractive and may separate in cooking leaving black strips in your dish. I peel but YMMV.

Enough theory here are some yummy practical ways to eat eggplant.

Choosing fresh eggplant. Select fruit that are firm and shiny, avoid blemishes. If the skin is wrinkled or soft they are old. Very fresh fruit will ‘ring’, that is if flicked you will hear/feel the vibration go through it. The same freshness test applies to the cousin capsicum. If you want to experience this grow your own. Eggplants love heat, dry air, rich soil, full sun and being watered, netted and staked. This year with La Nina summer my eggplants are rubbish.

Fried

Peel and slice crossways about 7-8 mm thick. Flour, egg and breadcrumb the slices. The coating will not stick to peel. Season the flour with salt and pepper, and spices like garam masala if you like. Shallow fry in your favourite oil, I use olive. The coating limits the amount of oil absorbed. When brown on both sides drain on kitchen paper, and serve while hot with lemon quarters. The soft inside and crunchy outside is very appealing and the lemon cuts the oil, people who don’t like eggplant including children may change their minds over this.

Dip

Baba ganouche is a traditional eggplant dip from the eastern Mediterranean. Slice the fruit in halves longways (unless small) and bake on a slide in a hot oven for some 40-50 minutes, turn halfway. They are done when the skin starts to crisp and collapse, the insides should be soft and translucent. Cool and scrape the pulp out of the skin with a spoon. Mash the pulp with a fork (if you use a food processor it will break the seeds and make it bitter). Add about one sixth the volume of tahini (or to taste) and season with crushed garlic, lemon juice and salt. If you want precise quantities there are 1000 recipes. The smokiness is very attractive with fresh bread and nibbles.

Microwave

This is dead easy and very quick. Peel and cut into largish chunks. Nuke until soft. Serve with a little oyster sauce. Oyster sauce is full of salt and umami and complements the bland vege.

Baked

There are a million recipes, most involve tomatoes, oil or butter, cheese, breadcrumbs etc. A basic and foolproof way to prepare eggplant that can be as simple or fancy as you like.

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Love roasted beetroot. Just top and tail the beetroot, place in oven until a skewer can go through with little resistence. Wait until cool, then peel. Great with salads, and red meat.

Also serve with roasted pumpkin, rocket/spinach and fetta, dressed in olive oil and lemon juice and toasted pine nuts over the top.

You can also blitz the roasted beetroot with greek yougurt, add a little salt and chilli and you have a perfect beetroot dip.

I also grate a raw beetroot, place in saucepan with cumin, salt, and a little sugar, cook down, and you have a lovely beetroot relish that is great with beef or lamb.

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I will second that. We are fortunate that beetroot grows very well in our vege garden in Tassie and when cooked very fresh, they are so much more flavoursome and sweet.

If you like roasted beetroot, you will also like mangelwurzel - seed is available from good Australian online seed retailers. Mangelwurzel is a member of the beet family and is very easy to grow if you have the right soil and climatic conditions. It is also sweeter than beetroot, has a creamy coloured flesh and has a milder beet flavour. It can be used in the same way that beetroot is used and is perfect when roasted.

Apart from beetroot, my other main favourite is Chinese/Garlic chives. We also grow these in the garden and cut into 5cm lengths, stirfry with a little sesame oil, garlic, eggs and Chinese cooking wine, Perfect accompaniment to any home cooked Chinese meal (such as Chinese beef brisket - using potatoes rather than radish, rice cooker Shanghai Pork, dumplings etc)…

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Have you tried Mayan Gold, sometimes available at Coles? They are smaller than the fabled American russets but have thick skins. Coat with duck fat, salt them, and bake for about an hour at 200C. Cut open, add butter, sour cream, green onions or chives, and shredded cheddar, or some chili con carne.

The other fav are kipflers. I used to bake them in a traditional manner but now cut them in half lengthwise, score the flesh with fork tongs, rub duck fat on the skin and salt it, and coat the flesh side with butter. Put them face (butter side) down on a pan and bake at 200C for about 50 minutes. The flesh side will have a nice crisp buttery surface. Eat with sour cream as a replacement for hot chips.

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I’m a kipfler fan Phil . I’ll definitely keep a look out for the Mayan Golds at Coles . At the moment I’m getting through a bag of Dutch Creaming .

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We are Mayflower or Nicola fans, both are allrounders. Nicola is great for making gnocchi and mayflower makes the perfect mash.

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Since childhood: potatoes, because that was the only food my mum couldn’t cook to death ( although she did burn the French fries sometimes).
And salads because the lettuce and other raw veggies in it were nice and crisp.

When I started cooking for myself I discovered that I also liked beans and peas, and capsicum and zucchini etc and also Brussels Sprouts, as I would cook the veggies for the minimum amount of time only.

Love of salads has stayed with me, and French fries are still my fav.

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Anything I have grown myself but best of all is cauliflower. It is so versatile. You can just steam it, bake it, service with cheese or hollandaise sauce and even add it to soups, casseroles and stir frys.

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Brought to Spain and Italy by the Arabs in the XV century, the eggplant was not very popular for some time: in Italy they still call it the “Unhealthy Fruit” as it is unpalatable and a little toxic if eaten raw:
it contains Solanine (same as
in potatoes gone green) which, even when cooked, gives it that bitter after taste.
Seeds and cultivation techniques have changed and eggplants are not as bitter as they once were, and don’t really need salting, especially the thin ones.

Love your recipes for preparing and cooking eggplants @syncretic :slightly_smiling_face:

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Brussel sprouts. Love them or hate them.
Serve me up some plain boiled sprouts and it is hate.
But maybe a quick cook, cut in half, and then sautee in butter and some bacon bits and it is love.
Anyone else got some sprout ideas?

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1/2’d or 1/4’d then oiled up and roasted with Balsamic Vinegar and a sprinkle of salt, cook until tender. Kale can be done similarly until crunchy and served like salt and vinegar chips.

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What? Brussel sprouts?

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