WND – Jedi Mind Trick

March 4, 2010

I firmly believe that there should be a vegetable on the table at all meals. I don’t think it count unless it’s a green vegetable – or tomatoes, because tomatoes are totally a vegetable in my book. But, when it comes to eating them I tend to smother them with something else that’s on the plate to mask the taste – the sauce that came with the meat, or a forkful of mashed potatoes. I know I’m supposed to like my vegetables, and I’ve never served a meal that didn’t include a green vegetable (unless I’m cooking on a weekend and have run out of salad, in which case it’s possible that I’ll count tomato sauce as a vegetable). I just wish I liked them more, but honestly just not so much.

Part of it is that there are only so many vegetables out there, and there are only so many ways you can cook a vegetable and still have it feel like it’s a healthy part of your meal. I mean, I could smother pretty much any vegetable in cheese sauce and throw it under the broiler until it’s toasty and browned, and under those circumstances I’d probably find even broccoli tasty. However, quite apart from the fact that my roommate would be horrified, I’d have a hard time counting it as a vegetable. Ditto for creamed anything. If you’ve added several cups of cheese or cream to something, I have issues calling it nutritious.

I feel like there must be other vegetables out there that I’m missing. I mean, it can’t just be leafy greens, broccoli, green beans and seasonally asparagus. Can it? I mean love dark leafy greens, but there are only so many times that even I can eat them in any given week. In the end I wind up eating a lot of vegetables that I don’t really like, because they’re there, and they’re easy to make and everyone else likes them; like broccoli and green beans. I actually don’t mind green beans, but I do occasionally suffer traumatic flashbacks to high school when my mother had an unhealthy obsession with tiny perfect haricots-verts and served then an average of four times a week.

There are a few vegetables, like beets, about which I have no particular firm opinion. I don’t hate them, but they’re not exactly inspiring me to sing arias either. I make them occasionally because my roommate really likes them and I find them mostly inoffensive and they’re admittedly very colorful on a plate (although like cauliflower I’m always unclear as to whether they’re really a vegetable or some other undefined part of the meal). I make exceptions for anything that combines beets and goat cheese, but I think that really has more to do with the goat cheese than the beets.

Then there are the vegetables, like Brussel sprouts that I make because while I have actively disliked them in the past I periodically wonder whether I’ve matured enough for my opinion on to have changed. So far I have yet to achieve the wisdom necessary to appreciate a Brussel sprout unless it’s been seared in bacon fat and then braised with figs, and at that point I’m not sure you can call it a vegetable anymore. On the upside it doesn’t taste like Brussel sprouts, and on the downside I think that just means I like bacon and figs which I already knew.

This is also true of cooked carrots. I like carrots raw. I think they’re a super tasty snack, and I always include them on a vegetable platter. But in soups and stews they tend to get mushy, and are one of the key reasons I don’t like most chicken noodle soup. They also occupy a strange liminal space between sweet and not-sweet and I just can’t quite wrap my head around how I’m supposed to react to them. My roommate on the other hand really likes roasted carrots. Mind you, she also likes beets and Brussel sprouts, so clearly there’s something wrong with the girl. Nonetheless, because I aspire to being a reasonable person and growing as an individual and there are all these recipes on epicurious for roasted carrots I thought I’d see if I could figure out what everyone else seems to see in them.

The final verdict is that I think they fall under the same heading as beets. I don’t mind them, but they’re not my favorite thing ever either. Roasted is, however, a much better way to go than boiled in soup/stew. Dinner liked them, with caveats for maybe slightly less roasted next time, and maybe not with cumin (which is fine, there are about 200 other roasted carrot recipes on epicurious for the next time I’m feeling altruistic, and/or bored of my vegetable selection). Plus, and I think I’m counting this as a personal triumph, the person who liked them most was the person who hated all cooked orange vegetables when I first met her. So far she’s come around on most iterations of sweet potatoes, some variations of butternut squash and the occasional savory pumpkin recipe, and now carrots. Next stop, world domination.

Chicken Tagine with Apricots & Spiced Pine Nuts
Caramelized Cumin Roasted Carrots
Green Beans

Chicken Tagine with Apricots & Spiced Pine Nuts

In my house employing the Jedi mind trick usually involves stretching for something that’s just out of reach (or sometimes on the other side of the room – it depends on how strongly you’re feeling the Force), looking deeply pathetic when you can’t reach it, and hoping that someone else in the room will take pity on you and get it for you. Your chances of success depend mostly on whether you’re (a) sick, (b) have the cat curled up in your lap, (c) the other person is getting up anyway, or (d) all of the above.

In terms of Dinner the Jedi mind trick is really all about mentioning in as non-subtle a manner as possible that there’s this thing that you wouldn’t mind having for dinner soon. Assuming you’ve brought your sledgehammer with you to make your point, there’s a 99.9% chance that I’ll make whatever it is within the next two weeks. I like being told what to make; it means I don’t have to think about it.

Recipe previously given: Revenge of the Florets

Caramelized Cumin Roasted Carrots
(serves 6)

12 medium to large carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal into ½” thick pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400, and lightly coat a baking sheet with vegetable oil.

Mix carrots with cumin seeds, olive oil and salt and toss to coat. Spread in a single layer on baking sheet. Roast until lightly caramelized, about 35-40 minutes, turning once.



  1. There’s never a bad time for bacon. This includes vegetable time.

  2. […] note that the recipe calls for carrots in the stew and if you’ve been paying attention you’ll know how much I loathe mushy carrots in soups and stews.  I haven’t changed my mind […]

  3. […] the recipe and used 2 cups butternut squash and 1 cup carrots. This is not specifically because I dislike cooked carrots, although I do. This is mostly because I had 2 cups of diced butternut squash leftover from a dinner last week […]

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