The problem at my house isn’t in getting the child to eat her vegetables. It’s the husband.
Under extreme duress, meaning Ainsley’s watching him intently, he’ll spear a vegetable and chew it with an exaggerated “MMMMM!” that fools exactly no one.
Occasionally, he actually likes a vegetable (greens, I’m looking at you) and the shock on his face is more than evident.
Roasted veggies, especially, surprise him. “This carrot’s sweet! Did you put sugar on it?!”
No, honey. Carrots are sweet. I chose a good carrot and cooked it a reasonable amount of time. Appropriate cooking times and temperatures, I find, solve any number of vegetable ills. Flavorless green beans? Try cooking them just until bright green and still crunchy. Sulphurous broccoli and cabbage? Try the same.
Another, last-ditch solution in the battle for vegetables is to just cover it in cheese. I have a favorite roasted broccoli recipe I got from Corinne Cook that calls for a sprinkle of Parmesan at the end. A sprinkle.
John made it one time and it was a Parmesan blizzard with the occasional green fleck. They were excellent Parmesan party crackers that tasted vaguely of broccoli.
When cheese won’t work, bacon will. Covering cabbage, greens or squash, foods unfriendly to cheese, in bacon, sausage or some other cured pork usually results in a clean plate.
I call cheese or bacon the nuclear solution, though. The point is to get reluctant veggie eaters to appreciate the food on its own, accented by a few choice flavors that complement the natural taste. But you can only push so far.
When I served this broccoli-cheese soup, Ainsley dubbed it Trees ’n’ Cheese — and asked for seconds. Vegetables in stomachs.
I’ll call that a win.
Beth Colvin is The Advocate’s assistant Food editor. She can be reached at email@example.com.