The eighty inventive, flavorful recipes presented in Brassicas play to each vegetable’s strengths, favoring techniques that celebrate their intrinsic flavors instead of masking them by blanketing under layers of cheese or boiling. Think of the inherent sweetness that can be coaxed from perfectly roasted Brussels sprouts, or the bright, peppery punch of a watercress and arugula salad.
Straightforward cooking methods like roasting, sautéing, pickling, and wilting transform brassicas into satisfying dishes, such as Cauliflower Hummus, Spicy Kale Fried Rice, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan Crust, and Broccoli and Pepper Jack Frittata. These recipes also maintain the vegetables’ stellar nutritional properties. High in vitamins and minerals, fiber, phytochemicals, and glucosinolates, brassicas have been shown to act as antioxidants, anticarcinogenics, anti-inflammatories, and liver detoxifiers, and have many other health benefits.
The beauty of these “superfoods” is on full display in Brassicas; exquisite photographs of brassica varieties in their raw forms—roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and buds—can be found throughout, helping you identify Lacinato kale from curly kale or mustard greens from collard greens at the farmers’ market or grocery store.
For those who observe certain dietary restrictions, author Laura B. Russell provides alternatives and tips to accommodate gluten-free, soy-free, vegetarian, and vegan diets. Equipped with complete selection, storage, washing, and prepping instructions, you can enjoy more of these nutritional powerhouses—from the commonplace kale to the more adventurous bok choy or mizuna—in your everyday meals.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
When Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food,” there’s little doubt in my mind that he was referring to foods drawn from the brassica family. Ounce for ounce, brassicas contain more healing properties than any other branch of food. We’re not just talking your basic building blocks of vitamins and minerals—though brassicas are full of these—but foods also rich in phytochemicals that act as anticarcinogenics (anticancer), anti-inflammatories, and promote liver detoxification.
Even though these foods have been around for eons, it’s only in the last few years that science is unraveling all the goodness that brassicas have to offer. In fact, if you’re reading about brassicas here for the first time, consider yourself ahead of the curve; I recently spoke to an audience of 300 nurses, and when I asked for a show of hands of those who knew what brassicas were, maybe a dozen hands went up.
Why is there so little public awareness of these superfoods? Maybe brassicas are in need of a good PR campaign, à la the dancing California Raisins; all I know is there’s plenty of raw material to work with. There are more than a dozen brassicas you’ve probably heard of, including veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Each is a nutritional powerhouse. Broccoli warehouses vitamin K, essential in promoting bone health and reducing the impact of osteoporosis. Cauliflower is loaded, as are many brassicas, with glucosinolates that keep the immune system from overreacting: Such overreaction may be a major player in wrecking health, as it can lead to the kind of chronic inflammation now being linked to cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. In fact, studies show glucosinolates in brassicas may play a role in knocking down a host of cancers, including those that occur in the lungs and alimentary canal (a fancy name that means our entire 20-foot-long digestive tract). Cabbage is rich in a specific phyto-chemical, indole-3-carbinol, which promotes the liver’s removal of estrogen from the body, a benefit to women concerned with hormone-related breast cancer. Brussels sprouts have chemicals believed to play a role in keeping the body’s DNA intact and functioning properly.
In a sense, brassicas are like tiny mechanics, constantly doing tune-ups throughout the body. We certainly need the help; cellular metabolism is amazing but messy, constantly spewing forth toxic by-products that need to be flushed from the system.
A brassica such as kale is a one-man maintenance shop; its high fiber binds with cholesterol to sweep unnecessary fat out of the body, and it’s been shown to inhibit inflammation associated with arthritis.
I could go on and on, citing study after study. It doesn’t matter which brassica you’re looking at—collard greens, horseradish, arugula, even wasabi—the health benefits are enormous. Which begs the question: if brassicas are so good for you, why do we let these power hitters so often ride the pine instead of making their way to the plate?
The simple answer is that, at first glance, brassicas are often pretty darn unwieldy. The aforementioned kale is a big mound of leaves, cabbage looks like a bowling ball, and purple cauliflower resembles something you’d see in a science fiction movie or perhaps a Zombie flick. Braiiiiiiiinnnnnsssssss!!!!
