We’re always trying to eat more vegetables. Packed with nutrients, nourishing for both mind and body, mood-boosting, and vibrant, there are a million reasons that make vegetables vital to our daily diet.
If only they tasted better, right?
If you’ve ever found yourself longing to consume more veggies but struggling with some of their…earthier flavors, these tips and tricks are for you. Wave goodbye to soggy, bland and boring vegetables and say hello to side dishes that steal the show.
From cooking methods to temperature to the perfect herbs and spices, here is everything you need to know in order to make your best veggies ever.
When in doubt, apply high heat.
There will always be a time for raw, steamed and braised vegetables. But, by far our favorite way to get our eight servings a day is by enjoying crispy, crunchy, roasty toasty veggies.
And while the concept of roasting all kinds of vegetables, from brussels sprouts to cauliflower, carrots to potatoes, isn’t exactly new, changing up the ways in which you do so can make it feel so. We recommend using a higher oven temperature, between 400 and 450 degrees, and potentially even a longer-than-you-think cooking time.
A good rule of thumb is to set a timer for 15 minutes, check to see how things are going, giving your roasting pan a good shake, and resetting the timer for another 10 minutes. Veggies can more than take the heat, and they very much benefit from their time crisping up in a hot oven. Even slightly charred vegetables can be absolutely stellar.
Experiment with different fats.
Ever wonder why restaurant veggies taste so good? It’s because, more often than not, they are cooked in butter instead of oil. As much as we would love to cook everything in butter, that’s just not a realistic way to enjoy food each and every day.
That said, if you are struggling to make veggies that sing, you may want to take a look at the fat you are using. Olive oil is extremely popular, and for good reason, but it has a lower smoke point than other fats. This means that it will burn faster than other oils, and food cooked in it will not be as crispy. One of our favorite olive oils is from Pineapple Collaborative- The Olive Oil. (The Olive Oil is crafted in collaboration with Kathryn Tomajan using organic Arbequina olives grown by the Ricchiuti family at ENZO Olive Oil Company.)
If crunch is important to you, try out some different fats for cooking veggies. Avocado oil is a great option, packed with many of the same nutritional benefits as olive oil but with a higher smoke point. Sesame oil adds incredible flavor, while safflower oil, a neutral oil, adds very little.
Zest things up with herbs and spices.
Salt and pepper will always be great flavor tools. But truly amazing veggies go beyond just the basics.
The addition of herbs and spices is our favorite hack for dressing up vegetables. It’s amazing just how much a sprig of rosemary, some chopped-up chives, or a few leaves of mint can transform ordinary dishes into culinary masterpieces. Experiment with using fresh, homegrown herbs, both in the oven and as a finishing touch (more on that later).
The spice cabinet is also a cook’s friend. We love dashing paprika, turmeric, cumin, and cayenne onto our veggies, both enhancing and complementing their natural flavors. More uncommon spices such as zaatar, gochugaru, and porcini mushroom powder can also make even the most boring vegetable a delight.
Acid brings the heat.
If you want extraordinary, you’ve got to have acid. And, lucky for you, there are so many acids out there that will take your vegetables all the way to the top.
Adding acidity can be as simple as grating lemon peel onto your roasting pan or squeezing some juice over it fresh out of the oven. But if you want to go beyond, break out the vinegar and start experimenting. Veggies coated in balsamic magically become sweet and sticky in the oven, while white vinegar can help soften and spruce up the flavor (and the flesh!) of heartier plants such as beets.
Always, always garnish.
Garnishing a plate may be a special touch, but garnishing your vegetables is a necessity. Right before serving, sprinkle over fresh herbs (we love mint, chives, parsley, and oregano), add a splash of your nicest oil (olive and sesame bring lots of flavor), and sprinkle over a pinch of your flakiest sea salt to round things out. This tiny extra step is the difference between mediocre vegetables and ones that will keep you coming back for more.
What is your favorite way to enjoy your veggies?