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Healthy eating by Julie

Try new vegetables!

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Try new vegetables!

SPOTLIGHT ON FOUR QUEBEC VEGETABLES

Are you under the impression that you’re always eating the same thing? If so, don’t despair! An easy way of getting out of your recipe rut is to try different varieties of veggies when preparing meals. This month’s article on four lesser-known veggies Mother Nature has for us during this beautiful fall season should give you some great new ideas. Enjoy!

 

Celery root (celeriac)

Contrary to what some believe, celery root is not the root of the common celery, but rather a different variety of celery with an irregularly shaped bulbous root. The size of a celeriac is similar to a large turnip and it tastes something like celery with a hint of hazelnut. Despite its rather strange appearance (and don’t be put off by that), celery root is a tender and aromatic vegetable that can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Chock full of fibre, Vitamins C and K, as well as potassium, this tasty tuber packs a mean nutritional punch. Another interesting fact about this unusual veggie is that its seeds are used to make celery salt.

Chef’s tips

When choosing celery root, the first thing you want to do is make sure it’s firm. Also remember that the more regular the shape, the easier it will be to peel…never a small feat! Because celeriac tends to brown quickly, use it as soon as you cut it or drizzle with lemon juice or dressing to prevent oxidation.

  • Celery root is great in purees, potage-like soups (celery root and green apple, for example), casseroles (veal, celery root and sharp cheddar), couscous dishes and stews. This root vegetable is spectacular in slow-cooker recipes and it takes any traditional potato mash to new heights with just a pinch of nutmeg.
  • Celery remoulade is a typical dish served in French bistros. The raw tuber is peeled, grated and tossed with mayonnaise, olive oil, lemon juice and Dijon mustard. You can also season the mixture with capers and sweet gherkins, or with grated apple, dried cranberries and a pinch of cumin. Give your lunch a boost by adding this refreshing salad to your sandwich. Bon appétit!
  • Lightly boiled and tossed with a little butter and fresh ground pepper, celeriac pairs perfectly with meat, poultry and fish. Try it as a new side dish today!

 

Chioggia beets

While you may not have known their name at the time, you’ve probably already seen Chioggia beets. They’re the colourful tubers with beautiful white and purple stripes when cut open. Originally from Chioggia, a small town in northeastern Italy, these tender decorative beets have a slightly peppery yet sweet flavour. You’ll find these fabulous-looking treats in Quebec produce aisle from August to March. Bring some home tonight…they have a taste that’s hard to beet!

Chef’s tips

When buying beets, avoid those with wrinkled skin as this is a sign of dehydration. Once you get home, store them in the refrigerator without their leaves to ensure maximum freshness.

  • Bursting with flavour, Chioggia beets are delicious served raw. In addition to grating them in salads, you can use them to make a crunchy Carpaccio. Simply slice the tubers very thin (use this variety only or mix with other coloured beets like yellow or red), drizzle with walnut oil and garnish with walnuts, chives and orange zest. A sure-fire hit!
  • Since these beets lose their colour when boiled, go for steaming or baking instead. For example, peel and cut beets into wedges of equal size. Cover and steam about 15 minutes (or until desired doneness) before enjoying warm or cold with goat cheese, parsley and a good olive oil. We guarantee you’ll want seconds!
  • When preparing Chioggia beets in bundles, place peeled chunks on a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil before sealing. Cook at 200?C (400?F) for 35 minutes or until desired doneness. Season to taste with aromatics like thyme, rosemary and cumin.
     

Jerusalem artichoke

Also known as “sunchokes,” “sunroots” and “earth apples,” Jerusalem artichokes look like ginger rhizomes. They have a crisp and juicy texture similar to water chestnuts. With their slightly sweet flavour, these delights for your taste buds are sure to be kid approved. As an added bonus, these little veggies contain high levels of inulin, a prebiotic that helps maintain optimal gastrointestinal health.

Chef’s tips

Like celery root, Jerusalem artichokes brown quickly so you want to drizzle them with an acid ingredient (such as lemon juice, dressing or dip) quickly to avoid oxidation.

  • Sunchokes are delicious served raw when peeled and grated into salads. The same mayonnaise-and-mustard remoulade sauce that goes so well with celery root is a complement par excellence for sunchokes too. Nuts and hazelnut oil also have great flavour profiles for enhancing their sweet taste.
  • Steamed, baked or pan-fried, these tasty tubers are a delicious substitute for potatoes. Try grilling them on the barbecue for something new. Simply place equal size chunks of Jerusalem artichoke and onion on aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil and pepper to taste before sealing and setting on the grill. Not only is this recipe quick and easy to prepare, we guarantee it has flavour to spare. You can also pan fry a mixture of sunchokes and mushrooms in olive oil, butter and garlic. Garnish with fresh parsley for a side dish that’s out of this world!
     

Fennel

Fennel is the large bulb that many people mistakenly refer to as “anise” or “dill” due to its licorice-like flavour. Whether served cooked or raw, this one-of-a-kind vegetable always packs a refreshing punch. Often associated with dieting, fennel is very low in calories with only 28 per 250 ml (1 cup) serving. Originally from the Mediterranean, this veggie is a significant source of several nutrients including Vitamin C and potassium.

Chef’s tips

When buying fennel, make sure bulbs are as white as possible and free of any brown spots.

  • Fennel is another vegetable that tastes great served raw in salads as it gives them a tangy crunch. Toss sliced fennel, orange supremes, pomegranate seeds and fresh mint in a sweet honey vinaigrette for a delicious side dish sure to tickle your taste buds.
  • Fennel sticks are a great way to bring veggie platters and snacks to new heights.
  • Baked, braised or pan fried, this bulb pairs beyond compare with other vegetables and fish.
  • Fennel leaves are great for enhancing the flavour of many dishes. Use them like you would fresh dill, as the herb of choice for smoked salmon and other fish, sauces, dips and egg-based dishes (such as omelets, quiches and flan).
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