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:
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.