Traverse City Record-Eagle

Food

February 14, 2013

Classes teach vegetable cooking

TRAVERSE CITY — Many people have a love-hate relationship with vegetables.

They love them when they’re drenched in butter, gravy or cheese; they hate them otherwise.

That makes eating at least five vegetables a day seem daunting.But vegetables prepared properly and creatively — sans the butter, gravy and cheese — don’t have to be a chore to eat, said Laura McCain, instructor of a class held recently at Northwestern Michigan College. In “The Art of Vegetable Cooking,” she teaches that you can eat healthfully and be excited about it, too.

The chef and Munson Medical Center dietitian shared tricks and techniques for making the most colorful part of our diet easy and delicious in the Feb. 8 class at NMC’s Oleson Center. The traditionally waitlisted class is sponsored periodically by the Health Education Institute, a partnership between the college and the hospital.

“People come because they want to expand their repertoire,” said McCain, who loves both the science and art of cooking. “Everyone knows they should do vegetables, but they get in a rut.”

McCain’s tips for perfect vegetables include not overcooking them, picking the freshest vegetables you can find and cooking them soon after they come home with you, and enhancing their natural beauty and taste instead of drowning them out with too much sauce, manipulation or cooking time.

“The number one mistake people make is overcooking,” said McCain, whose favorite cookbooks for vegetables include “Fields of Greens” by restaurant executive chef Annie Somerville and “Fast @news:Food My Way” @news:and “New Complete Techniques” by celebrity TV chef Jacques Pépin. “And they don’t know about cooking with water.”

For instance, boiling broccoli pieces in about 1/4 cup of salted water with olive oil for three minutes before removing the lid for two minutes helps keep the vegetables green and firm, yet tender and flavorful. Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family, and using this process helps keep the cabbage notes at bay.

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