When I was little, I would take hours to finish my dinner, which generally comprised of dahl (lentils), subzi, (veggies), and roti (homemade flat wheat bread). My mom would bring a fresh, hot roti to my plate and put a thick slab of butter on there, which I would watch melt and drip across the roti and onto my plate with delight. I knew that this treat would only be warm and buttery for so long, so I devoured it, occasionally dipping it in my dahl.
As for most other kids, the last thing on my plate would be the veggies. I'd stare at them for hours, spreading them around my plate to make it look like they'd been mostly eaten. (Note to kids: this never worked. Tell me if you find a better way). After my dad and my sister finished dinner, my mom would come to the table and make sure I ate every last bite, often wrapping my subzi into a warm roti and saying, "Here, it's like a burrito."
Today, I find that while I really do like vegetables, I'm often loath to cook them up as a separate side dish, either because it's too much effort or because they come out tasting somewhat boring. This not only leads to a less healthy diet, but, as Katie discussed yesterday, leads to many a veggie escaping death by eating and instead succumbing to death by molding. Much like parents try to invent new ways to disguise veggies in their children's meals, I find myself trying to hide veggies from myself. Luckily for me, this self-trickery works very well. Here are some tips for getting your veggies out of your fridge and into your belly:
1. Blend them into a sauce, pesto or soup
Last week, I made this wonderful Green Pea Pesto recipe from our friend Erin at fresh365. I'd never made a vegetable-based pesto, and I found it to be a very clever way to hide my peas. It felt like I was eating a gourmet pasta dish - somewhat decadent and rich, incredibly flavorful with the capers, lemon and basil, but unbeknownst to me, packed with antioxidants, protein, and other nutrients! Wahahahaha. Trick #1 was a huge success. It occurs to me that veggie-based soups would be another great blending method - I've done this with butternut squash with great results.
2. Wrap them up "like a burrito"
Mom's trick was a good one. I'll often chop up bell peppers, onions, spinach and other veggies, stir fry them with chicken or beef and hide in a taco or quesadilla. You can get really creative with those. In fact, on Friday, Blake and I took our out-of-town friend, Ravi, to one of our favorite Mexican establishments, where they serve a pretty killer vegetarian fajita. Admittedly Friday's fajitas were not as well seasoned as on past occasions (sorry, Ravi!), but they packed in the veggies: snow peas, mushrooms, cauliflower, onions, peppers, plantains. Very tricky! Last week I discovered a new concealing tool to add to my tortilla collection: pizza dough. My adventures with calzones not only taught me how to bring more Jersey into my life, but enabled me to stuff some broccoli in my belly that, guaranteed, would not have made it atop my pizza where I could view it in plain sight.
3. Mix them into a one-pot meal
The last trick is a little less tricky in that you will still see the veggies in your dish. But, I think it still works better than having them be their own entity on your plate, because you're forced to eat them with eat bite. Yesterday, I made this Pasta with Goat Cheese, Lemon and Asparagus from our friend Jen @ Dreamy Dish, and I even added my leftover peas to the mix since I knew I wouldn't notice them in there. In the words of Borat, "Great Success!" Stews, chili, and stir-fries are another great one-pot way to get lots o' veggies in the belly.