It takes a certain amount of culinary courage to go one on one with a brassica for the first time. You can feel like you need a machete, but as Laura Russell so wonderfully explains, a sharp large knife and a good cutting board can whittle any brassica down to size quickly and efficiently. Aside from their sheer bulk, brassicas have a reputation for being bitter tasting, notably for a sizable percentage of the population who are so-called “supertasters,” aka, folks born with extremely sensitive taste buds. Let’s face it, most of us encountered brassicas when we were young, and if the cook didn’t know how to counter the pungency we ended up looking at the brassica with disdain, a nasty “pill” of culinary medicine to be swallowed.
That’s why it is such a delight to see Russell elevate the brassicas’ taste to a place commensurate with their superstar nutritional prowess. Each recipe in this book delivers on that promise, and as a cook I can appreciate the time and effort that Laura has put into these creative recipes. I often think of brassicas as the emeralds of the food world, so valuable are they to maintaining and promoting health. In this book, Laura Russell allows all of us to partake of their wealth, with dishes that will entice us to go for our greens, again and again.
For this, I can only give thanks. Enjoy!
Rebecca Katz, MS
author of The Longevity Kitchen and Cancer Fighting Kitchen
Cauliflower with Salsa Verde
Cauliflower shines when paired with boldly flavored ingredients like capers, mustard, and olives. Here, I combined that zesty trio with olive oil and fresh herbs in a bright salsa verde, which I spoon over simply roasted florets. You could sauté the cauliflower instead of roasting it, but slipping it into the oven for a quick roast takes the least amount of effort.
1 medium head cauliflower, cored and cut into bite-size florets (about 5 cups)
6 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
1⁄2 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon drained capers, chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 Cerignola or other large green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped (about 1⁄3 cup)
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Put the cauliflower on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and toss to coat evenly, then spread in a single layer.
Roast the cauliflower, stirring once or twice, for about 15 minutes, until golden brown and tender but not mushy. Taste a floret for doneness; larger florets may take slightly longer to cook.
Meanwhile, to make the salsa verde, in a small bowl, combine the parsley, chives, capers, mustard, lemon zest, pepper, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir to mix well. Stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons oil and the olives. (The salsa verde can be made up to 1 day ahead, covered, and refrigerated until serving.)
Transfer the cooked cauliflower to a serving platter and drizzle the salsa verde over the top. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Table of Contents
Brussels Sprouts and Cabbage
Collard Greens, Mustard Greens,
Broccoli Rabe, Arugula, and Cress
Bok Choy, Chinese Broccoli,
Mizuna, Napa Cabbage, and Tatsoi
Root Brassicas and Kohlrabi
Radish, Turnip, Rutabaga, Horseradish, Wasabi, and Kohlrabi
Brassicas and Your Health: Special Issues
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Title: Brassicas Cooking the World's Healthiest Vegetables - Kale, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and More Author: Laura B Russell Publisher: Ten Speed Press Published: 4-8-2014 ISBN: 9781607745716 E-Book: B00FUZR08K Pages: 176 Genre: Food & Wine Tags: Cookbooks, Special Diets, Gluten Free, Vegetables & Vegetarian Overall Rating: Great Reviewed For: NetGalley Reviewer: DelAnne As most of my family will tell you I do enjoy a great steak, fried chicken, even a juicy pork chop, but they will also tell you I gravitate to the vegetables on the table first. There are few I will not eat if prepared well and have a good flavor. Although I must admit I too had to venture out of my normal comfort zone and try a few new vegetables and found I actually liked them. One of them is Kohlrabi the other Rutabaga, even though I have had it before it was not an experience I wanted to repeat, my family shamed me into trying it a least one more time. I was won over with the Roasted Rutabagas With Rosemary And Thyme. Delicious does not begin to describe how great it was. With many added extras Brassicas is a cookbook that needs to be added to any cook's library looking for some new ways to tempt your picky eaters from trying to hide their vegetables and eat them instead.