Please help me add veggies to my meals
I grew up in a meat and potatoes family. Vegetables at my mom's table was always (and still is) limited to an iceberg salad with bottled Catalina dressing. As I am now married and trying to eat better, I have tried to add veggies into my meals. Given my lack of knowledge, I am in a rut of steamed everything. Cauliflower, beets, green beans, kale, spinach, it all just gets steamed.
Please save me (and DH) from this rut.
So how do you prepare your veggies and what do you serve to round out a meal?
Where to begin. I've always been a salad with meals gal, my parents did this so I do. I must have a salad, even dining out. My kids too, and my now my hubby. He really loves salad now, and its only because I've gotten him used to having it. It helps with digestion, and he's such a big eater, I think it helps fill him. I want to let you know he too is from a family that ate a lot of meat, little fish or fish sticks and he grew up 5 mins from the ocean! He ate alot of prepared foods, boxed, canned and frozen. That is just the way many families eat, using a freezer or storing food thats on sale. When he met me, he was not sure if liked my food, he'd complain that I make a production, that I dirty too many dishes, and that I go to too much trouble. But he's changed, only because I didn't cave and I have to cook the way I know how. My parents had a huge garden, and fished, and ate fresh meat butchered. It's all about what you know, but you can change that, but first you have to clean the veggies, start looking them all over, and trying all the recipes with them. And I'd recommend simple transformations. Sautee some crimini mushrooms in a little garlic, butter and lolive oil. Brown them in a dry pan, then add the butter an olive oil, then the garlic, lastly toss some fresh parsley over the dish. You'll be amazed at the rich taste, honestly.
Take a bunch of broccoli, barely steam them. Drop them in a saute pan with a little oil then take a sprinkle of water and a pinch of sugar and a little red pepper flakes. Amazing.
Or cabbage wash it, take the core out ( you can see it) then cut into quarters, into a pot, add a little water, butter, bacon fat, salt and pepper and stew for about 15 mins. Cabbage is one of the most under appreciated veggies, and its simple and delish!
It's important to clean your veggies bringing them in, and to also not buy too many that they lose freshess by the time you eat them. I learned, and frankly I don't want to waste or make vegetable soup! I want to appreciate the flavors at peak, and they lose that when you leave them too long, either refrigerated or not.
re: chef chicklet
i like to steam veg lightly then shock in ice water so they don't overcook.
made a roasted cauliflower pizza, went over well but i thought it bland, needed more capers, i liked it with green olives.
been making stir fry with bok choy and oyster sauce. cabbage stir frys easily, too. + sliced carrots.
just had a veg lasagna. homemade ricotta, just soaked noodles in hot water. was surprisingly easy and good, used up leftovers. spinach raw just laid down cooked to nothing, though, you need to use a lot.
+1 on others' responses for roasted vegetables. With winter coming, the selection will be great. Roasted Brussel Sprouts are particularly good - crispy on the outside, creamy soft on the inside. Also, sweet potatoes cooked on low heat (325-350) to draw out the natural sugars - low heat can take a couple of hours depending on the size of the potato.
The great thing about roasting is you can mix like-densitiy vegetables in the same pan and have a roast vegetable medley of sorts. For even browning, be sure to stir them around 1/2 through cooking. For Thanksgiving, this makes a great one-pan, multi-offering side. Search "roasted vegetables" on Food Network for cooking temps (some cook hotter than others) and times. Narrow search by selecting Ina Garten.
Also braised greens in take your pick: garlic sauteed in olive oil/bacon grease, your choice of vinegar (I like hot pepper variety), red pepper flakes, a very small amount of honey/molasses, grated nutmeg. Top with sliced, boiled egg and/or bacon bits.
2 easy ways to make spaghetti more vegetably sneakily HEEHEEHEE
1 cook a freezer package of spinach accdg to the directions on package put on top of pasta but under sauce
or just cook the spinach in your sauce
we are not big on cooked spinach but my whole family likes it this way 2yrs old and up!!!
