Dress Up Your Veggies

Ten Ways to Dress Up Your Veggies

Written on Apr 6, 2011 by Lia Huber
Veggies are awesome. I am forever enamored with how many flavors and textures and colors there are to play with. And the fact that the palette changes each season makes me feel like a wide-eyed kid playing nature’s version of Iron Chef.
But I can get in a rut with veggies too. I love the uber-simple Alberto’s Grilled Marinated Asparagus so much, for instance, that I make it over and over and over again. But then, that’s not very fun.
So I developed a little arsenal of ways to dress up any vegetable. Use these like shadows and highlights on your ever-changing palette of veggies to add a bit … more to something that’s already quite lovely. and by all means, mix and match at will.
  • Toasted Nuts – Nuts have a lot of things going for them. Their (healthy) fat adds a touch of richness, they have an incredible range of flavor, and then … there’s that crunch. I like to chop or slice them rather than using whole nuts, both because I like the texture better and because it makes a little go a looong way.
  • Cheeses – Gone (I hope) are the days when vegetables had to be covered in a gooey blanket of cheese to be appealing; fresh seasonal veggies from a CSA, farmers market or garden are way too interesting to be covered up like that. But a tiny bit of flavorful, pungent cheese—shredded, shaved or crumbled—is a wonderful addition to almost any veggie.
  • Brown Butter – Try these Sautéed Radishes with Mint to see the effect brown butter has on veggies. Just a tad adds luxurious texture and deep, nutty, lip-smacking flavor.
  • Vinegar – Not all flavor additions have to do with fat. Vinegar—and vinaigrettes—brightens veggies even out of the salad bowl; try our Roasted Beet Wedges with Champagne Vinegar to see how. I also like tossing our Mustard-Shallot Vinaigrette with grilled or roasted veggies.
  • Spices – Simply adding a new spice to a basic dish elevates it to a whole new level. I make roasted broccoli all the time, for instance. Then I pushed the envelope and came up with Roasted Broccoli with Garlic Chips and Spanish Paprika.
  • Citrus Zest – Citrus zest packs a surprisingly bright, tangy wallop. A little run of a lemon, lime or orange over a Microplane zester does wonders, especially on richer items like asparagus and potatoes.
  • Soy Sauce and Miso Paste – Both soy sauce and miso paste are umami enhancers, which means they add that voluptuous mouthfeel to the foods they’re added to. This is especially helpful for vegetables which, for the most part (the big exception being mushrooms), are low on the umami scale.
  • Grated Aromatics – I like grating things like garlic, ginger and shallot onto veggies; I find the effect more pungent than simply sautéing them with minced or chopped aromatics. Do beware though: they can burn super-quickly. It’s best to add them in closer to the end of cooking, as I did with our Swiss Chard with Grated Garlic.
  • Honey – Honey truly gilds the lily when it comes to vegetables that have an inherent sweetness to them—like carrots (try our Honey-Ginger Roasted Carrots and you’ll see what I mean). Use it, too, as a semi-sweet counterpoint to salty and sour components like soy sauce and vinegar.
There are my ten … have any you’d like to share?
Categories : Featured, Sound Nutrition

Roasted Asparagus with Miso, Honey and Lime Zest

I deliberately left this dressing super light so that nothing, with the exception of the cayenne, would tug your tastebuds too far away from the asparagus itself. The result is bright and zingy; it also pops asparagus out of the Mediterranean profile so you can serve it with Asian-leaning dishes. If you can get your hands on an unfiltered peanut oil, like Spectrum Organic’s, you’ll gain even more flavor.
1 bunch asparagus (I like fatter ones for this recipe), snapped where the stem naturally breaks
2 teaspoons coconut oil
fine sea salt
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon white miso
1 tablespoon lime juice (about half a lime)
1/2 teaspoon lime zest (also about half a lime)
dash of cayenne
coarse sea salt (like Maldon)
Preheat oven to 450. Toss asparagus with oil and a small pinch of salt and roast for 8-12 minutes, turning occasionally, until just tender. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes.
While asparagus is cooking, whisk together honey, miso, lime juice and lime zest. Add mixture to the asparagus and toss well to coat. Transfer asparagus to a serving plate and finish with a dash of cayenne and a sprinkle of Maldon.

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