Vegetable Revelation…

I had a revelation about vegetables yesterday.  I actually woke up in the middle of the night, thinking about vegetables.  And my revelation.  Yeah, I know.  Sad but true.  And here’s why.

I met with a client yesterday who has a number of random allergies.  Tomatoes.  Nutmeg.  Garlic.  Lime.  And more than a few others.  Her dilemma was that she was having trouble pairing side dishes, especially vegetables, with her entrees.  And here’s where I had my revelation: my personal preference for most vegetables side dishes is to keep them simple.  If they’re really fresh, then just steam them and let the flavor come through.  Maybe a sauté every now and then.  But I like my vegetables to be prepared simply.  My client?  She’s not a fan of vegetables, and wants new and better ways to prepare them.  LAST on her list is steaming them.  Okay, Chef Bill, now what?!!!

So I came up with four simple methods for her to prepare her vegetables.  This will add variety for her, and keep her interest going for a balanced diet.  Here they are:

  1. Steam the veggies.  But add some nuts and cheese.  But not so much that they’ll take over the dish.  If it’s broccoli for two, add a tablespoon of pine nuts, and a tablespoon of pulverized feta cheese.  Or sprinkle on some parmesan.  Or maybe some walnuts and crumbled bleu cheese on your green beans.  The sky (and your fridge) is the limit!
  2. Sautee the veggies.  Start with sautéing some onions and peppers for 10-15 minutes.  Then add another vegetable or two to finish the dish.  Try green beans, asparagus, summer squash or zucchini.  Or corn and edamame.  Here’s the hint: sautéed onions and peppers improve everything!  And don’t forget to throw in some garlic, too.
  3. Roast the veggies.  Try combinations of root vegetables, or maybe some cauliflower and portabella mushrooms.  Or maybe eggplant with peppers and onions.  The roasting will bring out the flavors.  And they’ll look cool on the plate. Plus, you can make them ahead and easily reheat them.
  4. Herbs and spices.  Consider adding other flavors to the veggies.  Having Tex-Mex for dinner?  Sprinkle on some cumin, or a hint of chili powder.  Lamb for dinner?  Add fresh or dried rosemary to the veg when they’re roasting.  Are you making crab cakes?  Nothing like a few shakes of Old Bay Seasoning to bring out your inner Chesapeake cook.

So, the short version of this revelation?  Despite what your mother told you, play with your vegetables, and you’ll get the flavors you want.   It’ll definitely add a new dimension to your dinner.

Roasted Cauliflower, Portabella Mushrooms, and More!

1 cauliflower, cut into florets

2 portabella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

2 red peppers, cored and sliced

1 yellow pepper, cored and sliced

1 onion, peeled and quartered

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/ teaspoon pepper

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Place all of the vegetables on a half-sheet pan with sides (approx 12” x 18”).  Combine with the olive oil, and sprinkle on the salt and pepper.

Roast in the oven for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked to your liking.

BIG NOTE: every 10 minutes, turn over the vegetables to keep them from burning.

 

Serves 4-6 as a side dish

Roasted Eggplant, Peppers, and Onions

1 eggplant, peeled, halved, and sliced

2 red peppers, cut into thick strips

1 yellow pepper, cut into thick strips

1 onions, sliced

1/4 cup (!!) olive oil

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place and combine everything on a sheet pan. Bake 30+ minutes, or until everything is cooked through.  every 10 minutes, turn over the vegetables to keep them from burning.

Note:  if the eggplant isn’t very fresh, or recently picked, then place the peeled, halved, and sliced eggplant in a colander.  Sprinkle it with salt, and let it sit for up to an hour.  This will help keep the eggplant from having a bitter taste.

Roasted Root Vegetables

4 red bliss (or other type) potatoes

1 large yam, peeled

2 carrots, peeled

2 medium onions, peeled  and quartered

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon dried thyme (optional)

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°

  1. Cut the potatoes, carrots, and yam into bite-sized pieces.  Spread onto a sheet pan, with the quartered onion.
  2. Add olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper, and mix well with the vegetables.
  3. Roast for approximately 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through, and browned.

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  • Every 10-12 minutes, turn the vegetables over to prevent them from sticking to the pan.
  • Leave the onions quartered; don’t try to break them up, as they’ll do that anyway as they cook.