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Mar 25, 2010 08:37 AM

Favorite vegetable side dishes?

All -- I love to cook but I don't much care for vegetables. Unfortunately, this means that I rarely cook them (usually we have canned peas or corn with dinner -- I know, I know), and my daughter is starting to dislike them too. When I do cook vegetables, it's usually steamed broccoli or mashed potatoes. I bought a bunch of vegetable/vegetarian cookbooks (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, Vegetarian Classics, the Italian Vegetarian Cookbook) but they haven't inspired me. So, I am determined to try to find some interesting and tasty sides to help us incorporate more veggies into our rotation. We're not vegetarian (obviously) so I'm happy to explore dishes that include meat. I'd appreciate any recipe suggestions--thanks!

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  1. Roasted vegetables are great, cauliflower, broccoli, and any vegetables grilled are wonderful as well

    1 Reply
    1. re: roro1831

      +1 on this. I also make a dip that I love with broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. It's basically an aioli, and I first used it with pork but it's great with veggies:

      Lemony Mustard/Dill Sauce
      3 tblspn mayo
      2 tblspn dijon mustard
      2 tlbspn lemon juice
      1/2 tspon dill weed

      Blend well and adjust ingredients to taste.

    2. They key is not to cook them to death and drown them in butter. It's spring, so you're really lucky in terms of what you can get. Simple ways of preparing veggies are usually the best ways. My favorite veggie dishes come together quickly or cook in a snap so it's not a whole production to get vegetables on the table for dinner.

      Favorites- all are good as leftovers on a salad or mixed with quinoa/brown rice
      - sauteed snap peas with mint
      - sauteed spinach/garlic/soy sauce
      - roasted cauliflower and broccoli
      - grilled eggplant with pesto
      - roasted asparagus (great with some parmesan)
      - glazed carrots (super cheap and works great with carrots that have been hanging in the fridge)
      - stir fried cabbage
      - butternut squash mash
      - zucchini and tomato baked with garlic
      - baked breaded zucchini sticks
      - baked breaded eggplant (dangerous- I can eat a whole tray!)
      - roasted celery root (such an interesting flavor)
      - marinated chinese style celery
      - fresh corn on or off the cob roasted
      - brussel sprout hash
      - cauliflower salad (boiled and tossed while warm with lemon/oil/salt/allspice)
      - roasted beets with orange
      - roasted fennel and radishes (got my husband to eat it by telling him it was onion)
      - stir fried chinese greens with soy sauce- bok choy/napa
      - roasted wild mushroom (i'll never go back to sauteeing again!)

      7 Replies
      1. re: cheesecake17

        Cheesecake posted a great list. Here are some of my comments:
        - sauteed snap peas with mint/I liked to stir fry with a little oil and carrot shreds for color. If the snap peas need to be a little softer, I'll toss in maybe a T or so of water, put the cover on the pan for 30 seconds and that's enough.
        - sauteed spinach/garlic/soy sauce// I recently bought bunched spinach rather than bagged. My husband and I both liked it better. Young and fresher tasting.
        - roasted cauliflower and broccoli: Very yummy, I do a combination of cauliflower, turnip, parsnips and carrots
        - glazed carrots (super cheap and works great with carrots that have been hanging in the fridge)/ I tend to just boil carrots or shred them for a salad. I always have them in the frig.
        - butternut squash mash//We prefer the taste of butterCup squash, esp if it's a kabocha variety. For easy cooking (the butterCups are harder to peel) just microwave until soft. Scoop out the flesh and mash.
        - zucchini and tomato baked with garlic//we like zucchini in all forms although my husband prefers zucchini chocolate chip cookies
        - baked breaded zucchini sticks//a lot of work but delicious
        - fresh corn on or off the cob roasted//only if it comes from a local farm stand and then we eat it all season several times a week
        - cauliflower salad (boiled and tossed while warm with lemon/oil/salt/allspice)//our DIL's favorite salad is a raw broccoli salad with bacon bits, onion and dried cranberries plus a mayo dressing. Sounds awful but most people love it.
        - roasted beets with orange//canned beets are one of the few canned vegetables I use. Fresh beets are far better. Fresh beets greens in early summer!
        - stir fried chinese greens with soy sauce- bok choy/napa// we sort of like bok choy but recently discovered choy sum at the Asian market. We like it better than swiss chard but fresh swiss chard is nice too. I use a little oyster sauce with choy sum.
        - roasted wild mushroom (i'll never go back to sauteeing again!)//recently found shitake mushrooms are reasonably priced at the Asian market and they carry King mushrooms which I never see at our regular supermarket. Both are tasty mixed with other things. Most recently I made a recipe for buttercup squash and mushroom gratin with cheese.

        Right now we are having fresh parsnips from the garden. They might be an acquired taste. The ones at the supermarket aren't too bad just not as sweet.

        I have a stir fry recipe from Cooking Light that uses zucchini, carrots, etc. Once you find the right soy/oyster sauce blend for you, it makes a big difference. Shredded zucchini pancakes with green curry and peanut sauce is a tasty way of disguising zucchini. I would also suggest working on recipes that are heavy in vegetables and light on meat. Since we like Thai food, Massaman curry in the little cans plus a can of coconut milk is the base for a great sweet potato (or winter squash), onion and chicken meal.

        I think you should concentrate however on simple preparations and buying good quality vegetables. We rarely have white potatoes or pasta because I'm trying to stay away from too much starch/carbs.

