If we grew up eating boring steamed or boiled veggies cooked to smithereens, we can hardly be blamed for not always wanting to make vegetables a major part of our meals. But the truth of the matter is, adequate vegetable intake is necessary for a truly healthy diet.
So how do we ditch those green-gray Brussels sprouts of yore for flavorful, lip-smacking gourmet fare?
Tips to perk up any vegetable
- Roast it: Roasting veggies brings out their sweetness, allowing them to brown and caramelize. GoodHouskeeping.com offers this roasting chart to guide you in the best roasting temps and times.
- Sauté it: Veggies that aren’t tough (think zucchini, asparagus, or eggplant) can be delicious sautéed. Take a look at some basic sauté tips from Cooking Light, like: Give those guys some room in the pan and don’t pass on the cooking fat.
- Season it: Don’t skimp on your basic salt and pepper, and other flavors like garlic, lemon and rosemary. Getting creative with spices keeps your taste buds from getting bored and highlights the nuanced flavors of each vegetable. Other things to throw in: crumble some feta or goat cheese or toss with toasted nuts.
Vegetables that deserve to be savored, not feared
- Brussels sprouts: Roasted Brussels sprouts, sprinkled with sea salt and pepper can taste crisp, sweet, and mustardy all at the same time. Undercooking can yield them too bitter, overcooking can turn them into balls of mush. Roast until they’re tender inside and browned on the outer edges. Then drizzle with this easy balsamic vinegar reduction.
- Spaghetti squash: Spaghetti squash is a magical vegetable. Once cooked, scrape the inside with a fork and you have strands of veggie spaghetti. Toss with pesto or use as a base for a healthy meatsauce.
- Beets: Never fear beets. They’re sweet, juicy, and go well with just about anything. You can roast them in individual foil packets (the skin falls off after roasting), or you can buy them already cooked and peeled. Toss with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and some walnuts or pecans. Such a refreshing change from the usual salad or veggie side.
- Cabbage: Cabbage is so versatile. Like spaghetti squash, it can be used as a base for a number of sauces or stir-fries. Throw a shredded head of cabbage into a crockpot with some sliced apples and onions and a kielbasa sausage on top. Cook on low for 8 hours and out comes a delicious and cheap, fiber-rich meal! Or use this technique from Mark Bittman: boil cabbage leaves in salted water, then toss in butter (don’t forget your salt and pepper!)
- Spinach: Spinach is packed with iron and vitamins, but nothing says dinner punishment like a pile of globby green stuff with no flavor. Try sautéing fresh spinach with garlic and lemon until just wilted. Or throw in some feta cheese for a little sharp and creamy flavor and pine nuts for a hearty crunch.