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Five nutritional powerhouses you should add into your diet now

  • White Bean, Andouille and Kale Soup. Illustrates HEALTHFUL (category d) Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, special to The Washington Post. Moved Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Tracy A. Woodward.)

    White Bean, Andouille and Kale Soup. Illustrates HEALTHFUL (category d) Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, special to The Washington Post. Moved Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Tracy A. Woodward.)

  • White Bean, Andouille and Kale Soup. Illustrates HEALTHFUL (category d) Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, special to The Washington Post. Moved Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Tracy A. Woodward.)

    White Bean, Andouille and Kale Soup. Illustrates HEALTHFUL (category d) Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, special to The Washington Post. Moved Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Tracy A. Woodward.)

  • Lemon Garlic Israeli Couscous With Cauliflower. If youÕre accustomed to seeing cauliflower drowning in a cheese sauce, this pilaf _ light, bright and modern _ will be a revelation. Illustrates HEALTHFUL (category d) Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, special to The Washington Post. Moved Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Tracy A. Woodward.)

    Lemon Garlic Israeli Couscous With Cauliflower. If youÕre accustomed to seeing cauliflower drowning in a cheese sauce, this pilaf _ light, bright and modern _ will be a revelation. Illustrates HEALTHFUL (category d) Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, special to The Washington Post. Moved Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Tracy A. Woodward.)

  • Lemon Garlic Israeli Couscous With Cauliflower. If youÕre accustomed to seeing cauliflower drowning in a cheese sauce, this pilaf _ light, bright and modern _ will be a revelation. Illustrates HEALTHFUL (category d) Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, special to The Washington Post. Moved Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Tracy A. Woodward.)

    Lemon Garlic Israeli Couscous With Cauliflower. If youÕre accustomed to seeing cauliflower drowning in a cheese sauce, this pilaf _ light, bright and modern _ will be a revelation. Illustrates HEALTHFUL (category d) Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, special to The Washington Post. Moved Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Tracy A. Woodward.)

  • White Bean, Andouille and Kale Soup. Illustrates HEALTHFUL (category d) Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, special to The Washington Post. Moved Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Tracy A. Woodward.)
  • White Bean, Andouille and Kale Soup. Illustrates HEALTHFUL (category d) Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, special to The Washington Post. Moved Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Tracy A. Woodward.)
  • Lemon Garlic Israeli Couscous With Cauliflower. If youÕre accustomed to seeing cauliflower drowning in a cheese sauce, this pilaf _ light, bright and modern _ will be a revelation. Illustrates HEALTHFUL (category d) Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, special to The Washington Post. Moved Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Tracy A. Woodward.)
  • Lemon Garlic Israeli Couscous With Cauliflower. If youÕre accustomed to seeing cauliflower drowning in a cheese sauce, this pilaf _ light, bright and modern _ will be a revelation. Illustrates HEALTHFUL (category d) Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, special to The Washington Post. Moved Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Tracy A. Woodward.)

Even in the bright new days of the new year, cabbages, cauliflower and rutabagas are nutritional powerhouses in need of a little PR. They can bring new and unexpected flavors to the table, but ho-hum ways of cooking them fail to inspire all but the most loyal fans.

For large cabbages, like savoy, take a page from what has happened to Brussels sprouts, which are being roasted or shredded, then quickly sauteed. With similar treatment, savoy cabbage could become filling for ravioli or mashed into potatoes with caramelized onions. Stir-fried Napa cabbage pairs beautifully with shiitake mushrooms as egg roll filling or in fried rice.

Roasting yields great results for cauliflower, as does pan-steaming. Pair it with acidic ingredients such as citrus or vinegar, and don’t forget to think about using blanched or steamed, bite-size pieces in mixed winter salads.

Humble, homely rutabagas tend to be overlooked altogether. They’re covered with a thin wax, which makes them hard to peel.

This is the year to enjoy them without the crutches of cream and butter; try roasting chunks of rutabaga, then glamorize with a sweet-sour dressing.

Kale had quite a run in 2012, as it was worked into Caesar salads, massaged with tahini vinaigrettes and folded into casseroles. If its bitter taste or toughness is a stumbling block, a brief blanch in boiling salted water should do the trick. Or you can add baby kale to softer, sweet vegetables such as winter squashes and carrots.

To get you started, here’s a week’s worth of healthful dishes that lends cooking love to all these ingredients.

Lemon Garlic Israeli Couscous
With Cauliflower

2 cups dried Israeli couscous

salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

12 ounces cauliflower florets, broken or cut into small pieces about 3∕4-inch long at the widest point

1∕2 cup homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth

freshly ground black pepper

finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons (4 to 6 teaspoons zest, 6 tablespoons juice)

1∕2 teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Prepare the couscous according to the package directions, making sure to add a pinch of salt to the cooking water.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a deep, 10-inch nonstick saute pan or skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and a pinch of salt.

Cook for about 8 minutes, until the garlic is soft, stirring frequently and adjusting the heat as needed to keep the garlic from browning.

Add the cauliflower and stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium-high; add the broth, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cover. Cook for 7 to 9 minutes, until the cauliflower pieces are tender when pierced with a fork. Uncover and cook just until the broth has evaporated but the cauliflower still looks moist, about 1 minute.

When the couscous is ready, transfer it to a large bowl along with the lemon zest and juice, sugar and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cauliflower and garlic, and toss to combine.

Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 7 or 8 servings.

