Broccoli is such an easy vegetable to use. It’s great on salad, in stir-fry and soup, or served by itself as a side dish. We always boiled our broccoli and served it with a little butter and salt. Nowadays I like it best roasted to crispy perfection with garlic and other seasonings. The flavor of broccoli comes out well in the oven. Try tossing chopped broccoli florets with olive oil, salt and garlic slices. Bake at 450° for about 20 minutes, until edges are crispy and the stems are tender. Cutting the florets in half and laying them flat on the baking sheet results in a more caramelized effect. For extra flavor try drizzling with lemon juice or topping with Parmesan cheese.
I’ve found that the oven is easiest to use when cooking this particular vegetable. Because eggplant soaks up oil like a sponge, cooking in a frying pan with oil can be difficult. Best to use a non-stick pan and cook at a higher heat. Try baking your eggplant separately and then adding it to whatever dish you’re making. Start by dicing your mostly peeled eggplant into bite size pieces. Toss with olive oil and cook on a baking sheet at 425° for about 30-40 minutes, stirring halfway through. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve as is or add to pasta, stir-fry, curry, on top of rice, etc)
Or, try making an eggplant tomato bake! Cut your peeled eggplant into ½ inch rounds, arrange on a baking sheet. Top each eggplant round with a slice of tomato. Drizzle with olive oil and season with oregano, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake at 375° until the cheese begins to brown, about 30-40 minutes. Switch oven to broil and bake for another 5 minutes.
Besides potato leek soup, there are plenty of ways to eat leeks. Used as an onion substitute it makes a great base in just about anything. Cook in a little oil until tender as a base for a sauce, sauté, scrambled eggs, soup, etc. The flavor is milder than an onion so I don’t mind having larger chunks. I like to cut them into quarter inch rounds.
This is one of my favorite winter squash. First because it’s so delicious and Second because it’s so easy to prepare! All you have do is cut it in half and throw in the oven. You don’t even need to worry about the skins. Because they are tender enough, you can eat them right along with the flesh. They are also a much easier squash to cut than their larger counterparts so you don’t have to feel like you’re going to skewer yourself trying to slice the thing open. There are many ways to cook and use this squash: they can be baked, steamed, grilled or sautéed. They make a great side to almost any dish or can be added to pasta, salad, sauté, or stuffed. You can also add the creamy flesh to soup which makes for a thick smooth texture (and a wonderful nutty flavor!). My sister recently steamed up some delicata and added it to tomato soup as the base for her vegetable soup. It was a match made in heaven! It added a wonderful thick creamy texture and the flavor was fantastic.