Cruciferous – Veggie treats

The secret to good health lies beneath those leaves of cabbage and florets of cauliflower, says Parvathy Menon

Including vegetable in your daily fare is a healthy lifestyle choice. But some vegetables are healthier and more nutrition-packed than others. For instance the cruciferous family of vegetables — broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, radish, and turnip — is described by contemporary nutritionists as miracle foods which contribute greatly to boosting bodily immunity.

The high phytochemical sulforaphane content in these vegetables endows them with anticarcinogenic properties, not dissimilar to turmeric (curcumin). Sulforaphane prevents several types of cancer, including stomach, bladder, breast, prostate, lung, colon and skin, and also helps in pain management. Cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli, are a superior source of antioxidants and are also being researched for alleviating depression.

An estimated 300 studies have been published on PubMed (database of biomedical literature maintained by the United States National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health), highlighting the benefits of cruciferous vegetables. That’s good enough reason to include them in your family’s daily menus.

Parmesan roasted cauliflower

Ingredients

» 1 small to medium cauliflower, cut into florets
» 2 tsp crushed garlic
» 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
» 1 tsp kosher salt
» 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
» 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation guide
» Heat oven to 425° F (220° C)
» Line a large baking dish with foil.
» Toss the cauliflower florets with the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, and the Parmesan cheese in a large bowl.
» Spread the mixture evenly in the baking dish. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, turning the cauliflower every 10 minutes, until tender and lightly browned.

Broccoli bake

Ingredients
» 2 cups water
» 1/2 tsp salt
» 450 gm broccoli
» ½ kg cauliflower
» 1/2 cup milk
» 4 to 5 tbsp butter
» 4 tbsp flour
» Salt and pepper to taste
» A dash of nutmeg
» 2 tbsp dry breadcrumbs
» 1 to 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
» 1 tsp chilly flakes

Preparation guide
» Preheat oven to 450 F.
» Boil water with 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan.
» Cut the broccoli and cauliflower into equal bite-sized pieces. Trim or peel the stems.
» Add the broccoli and cauliflower to the water and cook until tender, for about 4 to 6 minutes.
» Drain the vegetables, reserving the cooking liquid. Place the drained vegetables in a shallow casserole.
» Transfer the vegetable broth to the bowl. Add milk and stir.
» In the saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.
» Blend in the flour, stirring until smooth and bubbly. This makes a roux for the sauce.
» Stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Slowly stir in milk and vegetable broth mixture.
» Cook, stirring constantly, until thick. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
» Pour the sauce over the broccoli and cauliflower mixture and stir gently.
» Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the saucepan.
» Combine the melted butter with the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and chilly flakes.
» Toss to blend ingredients, and sprinkle over the vegetables.
» Bake for 20 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are lightly browned.
» Remove casserole from the oven and serve hot.

Cabbage rolls

Ingredients

» 1 medium green cabbage
» 1 cup medium-grain rice
» 1/2 cup shredded onion
» 1 chopped or diced tomato
» Salt and pepper to taste
» 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, or more to taste
» 1/2 tsp ground garam masala
» 1/4 cup olive oil
» 300 ml tomato puree, divided in half
» 1 medium sliced yellow onion
» 1-2 sliced tomatoes
» 1 tsp ground cumin

Preparation guide

» Remove the first few leaves of cabbage, and wash in cold water.
» Boil the cabbage in a saucepan. Remove the top layer of cabbage leaves after they are blanched. Continue the process, peeling off each layer of leaves as they soften.
» Set aside to cool and halve each cabbage leaf.
» In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice, shredded onions, chopped tomato, herbs, spices, oil, 1/2 tomato puree and 1/4 cup water. Blend together with a spoon.
» Lightly oil a cooking pot and saute the sliced onions and tomatoes.
» Take a cabbage leaf and place on a flat surface, coarse side up. Add 1 tsp (more if leaves are larger) of the rice stuffing mixture at the end of the leaf closest to you. Roll up the leaf to completely enclose the stuffing. Repeat with the remaining cabbage.
» Layer the pot with the cabbage rolls, seam-side down. Top with the remaining 1/2 tomato puree, and about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of water (water should barely reach the top layer of cabbage rolls). Add the ground cumin.
» Place a small plate on the cabbage rolls. Cook on high heat for 5-7 minutes until the liquid reduces to half. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes, then remove the plate. Now cook for another 15 minutes or until the water has completely evaporated.

Tips

» Roll the cabbage leaves tightly all the way to fully enclose the rice.

» Place a small plate directly over the cabbage rolls in the cooking pot. This keeps the rolls from loosening up or getting undone as the rice expands while cooking.

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