Twice-Baked Curried Potatoes
With Savoy Cabbage

1 tablespoon olive oil

5 teaspoons unsalted butter, or more to taste

11∕3 cups finely diced onion

salt

8 ounces savoy cabbage, cut into approximately 3∕4-inch dice

1 tablespoon sweet curry powder, or your favorite curry powder

21∕2 pounds baking or russet potatoes, baked until tender, flesh scooped out, shells discarded or reserved for another use

6 ounces plain nonfat yogurt

1 cup homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth, or more as needed

1∕2 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

freshly ground black pepper

Grease six 6-ounce ramekins with nonstick cooking oil spray and place them on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the oil and 3 teaspoons of the butter in a large nonstick saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and season with salt to taste. Reduce the heat to medium; cook for 6 to 7 minutes, until the onion is very soft. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring every minute or so, for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cabbage is soft. Add the curry powder; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Use a potato masher or large spoon to mash the baked potato flesh in a large bowl. (Small lumps are fine; just make sure to break up any large ones.)

Add the cabbage mixture and the yogurt. Stir to combine well.

Add the broth, sugar and cilantro.

Mix well; season with salt and pepper to taste, and thin with additional broth.

Either spoon the mixture into a piping bag or a resealable plastic freezer bag with the corner cut off, and pipe the mixture decoratively into the ramekins; or spoon the mixture directly into the ramekins.

Melt the remaining 2 teaspoons of butter in a small dish in the microwave or the preheated oven. Brush the top of the potato mixture in each ramekin with the butter.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the potato mixture is lightly browned around the edges.

Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve hot. Makes 6 servings.

MAKE AHEAD: These can be made a day in advance.

Cover with aluminum foil and reheat in a 350-degree oven until hot, about 25 minutes; remove the foil after 15 minutes.

Roasted Rutabagas
With Golden Raisin-Maple
Vinaigrette

2-pound rutabaga, peeled and cut into roughly 1-inch chunks (see note)

11∕2 tablespoons olive oil

salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1∕3 cup golden raisins, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Toss together the rutabaga and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a nonstick roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, turning the pieces over every 10 to 15 minutes, until the rutabaga is tender.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1∕2 tablespoon of oil with the vinegar, maple syrup and raisins. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk to form an emulsified vinaigrette.

Transfer the rutabaga to a serving dish; spoon the vinaigrette over the rutabaga. Serve warm.

NOTE: To peel the rutabaga, cut off a thin slice at the root and stem ends.

Stand the rutabaga on a cutting board, with one of the cut sides down. Use a large, sharp knife to slice off the peel, cutting from top to bottom.

Napa Cabbage, Shiitake
and Pork Fried Rice

1 tablespoon mild olive or peanut oil

4 medium scallions, white and light-green parts, cut crosswise into slices (1∕2 cup)

1 medium carrot, cut into approximately 1∕4-inch dice
(1∕2 cup)

8 ounces lean ground pork

1∕8 teaspoon salt

4 ounces shiitake
mushrooms (stems discarded), thinly sliced

8 ounces Napa cabbage,
cut into strips 1 inch long and 1∕2 inch wide

2 cups cooked rice,
preferably sushi rice, but any brown or white variety will do

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, or to taste

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, or to taste

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Heat the olive or peanut oil in a large braising or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the scallions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Add the carrot; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.

Add the pork and salt; cook, stirring, until the pork just starts to lose its raw look. Add the shiitakes and cook, stirring every 30 seconds or so, for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms soften and just start to brown. Add the cabbage.

Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the cabbage wilts and softens. Add the cooked rice and mix well. Distribute the soy sauce and sesame oil evenly over the contents of the pan, stirring to combine.

When everything is well mixed, move the rice and vegetables to the edges of the pan, creating a well in the center.

Pour the beaten egg into the well and scramble it until cooked.

Mix the egg with the rice-and-vegetable mixture, breaking up any large clumps of egg.

Taste, and add soy sauce and/or sesame oil as needed. Serve warm.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

White Bean, Andouille
and Kale Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil

3∕4 cup diced onion (from 1 small onion)

1 medium carrot, cut into approximately 1∕4-inch dice
(1∕2 cup)

1 rib celery, cut into approximately 1∕4-inch dice (1∕2 cup)

salt

8 ounces fresh andouille sausage, casings removed

3 ounces peeled, seeded winter squash, such as butternut, cut into approximately 1∕2-inch dice

1 medium potato, peeled and cut into approximately 1∕2-inch dice (6 ounces)

1∕2 cup canned no-salt-added chopped Italian-style tomatoes, drained

15.5-ounce can no-salt-added Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed (12∕3 cups)

1∕3 cup uncooked basmati or long-grain white rice

6 cups homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth, more as needed

freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces kale, baby kale or Swiss chard, thick stems removed and discarded, leaves torn into approximately 11∕2-inch pieces

water, as needed

Heat the oil in a 4- to 5-quart soup pot over medium-high heat.

Add the onion; cook for about 3 minutes, until the onion starts to soften.

Add the carrot, celery and salt to taste; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.

Add the andouille; cook for about 5 minutes, until the sausage appears to be cooked, using a spoon to break up any clumps.

Add the squash, potato, tomatoes, beans, rice and broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring the broth to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for about 20 minutes, adjusting the heat so the broth maintains a very slow boil, until the rice is cooked through and the potatoes are tender.

While the soup is cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

Add the kale and cook for 2 minutes. If you’re using baby kale or chard, cook for 1 minute.

Immediately pour into a colander to drain.

When the soup is ready, add the blanched greens and stir to combine.

Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.

If the soup is too thick, thin with water or additional broth.

Makes about 91∕2 cups (6 to 8 servings).

MAKE AHEAD: This soup benefits from being prepared a day in advance, covered and refrigerated; taste after reheating, and adjust the seasoning as needed.

If the soup has thickened too much from being stored, add just enough water or broth to reach the desired consistency.

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