I had a problem with carbs when i was pregnant so I had to greatly reduce the amount I was consuming
I LOVE pizza (a good pie! not that delivery stuff!) and spaghetti with a thick hearty sauce wow
so I had to do something to fill the cravings w/o sending my sugar through the roof
so I have pasta sering the size of my fist ...which let me tell ya honey is NOT enough heehee
anyway a fistful with this helped me get thru the cravings and has remained on my menu since then ... if Im feeling lazy I just buy Newman's Own Sockarooni sauce and when money is tight even stretch it with a 14 oz can of Hunt's tomato sauce(dont tell anyone and I swear they will think youve been simmering that sauce for a day or 2) any way take 2 carrots peeled and cut into 4s longways then chopped into 1/2" pieces , dice 1/4 of a red bell pepper, one peeled stem of broccolli (whole tree trunk of a head of broccoli) chopped like the carrots, 2 cloves of garlic crushed, 1/2 of onion cut how you like- diced fine for me- put in sauce pan with 1-2 Tblspns olive oil+ salt and saute 2 minutes(med heat . stir and put lid on 2 more min) then add 1/2 cup h2o or broth and the top of broccoli head- flowers- chopped . stir bring to boil and reduce heat to low for 4-5 minutes or just until veggies are al-dente- cooked but still have a little crunch to them put these on your fist full of pasta and top with sauce. I added lean hamburger to the sauce but I have also tried chopped walnuts instead of beef and no one noticed haha REALLY
hope these help
I personally have a hard time with steamed veggies all the time so i saute often
hey you could try same veggies you steam saute them in extra virgin olive oil, but just before sauteeing them add garlic and ginger to the oil -- gives a chinese stir fry taste add salt and if u dont care for it at first try adding a teaspoon of sugar to 3 cups mixture AFTER you saute happy chowdown-- daff
The quickest and easiest way to add veggies to your diet, albeit not the tastiest, is to drink a green smoothie every morning. In any blender, dump one bag of Trader Joe's mixed greens, a few frozen strawberries and frozen pineapples ... and add two large glasses of water. (That's the basic. You can always add more.)
I can't really measure whether these have helped my health, but they definitely help my conscience.
The Vegetarian Times website has a few cooked vegetable smoothie recipes. One is called Betacarotene Barrage, with cooked carrots (which I steamed rather than boiled), coconut milk, oj, ginger and lime juice. Very delicious, and it keeps in a jar in the fridge for a few days. There's a another one with beets (roasted, not boiled), shallots (roasted alongside the beets, as I don't like them raw), sour cream (I used yogurt) and dill. Also really good, pretty much a cold borscht. I have the fixings for the spinach and apple one, which I will try next.
One of the advantages of these "smoothies" is that you get all the fiber of the vegetables, rather than leaving it behind when you juice them.
going to try not to repeat, but i might...
i do echo the recs for roasting and pureed soups, along with frittatas and quiches
i have blended broccoli and cauliflower with potato or zucchini flesh to make stuffed twice baked whatevers.
shredded zucchini with onions, eggs, almond meal (just enough to hold together), and salt and pepper, optional herbs of choice and/or parmesan cheese... form pancakes and bake or saute in pan. (can be done with carrots or cauliflower or sweet potato, etc or a combo thereof)
stuffed tomatoes -- with other veggies/fungi - saute onions with mushrooms, a little marsala, mix in some diced cooked broccoli, squash carrot, etc. stuff tomatoes, then sprinkle with bread crumbs or almond meal and parmesan; bake.
vegetable satay - make satay sauce (fish sauce, tamari, tahini, seasoned rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper) and marinate veggies then skewer and broil
Another great way is to sautee veggies like cauliflower, kale, spinach, corn, with a bit of garlic and then add a bit of veggie stock and puree them to make a lovely sauce or bed to put other stuff on. A pan-grilled lamb chop atop a bed of cauliflower and kale puree is tasty times. I also agree with everybody else with roasting. Pretty much the awesomest way to enjoy veggies ever. My favorite vegetables to roast are green beans, bell peppers, onions, and squash. Tossed with a bit of olive oil to coat and seasoned liberally with salt and pepper, there's no better way to enjoy the natural flavor of veggies, IMO!
If your family needs a bit of easing into the veggie revolution, a gratin is also a good solution. Epicurious has some tasty recipes for that. Who doesn't like cheese + veggies?
My (7yr old) son's favorite veggies are tomatoes florentine with lots of parmesan on top, and he also loves carmelized onions. Sauteed in a little oil until they are deep golden brown then finished with a little butter. Yum. Slaw is a great way to do broccoli, jicama, carrots, etc. differently. And of course, sauteed mushrooms work beatuifully as a side dish all on their own with a little butter, a litte garlic, salt and pepper. Also, we have lots of veggie heavy omlettes and frittatas - they make great quick and easy meals. A side of bread and some fruit and dinner is served.
Another great way to serve veggies is diced finely and added to an easy basic cheese souffle. Again, with a bread and fruit this makes a complete meal.
If you like mashed potatoes, try mashing other kinds of vegetables. I boil any number of rutabagas, cauliflower, carrots, turnips and butternut squash in salted water, puree in the food processor and add a little butter/olive oil and parmesan cheese along with a healthy amount of nutmeg and pepper and it's heaven. I've found I like them more because they reheat easily and don't have a starchy gluey texture.
