Friday, May 28

It's Not the Vegetables, It's My Cooking

I’m kind of odd, if you haven’t already guessed. Adding to my long list of quirks is my love affair with vegetables. I eat meat too, but I prefer the flavor of veggies over just about anything else.

For example, during a fabulous Italian vacation a few years ago, my friends, husband and I stopped in a quaint little restaurant in Siena for dinner. After an exhausting day of sightseeing, we were famished. Our server, Ercole, was amiable and enthusiastic about the food. He recommended a local red wine and several of their hearty pasta dishes. Satisfying my companions’ hunger were heaping plates of spaghetti bolognese and pici al ragu. And what Italian delight did I order? A plate of grilled vegetables. Like I said, I’m kind of odd.

It wasn’t always this way. I was like every other kid, spitting out broccoli and brussel sprouts into my napkin. And once, I laughed at the dinner table during the blessing—on purpose—so I would be sent to bed without dinner. We were having liver.

Thankfully, we didn’t have liver very often. But vegetables were served at every dinner and they were consistently boiled or steamed. It was boring and bland (sorry Mom). And I get that. I’m a mom too, and guilty of throwing a bowl of frozen peas in the microwave and then transferring them to the table. But I notice when I do this, the bowl is just as full leaving the table as it was entering it. My good intentions gone to waste.

Over the years, I’ve learned the secret to making tasty veggies is moving them out of the microwave, off the steamer, and into the oven. Roasting them makes all the difference. Last night I roasted asparagus. With a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and a 350-degree oven, you go from tired to tasty in fifteen minutes.

Another one of my favorite vegetable recipes is below. I double the amount of tomatoes it calls for because my family is usually fighting over every last morsel. And the sauce it produces just aches for some chicken or steak to be dredged through it.

Try it out. Even if your kids don’t like it, this might just make your favorite list too.

Sherry Cherry Tomatoes
(Original recipe from Rachel Ray, although I’ve modified it a bit to decrease the oil and sugar content)


1 Tbls. olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 Tbls sherry wine
1 packet of Splenda
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ tsp salt


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Preheat a skillet over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, garlic and onions. Sweat them out 2 to 3 minutes then add cherry tomatoes. Turn the tomatoes to coat them in the oil. Add sherry, Splenda, pepper flakes and salt. Toss to coat the tomatoes and put them in the preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes.

I like to use two packages of the Nature Sweet cherry tomatoes. They’re the perfect size. You can substitute grape tomatoes, just decrease the roasting time to about 7-10 minutes. You want the tomatoes cooked through, but you don’t want the skins to split open.
When that happens the dish becomes a mushy mess. (Been there, done that!)

Caution: These suckers are extremely hot right out of the oven. They will burst in your mouth like an explosion of lava. Let them cool for 10-15 minutes before you serve them.


  1. You and I are going to get along fabulously. I love, love, love (did I say love?) vegetables, especially grilled. I guess I'm odd too, I have ordered many a grilled vegetable entrees before. Do you remember Mick's in Atl? They had a great grilled veggie plate.

    Another trick I try for introducing new vegetables (or familiar vegetables a new way) to my kids is to serve the "new" dish as an appetizer course. It's the only thing on their plates, they're hungry, and more apt to try several bites.

  2. I love veggies, too. Thanks for the tips. Here's a trick I use with myself and my kids. I wrap my veggies in bacon. Or I put them on a burger. ;)

    No seriously - the Sherry Cherry Tomato recipe is fantastic! So are the oven roasted veggies. And this is coming from a guy who loves meat, fast food and all things bad for you. You should really try it.

  3. I am going to have to completely agree with you Michael on the bacon. I'm pretty sure I could eat tree bark with bacon wrapped around it.

    The Sherry Cherry Tomatoes do sound good. I'm hoping I can find some tomatoes at the farmers' market this morning.

  4. Cooking has changed over the years. You're lucky I didn't mix liver, broccoli, brussel sprout, rice, and a can of cream of mushroom/chicken soup together. So eating those veggies separately with just butter, salt, and pepper was a treat. I used the cookbooks 101 WAYS TO USED HAMBURGER, and the one with a gazillion casserole recipes. You forgot to mention that you use to "spit" your veggies in your milk. I no longer cook casseroles (too many calories), love your recipes and use them often. Never too old to learn. Love ya!

  5. For the record, my (one) plate of pasta was not heaping.

    We've been wicked busy the past several weeks so I'm just now getting to read your blog...hilarious and clever as always! Great job!