        1. re: cheesecake17

          On the other hand, there are some vegetables that are really good when cooked to death and drowned in butter! I think one of Marcella Hazan's books (can't remember which one) has a short rant about how cooked veggies aren't supposed to be crunchy. I agree; I like raw stuff (carrot sticks, snap peas, sweet bell peppers, green salads, marinated grated radish or sliced cucumber) to be raw, and cooked stuff to be cooked.

          Well-cooked things I love: long-cooked green beans, collards braised with garlic until they relax, curried cauliflower cooked to melting tenderness, the cabbage with corned beef and cabbage, carrots, turnips and green peas in winter stew, mashed eggplant.

          The only thing I can think of that I like par-cooked is sweet corn. Oh yeah, and some sauteed greens need the middle ground. God, I love sauteed greens -- with olive oil and garlic, with soy, garlic, sugar and chinese fermented bean curd (a long-ago Jim Leff recommendation -- thanks Jim), in scrambled eggs with cheese. So many kinds of greens, all different, mostly awesome (no malabar spinach for me). And broccoli. And, and, and..

          Well, ok. Maybe the thing is ... don't rule out a preparation because of the cooking time!

          1. re: cheesecake17

            +1 on not overcooking. grilled, on bbq, tomatoes. grilled corn was excellent. leftovers cut off cob then in salad. been wanting to try mexican style with mayo and chili powder or grilled with teriaki basting. kebobs work well, too. tempura w/ sweet potato, eggplant, mushroom, onion, green beans, squash or pumpkin, peppers, broc

            1. re: cheesecake17

              cheesecake, how do you bake bread your zucchini and eggplant?

              1. re: lilmomma

                I dip rounds or planks in egg whites then in cornflake cumbs. Lay out on a greased cookie sheet (you don't want them to touch) and bake until cooked thru about 20 minutes. The veggies get crispier if you lightly spray the tops with Pam.

                I usually season both the egg whites and conflake crumb mixture.

                Also works with cauliflower and broccoli

                1. re: cheesecake17

                  cornmeal is also great if you don't have cornflakes on hand...and almond meal is a delicious alternative.

              2. re: cheesecake17

                Thx for posting this cheesecake. It really helps to get me thinking in a new direction from the old sauteed veggies - which is all I could ever seem to come up with.

              3. by far, my fav way to eat veggies besides raw in salads is roasted. Start with ones you sort of like - for ex. broccoli is fantastic roasted. cauliflour, red onions, asparagus, anything-everything - love roasted red, yellow peppers too - everything is soooo intensly sweet.. try it with just olive oil s&p but if you need to add anything, parmasan is a nice touch.

                I love to roast chopped potato, or qrtered lil red potatoes, then when toss - toss in some crumbled blue cheese and chopped chives.

                2 Replies
                1. re: lexpatti

                  I like veggies roasted in olive oil and salt and pepper at high (400F +) temperatures.

                  Favorites are brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus. Great with lemon juice, zest, parmesan & chilis or some combination there of.

                  I also have a great recipe for a gratin with spaghetti squash but I think the season for such things is just about over.

                  1. re: daily_unadventures

                    +1 on the spaghetti squash. I make a spaghetti squash casserole that is fabulous -- original Moosewood cookbook recipe, with ricotta, tomato, mushrooms, a few fresh herbs.

                2. I flat -out adore the Stir-Fried Roasted Eggplant recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. It is good as a pasta sauce, but usually I make nests in it, then fill them with egg and bake, or spread it on toast, top with cheese, and broil. I simplify the recipe by using Mr. Yoshida's cooking sauce instead of the chili and rice wine. I use toasted sesame oil instead of roasted peanut oil and don't usually use stock. If I don't have fresh tomatoes I use canned, or paste. You can microwave rather than oven-roast the eggplant, with almost as good results. The important thing is that it is well-collapsed.

                  If you do not own a mandoline (or V-slicer), I strongly recommend buying one. Many recs on the Cookware board. They make prepping easier and allow you to create visually-appealing dishes. Somehow many raw vegetables taste better in paper-thin slices. Also, you can turn a whole carrot, zucchini, or cuke into shreds or ribbons just by using a vegetable peeler. Work around the outside, then stop at the woody core of the carrot, and the seedy one of the zucc and cuke. Toss and dress.

                  I think one of the reasons why I enjoy spaghetti is the long strings. If you slice peppers and onions into fine rings before cooking them, they end up as strings in the finished dish, which I somehow find more satisfying than if they were diced. During farmer's market season I often overbuy fresh produce. Then I thin-slice raw vegetables and marinate them in a vinaigrette. All sorts of combinations are good, served either as is or over lettuce.

                  Strips/batons of raw vegetables with dip are tasty and filling in the place of a side dish or salad. Start with red bell peppers, which are sweeter than green, and celery and carrot sticks or baby carrot. If you have carrots with cracks, save them for cooking as they are more likely to be bitter and woody than the uncracked ones.

                  1. I love veggies sauted in a little olive oil and garlic. I mix them up: eggplant, zuccini, peppers, onions, mushrooms...mmm sometimes I saute them in pesto and sprinkle with asiago when I'm done. If I have time I will do them on the bbq in a basket - that's my favourite!

                    with meat and potato meals I just like plain old broccoli and cauliflower with cheese sauce. My kids love it too.