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As a kid, I remember the constant battle with my parents on eating my vegetables. I think we all went through those phases of our lives where we just couldn’t (wouldn’t) eat something that was placed in front of us at the dinner table. For most of us, veggies were our “El Guapo” (blatant Three Amigos reference). We stuck to our guns against parents, doctors, and teachers all harping on how important eating our vegetables was, and how we would never grow up big and strong without them.
But we did grow up. Maybe a little worse for the wear because we didn't eat our vegetables, but we made it to adulthood all the same… only to find out they were all so right about vegetables. If only we realized what beautiful conduit for flavors they were. If only we understood how texturally satisfying they can be. So many dinners ruined by the constant complaining.
Luckily, we eventually begin to appreciate the subtle nuances of vegetables. The industry is trending towards more vegetable-centric dishes. In the three largest markets of our country (New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago) we are seeing high end restaurants place veg-centric dishes on their menus. These dishes are not necessarily vegetarian or vegan but the star ingredient is a properly prepared vegetable being allowed to shine in its natural greatness. Places like Gjelina in Venice, CA (Chef Travis Lett) and Chalk Point Kitchen in New York, NY (Chef Joe Isidori) are dedicating whole portions of their menus to these types of dishes.
The trend towards farm to table food has helped the vegetable boon as well. With more and more chefs using fresh and in season vegetables, we are getting vegetables at the peak of their flavor, allowing chefs the perfect back drop to accentuate the natural sweet and/or savory aspects of many vegetables. In essence, we are now getting our vegetables at their best so we can show them at their best.
On July 4th a couple of years ago, we had an impromptu neighborhood picnic. I was already smoking a pork shoulder that day for dinner, so obviously I brought that along. As an add-in to my family’s contribution to the picnic, I made some cabbage steaks by simply rubbing some thick slices of cabbage with garlic and sprinkling them with some salt, pepper, and olive oil. Then I roasted them for 35 minutes in the oven. The cabbage steaks were the hit of the meal.
The next year I made my Cauliflower White Bean Meuniere (recipe below-picture above). Again, we amazed with a vegetable. Who’d have thought the bane of my childhood eating existence would become the dishes that I’m now remembered for. It certainly is amazing how we’ve grown.
Enjoy the recipe and start making our vegetable friends your star.
Chef Paul, a Certified Research Chef, is a 2002 graduate of Yorktowne Business Institute School of Culinary Arts in York, Pennsylvania. There he was class valedictorian and received the Chef Michael Hostetter Memorial Award for Culinary Excellence. He is a member of the Research Chefs Association and the Refrigerated Foods Association and has over 15 years of experience.
Working in restaurants since the age of 16, Paul has spent most of his life working with food; a love he developed in family style restaurants, honed in school, and practiced in fine dining establishments. Never one to be defining himself with a particular cuisine, Paul explores the world's palate with excitement. "The world is full of people who have made incredible foods with what is in their backyard and we now have access to all those wonderful flavors and combinations," he says. That love and excitement for flavor he now brings to Furmano Foods.