Sunday, February 23, 2014

"Hearty Vegetables"

Years ago, when I was trying to learn a bit of Dutch, I signed off a short note to a relative in the Netherlands with the misspelled phrase, “Hartlijke groenten” instead of “groeten.” I’m sure he was quite amused by my wishing him “hearty vegetables” rather than “cordial greetings.”

Orthographic bloopers notwithstanding, I have found quite a few recipes for hearty vegetable dishes in Grandma VandenBergh’s old Dutchcookbook. This week I’d like to share a few that readers may recall from earlier posts.

Being a country in the northern hemisphere between 50 and 54 degrees north latitude, the climate of the Netherlands is conducive to growing root vegetables and tubers. The carrots and potatoes that constitute the traditional Dutch dish of hutspot or stampot are certainly hearty vegetables whether combined in a ragout or prepared and served on their own.

In EenvoudigeBerekende Recepten, author Martine Wittop Konig divides the chapter on vegetables into six categories. She notes that boiling is the most common way to cook vegetables, but in that case you should take care not to cook them longer than necessary (and don’t use too much water!), so that you can use the leftover water in a sauce for the vegetables. If you simmer the vegetables slowly, you can also use the leftover broth the next day as a base for making vegetable soup.

Wittoop Konig also suggests steaming vegetables in what she calls a “Vingerhoets’ stoompan,” literally a thimble steam pan. This method will also help preserve the vitamins and nutrients in the vegetables. Steaming is my preferred method; I use my “thimble steam pan” at least once a week.

Here then are some examples of each type of vegetable covered in the chapter on vegetables:

Legumes (peulvruchten)

This category includes brown beans, white beans, and split peas. I have used both brown and white beans to make soups from the Dutch cookbook. 

White Bean and Leek soup

Stalk and root vegetables (stengel- en worteldeelen)

These include carrots, beets, and asparagus. I've tried several recipes for carrots and Dutch-style white asparagus.

Worteltjes - Baby Carrots

Asperges - White asparagus

Cabbages (koolsoorten)

Who doesn't know American-style coleslaw, which is really Dutch kool sla, meaning "cabbage salad"? I've tried recipes for cauliflower (bloemkool) and Brussels sprouts (spruitjes).

Bloemkool au gratin - Cauliflower au gratin

Spruitjes - Brussels sprouts

Leafy green vegetables (bladgroenten)

These include spinach (spinazie)and endive (andijvie).

Potatoes and endive for stampot met andijvie

Young legumes (jonge peulvruchten)

Green beans fall into this category (snijboonen).

Snijbonen met aardappelen en rookworst

Aromatic vegetables” (aromatische groenten)

This is the shortest section in the chapter on vegetables. Here we find a recipe for cucumber salad (komkommersla).  As you might imagine, this is a tasty and nourishing recipe for those of us trying to watch our weight.

Cucumber and egg salad

With such a variety of hearty and nourishing recipes, we have no excuse not to eat our veggies.

Eet smakelijk! Enjoy your meal, whatever vegetable you choose to prepare today.

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