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A Black Iron Haven

Veggie Tales II



Posted by Kathy Mansfield

Vegetables? Yuck! That’s been my usual response when offered vegetables for any meal, unless they were potatoes or green beans. But, recently I’ve widened my pallet. Rick made a semi-New Year’s resolution to eat more vegetables, especially those he has never tried. Since I live here, too, that meant that I would end up having to try them, as well.

My in-laws were recently on an asparagus kick, so when we visited them earlier this year we were served this “new-to-us” vegetable several times. After we returned to Kentucky, Rick found a recipe for asparagus that we could prepare in cast iron. Although asparagus is not my favorite dish, this turn-her-nose-up-at-green-vegetables-girl has actually requested this particular asparagus recipe for dinner more than once.

PAN-GRILLED GLAZED ASPARAGUS
(adapted from "Mustard-and-Mayonnaise Glazed Asparagus" by Nate Appleman, Food & Wine, June, 2009)



Cast Iron Required:
10.25” cast iron grill pan

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup coarse grain mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. thick asparagus, trimmed
Directions
In a shallow dish, whisk the mayonnaise with the mustard, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the asparagus and turn to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Heat a cast iron grill pan over a medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until the spears are tender and lightly blistered in spots—about 6 minutes. Serve the asparagus hot or at room temperature.
MacGourmet users, click image to download recipe (or simply drag image to your MacGourmet recipe box).



I was reluctant to try the next new vegetable Rick made. He announced proudly one day that he had bought brussels sprouts and had found a recipe to try with them. Nothing about that announcement sounded good to me. But, lo and behold, Rick found a way for me to like brussels sprouts—sautéed in cast iron! A key to this recipe for me is the fresh grated Parmesan cheese. I have always thought that most things taste better with cheese, and I’ve learned that most things taste better when cooked in cast iron. I put one tiny brussels sprout on my plate, knowing how disappointed Rick would be if I didn’t at least try one. It looked like a small cabbage. I closed my eyes and popped it in my mouth. I was pleasantly surprised! Who knew that I would start liking brussels sprouts at the age of 43?

GOLDEN-CRUSTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS
(adapted from the recipe by Heidi Swanson in her book Super Natural Cooking)



Cast Iron Required:
10.25” or 12” cast iron skillet with lid

Ingredients

  • 24 small brussels sprouts
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing
  • fine grain sea salt
  • black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/2 Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Directions
Trim the stem ends of the brussels sprouts and remove any raggedy outer leaves. Cut in half from stem to top and gently rub in olive oil, keeping it intact. Heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 10.25" or 12" cast iron skillet over medium heat. Don't overcook the skillet, or the outsides of the brussels sprouts will cook too quickly. Place the brussels sprouts in the skillet, flat side down, sprinkle with a couple of pinches of salt, cover and cook for about 5 minutes.



The bottoms of the sprouts should only show a hint of browning. Cut into or taste one of the sprouts to gauge whether they're tender throughout. If not, cover and cook for a few more minutes.

Once just tender, uncover, turn up the heat, and cook until the flat sides are deep brown and caramelized. use a metal spatula to toss them once or twice to get some browning on the rounded side. Use a spatula to toss them once or twice to get some browning on the rounded side. Season with more salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a dusting of grated cheese.

Best if served immediately.

MacGourmet users, click image to download recipe (or simply drag image to your MacGourmet recipe box).




A coupon book arrived in the mail the next week with a few recipes thrown in, one of which featured zucchini—another green vegetable I had never tried. This time I was going to take the lead and surprise Rick with my new find. The zucchini casserole was easy to make and featured fresh Parmesan. We were out, so I substituted Parmesano Regianno. Mmmm-mmmm, good!

SKILLET ZUCCHINI GRATIN



Cast Iron Required:
10 1/4” Cast Iron Skillet

Ingredients

  • 5-6 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Directions:
Heat cream in a small saucepan with garlic and thyme just until it starts to boil. Remove and set aside.

Slice zucchini in 1/8-inch thick rounds.

In a buttered 10.25" cast iron skillet, layer zucchini, salt, pepper, sprinkles of Parmesan cheese, panko bread crumbs, drizzles of heavy cream. Repeat layers until the pan is almost full. Finish the top with bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

MacGourmet users, click image to download recipe (or simply drag image to your MacGourmet recipe box).

I think I’m seeing a pattern here: cast iron plus cheese makes vegetables that will please!

For more of Kathy’s vegetable recipes, see her first Veggie Tales post from last year.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below, or you can contact Kathy directly at kathy@cookingincastiron.com.

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