The Edgy Veggie

Holidays are a good time to put a new spin on old vegetables

Shaved and sliced raw beets, brussels sprouts and cauliflower.
Shaved and sliced raw beets, brussels sprouts and cauliflower. For the Miami Herald

Family tradition is a Thanksgiving obsession: The same seasonal vegetables that were on your granny’s Thanksgiving table — cauliflower, root vegetables and brussels sprouts — need to be on yours, too, else you risk mutiny.

That said, these traditional vegetables no longer need to be steamed and subdued or buried under a salty “sauce” of canned condensed soup. Rock them out. Serve them raw.

Forget the hard, tasteless (and uneaten) crudite chunks of old. We’re talking cauliflower blitzed into fluffy mounds of couscous-like pearls, sprouts shaved into slaw, beets shredded into bright confetti.

It’s all possible with a mandolin or sharp chef’s knife, but you can’t beat your friendly food processor for precision and speed. Use the S-blade for the cauliflower, slicing blade for the sprouts and shredding blade for the beets. You’ll whiz through a vegetable harvest faster than you can order pizza.

Does raw seem too rad for you? Give the sprouts and cauliflower a quick saute.

But, really, taste them raw first. Chopping, grating and shaving fresh, raw vegetables renders them easily digestible. The cauliflower and beets are moister and more tender than you’d imagine, the sprouts remain pleasingly crunchy but easier — and more fun — to eat.

Enjoying these vegetables raw ends one holiday tradition you won’t miss: the sulfuric whiff of overboiled sprouts or cauli, the smell that launched a generation or two of vegetable-haters. That raw or living foods are the most nutrient-rich is still open to debate. What isn’t: Raw can be a lifesaver at Thanksgiving, when time is short and you and your kitchen are in danger of overheating.

Process the vegetables ahead of time, store and refrigerate separately, then assemble and season just before serving. Step away from the canned soup. Instead, try a drizzle of olive or pumpkin seed oil, a healthy sprinkle of cumin or curry powder, fresh chopped rosemary or dill, a squeeze of lemon, a splash of soy, a dollop of Dijon or a thread of syrupy aged balsamic. Add olives or dried fruit, seeds or nuts.

Raw or cooked, cauliflower and brussels sprouts, your cruciferous vegetables, and beets, related to chard and quinoa, all have it going on in the antioxidant department.

Why shouldn’t the most nourishing thing on your Thanksgiving table be the easiest to make and an edible delight, too? It’s a tradition your granny would approve.

Ellen Kanner:, @edgyveggie1

Layered Thanksgiving Vegetables with Lemon-Maple Vinaigrette

Recipe by Ellen Kanner. Tasters polished off this entire substantial salad in one go. Layered in a clear bowl, it has wow for the eyes as well as the mouth. You can also toss it. Add the beet at the end to minimize beet bleed.

1 medium head cauliflower, chopped into florets

1 pound (about 2 dozen) brussels sprouts, trimmed

1 medium beet, peeled

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 sprig fresh thyme leaves (about 1/2 teaspoon), optional

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Use the S blade on your food processor to process the cauliflower Pulse briefly several times until cauliflower morphs into uniform bits resembling grain. Remove from processor bowl and set aside.

Use the slicing blade on your food processor to shave the brussels sprouts. Remove from the processor bowl and set aside.

Finally, using the shredding blade on your food processor, grate the beet. Remove from the bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup and Dijon for a minute or two, until creamy, golden and emulsified. Add optional thyme leaves.

Spoon cauliflower into a large crystal bowl. Sprinkle evenly with about a tablespoon of the lemon dressing. Top with a layer of shredded Brussels sprouts, then another tablespoon of dressing. Finish with the grated beet, a final drizzle of dressing and the cranberries and pepitas. Season with sea salt and ground pepper.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings