Saturday, January 28, 2012

Finding New Ways to Eat Winter Veggies

As I said earlier this week, I felt a moment of inspiration last weekend while menu planning.  Where it came from, I have no idea, but something just clicked and Niek and I actually felt excited about our eating plans for the week.  Winter veggies--which ones to choose and what on earth do you do to them to make them delicious?  Summer vegetables are easy: chop them up, throw them in a bowl with some dressing, and call it a salad.  Voila, dinner.  Last time I checked, eating raw cabbage at every meal isn't that appetizing (although I have a fabulous read cabbage slaw taco recipe that is truly amazing).

But, we did it.  We found a recipe that incorporates the best of Dutch winter vegetables, and no, it's not stampot.  We settled on the un-Dutch recipe for minestrone, and oh wow was it good.  As always, came in handy with a great rendition of winter minestrone.  There were the usual kinds of substitutions since Dutch grocery stores aren't exactly brimming with produce choices, and I'm just too stinkin' tired to lug myself and the baby halfway across Amsterdam in search of every, last ingredient.  Those days have been put on hold until...I don't know when I'll feel like doing that ever again...maybe when the little munchkin no longer needs to nurse and I could in theory blissfully leave her with Niek for days without worrying about her nutrition.  In the meantime, cubed bacon went in for the pancetta, the escarole was nixed altogether, and kale stood in as second-best for chard.  Why do the Dutch hate chard?  I would assume they do, because it is very difficult to track down.  Niek doesn't even know the Dutch word for it (snijbiet, in case you're wondering). It was sad not to use it, but the kale proved to be an adequate substitute.

Although the Dutch supermarkets fail to have a large variety of produce, they do have a surprising number of cabbage varieties.  I counted five last time we were there.  There was no savoy cabbage this time, so I picked up this little number, a head of spitskool.
I love this picture, because it looks like the head of cabbage is leaning into the shot as if to say, "Hello, I'm a spitskool."
And there you have it.  It was probably one of the best winter soups I have ever made, and it was even better the second day.  I just felt so full of goodness (re: fiber), so now I can make it through the rest of the winter without constantly despairing over the lack of greens in my diet or daydreaming about a flight back to California.

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