Quick, flavorful veggies

Growing up, I never ADORED broccoli. It didn’t bother me to eat it, but it wasn’t my favorite either. Some regulars where I work bring their two kids with them all the time, and they would always (wait for it) VOLUNTARILY get broccoli as a side!! I was uber impressed. Which may or may not have been the reason I started cooking broccoli more at home 😉

Turns out it’s a good thing I did, since Aubrey now LOVES broccoli! She will even eat it -gasp- RAW!  The first time this happened I was cutting broccoli to make the way I’m going to show you, and she asked, “Mom, can I have one right now?” (grabbing a piece off the cutting board). I was kind of quietly freaking out in my head. Don’t make a big deal out of it or it will ruin it! I was thinking in a terribly over-excited voice in my head. Very calmly and off-handedly I said, “Sure honey.” I watched out of the corner of my eye because I was certain she was going to spit it in the garbage. But she didn’t! And now broccoli is probably her favorite vegetable, with cauliflower coming in a close second.

So how did I make it the first time I bought fresh broccoli and cut it off the stalk? Sorry to say I didn’t steam it or even blanche it. Nah… I take baby steps. Here’s how I like to cook these now – and they’re usually a hit with everyone in the family (I guess I’m still working on the hubs though).

First, obviously, cut up your vegetables. I try to cut the broccoli and cauliflower into smaller pieces for the kids (remember my definition of kid-friendly?)
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Then melt a generous tablespoon or so of butter in a skillet over low to medium heat. (Yes, sorry, this is not really a healthy dish by today’s standards. Back in the 50s maybe, sure.) You want the melted butter to cover the surface of the pan.
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Once it’s all melted and you’ve tilted the pan to cover the entire surface, evenly sprinkle some Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and paprika. It will form almost like a shortened version of a compound butter, which is going to coat our vegetables very nicely.
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Then place the prepared veggies in the pan – just enough to cover the surface. Now DON’T TOUCH! Let it sit for a minute or so, and sprinkle more seasonings on the top of the veg.
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Then give the pan a good shake to move the veggies around and coat other sides of them. After another minute or so you can do a little flip with the pan to rotate them even more.

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Here’s where you have some options.
1. You can add another pat of butter to the middle (aaaand maybe the sides too) of the pan and sprinkle more seasonings over top of the veg. This is the best way. The seasoned butter sticks so well to the veggies and forms almost like a crust of deliciousness!
2. If you have some chicken stock open in the fridge, or possible using it for your main dish, you can add a splash or two to the pan to hydrate the veggies some more. I must warn you: it will sizzle and probably whatever bits of seasonings are on the bottom of the pan, it will kind of clump them up and form a chewy… substance. haha. But if you like them more moist this is probably the way to go.

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Look at that seasoned yummy-ness!

Now. Yes we use a fair amount of butter here, but what I like about it is it gives the veggies flavor without overcooking them (the more you cook veggies the more nutrients leak out). I should tell you now, this is part of my process of introducing new foods to my kids, particularly vegetables (see QUICK TIP). And although I’m glad Aubrey enjoys raw broccoli, I really don’t enjoy the dry raw florets, so this preparation is a perfect compromise! Hope you enjoy it too.

Quick Tip – Introducing Vegetables to Kids (Or, how to get them to eat healthier!)

I unconsciously developed this, shall we say, method for introducing new foods to my kids, particularly vegetables. If you know me you know that I try my best to make healthy meals for my family, but I am not an extreme health nut. I like to try to strike a balance. “Everything in moderation” as my mom always says.

So whenever I’m introducing something new to my young kids, I give myself a little leeway in the health department. I’ll choose a preparation that I think they will like, even if it’s not the healthiest. For example, a recipe that uses butter or cheese. Or maybe BBQ sauce. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A DIPPING SAUCE to get kids to eat, well, just about anything!

Then once I establish it as a friendly food that they enjoy, I will put it in a soup, or a sauce, or mix it into a pasta, and then try healthier cooking preparations. My 5 year old regularly asks, “What’s in this Mom?” I stopped trying to hide things from her a long time ago. She was too smart for that. So at this point I’ll say, “Zucchini! Remember how much you liked zucchini last week?” Usually the response is, “Oh yeah! Yum!”

One other tip: let the kids be around you while you’re prepping a meal. Even better yet, let them help in whatever way is safe and doesn’t make an enormous mess. This is how I learned which raw veggies my kids will eat (Aubrey loves broccoli, Brendan loves bell peppers and tomatoes, Camille loves tomatoes). Once they’re old enough, you can also include them in the actual planning part. Give them some pre-approved dinner or side options and let them choose. The more they feel they’ve contributed, the more they’ll take ownership and be willing to try things.

You can follow my blog to see some different ways I’ve done this and adapt them to your family. Good luck! Have fun experimenting!!