You wouldn’t know it from my diet now, but when I was younger I was “that” kid. When told I couldn’t leave the dinner table until after I had finished my vegetables, I would sit in my chair moving my carrots or corn around with my fork until my mom had no choice but to let me free. I was also the one who only ate the holiday green bean casserole because of its fried and crispy topping. And even more shameful, as an Italian, I was the one who would eat my way around the floating specks of green in the bowls filled with my great grandma’s wedding soup.

Yes, I was one of those vegetable-avoiding children. Maybe if vegetables came in ice cream-form I might have enjoyed them more, but for much of my childhood, vegetables were the enemy. Gradually, however, I came to realize that vegetables were enjoyable to eat. When boiled and glazed with brown sugar, those sides of carrots are worth every forkful. While we all know that the fried onions do make the casserole, I now happily finish the green beans at the bottom of the dish. And my spoon no longer dodges the escarole in my grandma’s soup. Fortunately for my parents (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), fights over vegetables are a thing of the past, replaced instead by arguments over grades, home curfews and boys.

Looking back, my avoiding vegetables was laughable, especially when considering how much I love them today. Having recently become a vegetarian, I have officially committed myself to an herbivore lifestyle and embraced it. Except for the challenge of finding new vitamins to replace my gelatin-based gummy supplements, adjusting to a meat-free diet has been reasonably painless, and the season’s bounty makes it easy to create simple, hearty meals to satisfy a growling stomach.

In the midst of the winter season, one of my favorite vegetables is kale. A type of cabbage, the vegetable comes in either green or purple form. A simple sauteed preparation with a dash of red pepper flakes is a nice change to a boring side of spinach, and when baked into chips, kale is a healthier alternative to fried potatoes. Once roasted, kale offers a contrasting texture when added to salads. For those resolving to eat more healthfully in 2012, kale works well in those infamous “green monster” smoothies. Even if you think you aren’t the biggest fan of eating green, maybe consuming kale in its purple form will convince you of vegetables’ benefits.

Parmesan, White Bean and Kale Soup

Serves 2

Ingredients:

Large handful of kale, stems trimmed

2 ½ cups vegetable stock

¾ cup canned white beans, drained

1 cup dried, short-cut pasta, such as shells or elbows

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Salt, to taste

Grated Parmesan

Directions:

1. In a covered pot, bring a few inches of water to a boil. Once boiling, salt the water and then add the kale and cover. Cook for 10 minutes until the kale is tender. Drain. Once cool enough to handle, cut the kale into bite-sized pieces.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring vegetable stock to a boil. Add the white beans and the kale and cook to heat them through. Then add the pasta and cook until tender, according to package directions.

3. Once pasta is cooked through, remove saucepan from heat. Add salt to taste and a generous amount of pepper.

4. Serve hot topped with grated Parmesan.

Bethany Imondi is a junior in the College. MARKET TO TABLE appears every other Friday in the guide.

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