Submitted by Melissa Reynen, Marketing Manager
If asked, few people might say turnips were on their Top 10 list, but mash them like potatoes with butter and milk, and what guest would turn them down? And many shy away from other lesser-known vegetables for fear of the unknown or lack of cooking knowledge, but chefs — especially lovers of local and seasonal — live for showing off many underserved vegetables and highlighting their best qualities. At an early summer Food for Your Well-Being event at Santa Clara University’s Adobe Lodge, Chef/Manager Tiana Driggins focused on this very subject via a cooking class for faculty, staff, and friends about cooking with a selection of more unusual vegetables, including fennel, parsnips, and Romanesco.
She started the evening off with a fun guessing game to test the knowledge of the audience and the vegetables they recognized by sight. It was a great way for participants to learn about the variety of vegetable options available in the stores that people often pass up.
Tiana and Sous Chef Ray Volis then prepared delicious dishes such as rhubarb, goat cheese, and toasted hazelnut salad; roasted spaghetti squash with melted leeks; and quinoa-stuffed acorn squash. With each preparation, she expanded the traditional thoughts on vegetables and provided great flavors to complement each one. Wine was served, and the guests chatted with Tiana as she broke down techniques and shared her secret to the perfect broiled cauliflower and the caramelizing process. Guests left the evening with a new repertoire of recipes and vegetables that otherwise would have remained perplexing or overlooked.