VEGETABLES FOR BREAKFAST: Sauted Herb Flavor Cubes

Why vegetables for breakfast?

Just about everyone in the field of nutrition and cancer today agrees that the anticancer diet is composed primarily of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains. Specifically, we’re told that we should have 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (and, I would add that at least five of those servings should be veggies). What I’ve found is that if I don’t have veggies at breakfast, it’s hard to have had five servings of vegetables in a day. But if I have some veggies for breakfast, it’s easy to have five or even six servings of veggies a day. And…furthermore, if veggies are good for you, it just makes sense that it’s good to give your body a veggie “infusion” all through the day – not just at dinner.

With a little pre-planning, having veggies for breakfast is easy – and delicious!

SAUTED HERB FLAVOR CUBES

I got the idea for this recipe from the Persian (Iranian) Kookoo Sabzi, a wonderful egg and herb omelet. While my recipe doesn’t contain eggs, it goes very well with eggs…and that’s the idea.

Ingredients

1 bunch green onions (scallions)

1/2  bunch fresh dill

1 bunch fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley

½ bunch fresh cilantro

1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, optional

  • I have found that adding 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric (a potent anticancer spice) to this herb mixture doesn’t change the flavor, so I like to add the turmeric.

About 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black or white pepper, to taste

Food prep tips for food safety

Here’s how to get rid of the visible dirt and the invisible bacteria that’s in the dirt, including E. coli:

  • Use two cutting boards — one for cutting the unwashed herbs and the other for slicing and chopping the rinsed herbs.
  • Use two knives (chef’s knives work best) — one for cutting the unwashed herbs and the other for slicing and cutting the rinsed herbs — or just rinse your knife after you cut the unwashed herbs.
  • Green onion – steps to cleaning properly
  1. Trim off the root end of each green onion.
  2. Cut the green onion in two, separating the green and white parts.
  3. Thinly slice the green part of the green onion on the diagonal so as to expose as much surface area as reasonably possible. You will see dirt you never knew was there!
  4. Place the sliced green onion into a large strainer with small holes (a metal mesh one works well) and place the strainer inside the basket of a salad spinner.
  5. Now you are ready to give your green onions a good rinse. Here’s how: Fill the salad spinner up with cold tap water and using your hands agitate the herbs in the water. Then lift out the mesh strainer with the herbs in it and pour the dirty water out of the salad spinner.
  6. Rinse one or two more times and pour off the dirty water after each rinse.
  7. Place the lid on the salad spinner and spin dry the herbs in the mesh strainer. Note: Since a metal strainer is slightly heavy, you have to be careful when you spin the salad spinner or it will go out of control. To avoid having to be careful, I simply do the spinning in the corner of the sink (using the two sides of the sink to help keep the basket in place).
  8. Now you have very clean and decently dried off sliced green onions!
  9. Slice the white part of the green onion thinly, but not on a diagonal; it’s not necessary. Place the sliced white part into the mesh strainer inside the basket of the salad spinner, and spin dry.
  • Bunches of Herbs — dill, parsley and cilantro
  1. With the herbs still tied together in a bunch, use your knife to cut off the thick stems — all in one cut.
  2. Set the stems aside for another use such as making soup stock.
  3. Untie the herbs and place them into the plastic strainer basket inside the salad spinner.  Rinse and dry the herbs as explained above.
  4. Chop the clean herbs.

Directions

Thinly slice the white and green parts of the green onion, keeping the white and green parts separate; set aside.

Chop the dill, including the tender stems; set aside.

Chop the parsley, including the tender stems; set aside.

Chop the cilantro, including the tender stems; set aside

  • Place the less tender stems from the dill, parsley and cilantro in a plastic bag (the kind for the freezer) and freeze. Later you can use these stems and other vegetables when making a veggie soup stock.

Use a large heavy-bottomed sauté pan and cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of olive oil. Heat the oil over medium heat (or just a little hotter) and when the oil is hot add the white parts of the green onion and sauté until softened. Then add the green parts of the green onion and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the turmeric, if using, and mix it in. Then add all of the chopped herbs and sauté for about a minute or two. When the herbs are gently wilted but still nice and green, remove the pan from the heat.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Let this herb mixture cool and then scoop it up by the spoonful (an ice cream scoop or a cookie dough scoop works well) and put it into a silicon mini muffin pan (or an ice cube tray). Note: Press down on the herb mixture to compact it.

Freeze your green muffins (flavor “cubes”) until hard.

Remove the muffin pan from the freezer and let it warm up for a minute or so at room temperature. Then just pop your Sauted Herb Flavor Cubes out of the muffin pan and place them into a plastic bag suitable for the freezer. Keep frozen until ready to use. Then just take out one, two or more cubes and heat them in the microwave until defrosted and just hot enough to serve.

Many ways to use Sauted Herb Flavor Cubes

  • Spread on toasted bread, including sourdough bread;
  • Serve with scrambled eggs, egg whites or sauted tofu for great flavor and color.
  • Mix with Sun-Dried Tomato Flavor Cubes and spread on toast or serve with eggs as suggested above;
  • Mix into hummus or any bean spread/dip;
  • Mix with a little goat cheese and spread on crackers or stuff into hollowed out cherry tomatoes;
  • Garnish a butternut squash soup with these sauted herbs;
  • Mix with green beans or peas for a gourmet touch.

Enjoy and be healthy,

~Leni

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