by Helen Legare
Most people don't think of an abundant harvest of healthy vegetables during the cool winter months however the cool months offer us many great vegetables. Collards must be the most popular winter vegetable and a must eat dish on New Year's Day. Collards are best when harvested after the first frost but on the coast we often don't have frost until January. We can get the same effect by washing the collards in cool water then wrapping them in damp paper towels and putting them in the freezer for 15 minutes. Collards aren't just delicious but offer us a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, and iron. While we are enjoying one of our best southern treasures, we're eating healthy too. Another great benefit to collards is that they freeze wonderfully so that they can be enjoyed year round.
There are many other cool season vegetables that we can enjoy during the winter months. Kale has become a very popular addition to our diets. Kale also adds healthy benefits such as large amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium. Kale chips is probably the most popular way to eat kale. Kale chips are easy to prepare and easy to eat. Kale can be served raw in salads and cooked in soups.
Broccoli another great cool season vegetable is easily found both at farmers markets and the grocery store during the winter months. Broccoli can be one of the most healthy vegetables we can eat but can also be an unhealthy choice. It's all in the way, it's prepared. There must be a few hundred ways to prepare broccoli but one of the best ways to eat it, is one of the easiest, just plain raw. Broccoli is often found on vegetable platters but also makes a great casserole. It doesn't get any better than broccoli casserole or chicken and broccoli casserole. Baked broccoli is a more recent addition to our recipe files. Broccoli with a tiny bit of olive oil roasted in the oven is addictive. Parmesan cheese can be sprinkled over the top for an even better taste. Broccoli adds nutritious value to our diet with lots of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin D, and some calcium.
Cool season vegetables are readily available fresh from the farm even in the cold months. Take the time to search out our locally grown vegetables, whether at a farmers, at your favorite grocery store, or directly from the farm.
2 bunches fresh broccoli
2 (10 ¾ ounce) cans of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup lemon juice
1 (4 ounce) jar sliced pimiento, drained
1 ½ cups cheese cracker crumbs
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp process American cheese
Trim off large leaves of broccoli, and remove tough ends of lower stalks. Wash broccoli thoroughly and separate into spears. Cook broccoli, covered, in a small a small amount of boiling water 10 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain well, reserving vegetable liquid. Set broccoli aside.
Add water to reserved liquid to equal 1 cup; combine liquid, soup, mayonnaise, and lemon juice, stirring well. Set aside a few pimiento strips for garnish; stir remaining pimiento into soup mixture. Combine cracker crumbs and cheese, and stir well.
Arrange half of broccoli in a 2-quart shallow casserole. Spoon half of sauce over broccoli, and sprinkle with half of crumb mixture. Repeat layers; garnish with reserved pimento strips. Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees, for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Yield: 8 servings.