“You gotta eat your spinach, baaaaby.” I grew up watching a young Shirley Temple singing about not wanting to eat spinach in the movie Poor Little Rich Girl. Her sentiment that spinach was that “awful greenery” represents an attitude towards vegetables that many take into adulthood.
That’s too bad because not only are vegetables good for you, but they are really delicious and flavorful. We don’t get to eat often at an expensive restaurant, but when we have had the opportunity it is striking how often vegetables play an important role in the dishes. That’s because chefs know that vegetables can play a key part in making your taste buds sing.
Now obviously making 4-star restaurant food is a gloriously yummy undertaking, but perhaps not practical for our everyday meals. But there are delicious ways to easily prepare vegetables for the daily meals that will help you get those vegetables into your routine.
Let me give just a few suggestions to get you started. I’d also love to hear from you. Tell me about your favorite method for preparing vegetables!
Roasting: Taming with Heat
One of my favorite ways to prepare vegetables is roasting them. Roasting them makes them sweet, tender, and delicious. I will generally roast them about 400-425 for about 15 minutes. Toss them with a little heat safe oil (like avocado or coconut) sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir about half way through. Yum! This method is delicious with asparagus, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes (cut in half) and so many other vegetables as well! Roast until the vegetable edges are starting to brown and the vegetable is tender.
- Roasted Asparagus and mushrooms with a Lemon Butter Sauce
- Garlic and Rosemary Roasted Root Vegetables
- Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds
- Roasted Garlic Spears
- Roasted Cauliflower
- A Roasted Vegetable and Meat Dinner
Braising: Slow and Steady
Braising is delicious because it also sweetens and adds a whole new layer of depth of flavor. This method cooks vegetables slow and long and yields a very flavorful vegetable. The best example I know of this method is this recipe for The Best Braised Cabbage. Make this on a day when you will be home for a couple of hours before dinner. It’s not hard to make but does take time. You can also do a long stove-top braise, such as the following recipe:
Grandpa’s Green Beans
Simple Vegetable Sautes
It really doesn’t have to be complicated! Some of our favorite vegetable dishes are simple vegetable sautés. Take a look at the vegetable below. We combine Brussels sprouts with bacon, carrots with butter, cabbage with apples, and zucchini with onions for delicious results.
- Easy Pan-Fried Cabbage and Apples
- Zucchini and Onion Saute
- Pan fried Buttery Carrots
- Sauteed Brussels Sprout with Bacon
Easy Skillet Dinners
I’ve sung the praises of skillet dinners recently, and I think they deserve that praise. When you cook meat and a variety of vegetables together, they flavor each other in a lovely way. It makes a great one pan meal, or serve it over rice, quinoa, make them into taco/burrito stuffings, or top baked sweet or white potatoes! Really, the method is so simple you can make them without a recipe, but to get you started check out the following two recipes:
Steaming with Skill
Why do we hate steamed vegetable so much? Often they were frozen vegetables (which tend to be much less flavorful), and they are also usually overcooked. It’s vital when steaming vegetables that you cook them until just tender. Overcook, and they will be tasteless. Do a quick Google search for how long to steam whatever vegetable you are serving that night. To serve, we like to add small pats of butter and squeeze fresh lemon juice over it, with a generous sprinkle of unrefined salt. Yum!
Other Ways to Enjoy Vegetables
- I feel like eating a large main dish salad for lunch helps me have more energy for the afternoon. You can check out some of my recipes for homemade salad dressings and salads here. I wrote a whole cookbook on salads too!
- Soups are a wonderful way to enjoy vegetables. In my soup cookbook, Ladled: Nourishing Soups for all Seasons, I have a whole section on creamy vegetable soups, but the majority of the soups have several vegetables in every soup.
- Don’t forget that you can add lots of root vegetables to braising meats (such as pot roast), add shredded or diced vegetables to pasta sauces, or combine a panful of sauteed vegetables with pasta and a light sauce.
- Finally, I like to add a couple of handfuls of baby greens to my smoothies. It’s an easy way to get more greens into your diet.
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I’m so excited about this! Just made my sweet potato pie with a mix of acorn squash and sweet potato (trying to sneak in new vegetables for the kids). Also planning a skillet dinner involving quinoa, bacon and spinach and a Greek salad on the side with radishes. Thanks for all the inspiring tips!