When it comes to looks, most winter vegetables have to be classified as losers. Pretty they aren't. Nor, for the most part, are they subtle in flavor. But their wonderful, gutsy flavors and aromas make these sturdy standbys perfect for the hearty dishes that are so much a part of dining this time of year. Most so-called winter vegetables are root vegetables, although a few, such as kohlrabi, grow above ground. Unfortunately, many cooks avoid these vegetables because they find the cooking aromas forbidding. When properly treated, however, these vegetables will mellow into a tantalizing accompaniment to a compatible meat dish. They can also be combined with other vegetables in their class to make robust meatless main dishes that will satisfy the hungriest diner. The following recipes show how some of these not-so-subtle vegetables can be turned into delightful, delicious table fare.
3 tablespoons butter or margarine12 to 14 leeks (white part only), sliced thin1 tablespoon flour 3/4 cup beef consommeSalt, pepper4 eggs, separated Melt butter in saucepan and add leeks. Simmer gently until golden but not brown. Stir in flour and cook 1 or 2 minutes. Pour in consomme and stir until thick. Season with salt and pepper. Cool sauce to lukewarm, then gradually stir into lightly beaten egg yolks.
Fold in stiffly beaten but not dry egg whites. Pour batter into buttered souffle dish and bake at 400 degrees 25 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown and done. Serve at once. Makes 4 servings.
GRATIN OF TURNIPS
1 clove garlic, mincedButter or margarine 1/2 cup minced leeks 1/2 pound turnips, peeled and thinly sliced or cut julienne 1/2 pound rutabagas, peeled and thinly sliced or cut julienne2 tablespoons chopped parsley1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper3 eggs1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened1 cup half and half Saute garlic in cup butter in skillet until golden. Add leeks, turnips and rutabagas. Saute until tender-crisp, about 15 minutes. Stir in parsley, salt and lemon pepper. Beat eggs in bowl, then beat in cream cheese until smooth. Add half and half and vegetables. Divide among 4 individual baking dishes. Dot with about 1/2 teaspoon butter each. Bake at 375 degrees 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Garnish with sprigs of parsley, if desired. Makes 4 servings.
PICKLED BEET BOATS
6 to 8 beets cup vinegar cup oil 1/2 teaspoon salt1 teaspoon sugar1 tablespoon horseradish Cook beets in boiling water until tender crisp. Remove with slotted spoon and slip off skins. Scoop out centers and reserve for other use. Combine vinegar, oil, salt, sugar and horseradish and marinate beet boats in mixture, covered in refrigerator, 4 to 5 hours or overnight. To serve, drain and fill with diced, fresh-cooked vegetables, egg salad or tuna. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
1 onion, diced3 tablespoons butter or margarine4 medium potatoes, cooked3 medium beets, cooked1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef2 egg yolks 1/2 cup milk2 tablespoons prepared steak sauceSalt Cook onion in 1 tablespoon butter until tender. Set aside. Dice potatoes and beets. Mix beef, egg yolks and onion with milk. Add potatoes and beets and steak sauce. Season to taste with salt. Shape into 6 patties. Cook patties in remaining 2 tablespoons butter until browned on both sides and cooked through, turning frequently. Makes 6 servings.
2 cups chopped peeled white potatoes1 1/2 cups sliced peeled carrots3 leeks (white part only), sliced5 cups chicken broth1 teaspoon saltDash white pepper1 cup half and halfSour creamChopped chives Combine potatoes, carrots, leeks and broth in large saucepan. Bring to boil, then simmer, uncovered, 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Puree vegetables and liquid, half at a time, in blender. Empty into mixing bowl. Stir in salt, pepper and half and half. Chill well. Serve in cups or mugs, garnished with dollop of sour cream and sprinkling of chopped chives. Makes 6 servings.
JULIENNE OF VEGETABLES
1 large turnip, peeled1 rutabaga, peeled2 carrots, peeled2 leeks, cleaned, white part with 1 inch greenPepperSlice turnip, rutabaga and carrots into fine julienne, thinner than a match stick. Slice leeks, cutting same size as other vegetables. Plunge all vegetables into boiling water 2 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water. Dry on paper towels. Season to taste with pepper. Serve with chicken. Makes 4 servings.