As well as having them on the side in different ways, you can also add more vegetables to dishes. I love an aubergine (eggplant) lasagne of Martha Stewart's which also works well with courgettes (zucchini); I also add fresh tomatoes to the sauce at the end. You can add sliced peppers and fresh tomatoes to a chilli con carne. I love roast peppers, as well - though only red ones! Try grilled or fried mushrooms as well. You can stir roast peppers, tomatoes and grilled or fried aubergine to couscous as well. If you like Mediterranean/North African flavours, Nadine Abensur's Cranks Bible has a lot of delicious ideas.
lol...this is going to sound perhaps a little strange, but I had the remnants of a roasted chicken the other day, and decided to make soup. I threw in the chicken, some broth, onions, etc...and then realized I had very little in the way of vegetables (no carrots, celery, etc) to flavor the stock. So I threw in a cupful of V8 juice. The soup came out very tasty, and I figure I got some extra veggie karma in the soup.....
I really like a base of olive oil/minced garlic/crushed red pepper/anchovy. Get that going in a pan, then add your veg. My favorites are sliced yellow or grey squash, shredded Brussels sprouts, and green beans. Sweat/saute the veg until just tender, with a bit of browning here and there, then add a spritz of lemon juice and a handful of chopped parsley. If I'm doing the squash, I like to wilt in some spinach at the end too.
I also like beets, shredded (actually I use a V-slicer and julienne them) and cooked in a neutral oil until tender, with some slivered sage mixed in for the last minute or two. You can add crumbed feta and hazelnuts if you want it a little more substantial.
I'm also a big fan if dinner salads, especially in the summer months. Start with lettuce and lots of chopped veggies-peppers, cukes, tomatoes, whatever looks good. You can add some sliced chicken or good cold cuts and cheese to make a chef's salad with the creamy dressing of your choice. Or do chicken, corn, and avocado with a lime-cumin vinaigrette. Cobb salad is good too.
I try to think of veggies as the MAIN and protein and starch as the SIDES.
Curried vegetables are fantastic -- nav rataan korma is one of my favorite veggie preparations. Despite being a bit rich (although I do use evaporated milk rather than cream in mine) it's crammed with veggies, and then I just serve it with a bit of rice.
I totally agree with the roast/grill suggestions other 'hounds have made. There's nothing like grilled zucchini, or roasted cruciferous veg (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, etc). YUM.
Stuffing larger veggies and using them as the main dish is a great way to get more vegetables in your diet, as well as just opening up a whole new realm of options. Stuffed acorn squash, stuffed zucchini, even something like fun and super-retro like tomatoes filled with tuna salad! ;)
I cannot recommend Heidi Swanson's site highly enough. 101cookbooks.com. She's vegetarian and the site is packed with gorgeous veggie preparations. Just clicking through her photos will make you hungry, I guarantee it.
Good call on 101cookbooks.com. I was just about to recommend the site. Her sunburst carrot salad recipe has turned this former carrot hater into a carrot lover. And she has an amazing spin on brussels sprouts in her caramalized tofu recipe. I also got the idea to slow roast tomatoes in the oven from her site. Her site has tons of great recipes and ideas.
Also soups, as cassoulady mentioned above. I'm in the process of making one of my favorites right now, Bobby Flay's tomato soup. It calls for heavy cream but I like it ever better without:
Tomato sauce is great too, with finely diced carrots in there in addition of course to the onions, garlic, oregano and basil. A spicy puttanesca sauce is one of my favorites, is great with whole grain pasta. Plus these sauces take well to freezing.
I love your question, and these replies are helpful to me too. I'm always trying to add more veg, not just to eat healthier but to keep things interesting. Agree completely with roasting veg, esp. roasted cauliflower. My other go-tos:
Before dinner or as a snack:
Steamed edamame in the pods; grind of salt
Steamed artichokes with apple cider vinaigrette or remoulade
Cukes sliced, immersed in white vinegar, chilled
(this time of year): heirloom tomatoes sliced and lightly salted
Roasted chick peas with cumin, lemon, s+p (a legume, but still)
Cherry tomatoes sauteed in olive oil, basil (or frozen basil cubes from Trader Joes, very handy), s+p
Snap peas, threads removed, steamed and tossed with a few drops of oyster sauce
sauteed mushrooms with beef stock and red wine or port
baked stuffed potatoes laced with chopped kale or other hearty green
For a main, the rice salad the Antonia made on Top Chef is really great, and you can add to the salad whatever you have around. I especially like adding things like beluga lentils that I get pre-cooked in a vacuum pack from Trader Joe's. For the salad dressing I only use 1 yolk and whatever kind of vinegar I have on hand. The yolk is key, but 2 is too many I think. And you want to use it immediately.
One of my favorite dinners to make is catfish (dredge in cornmeal, fries up quickly in a saute pan) with collard greens, fried sweet potatoes dusted with cajun seasoning, and remoulade on the side. The collards are easy and delicious, they just need some time to cook down.
Also a chicken pot pie is great for adding lots of frozen mixed veg.
Making fruit desserts like a carrot cake with raisins and nuts is another great way to add vegetables.
There's nothing wrong with steaming vegetables, if you like them that way, as I do. It's among the most healthful preparations, as you are not adding fats, and there is minimal loss of vitamins. But if you looking for additional ways to get vegetables into your diet, consider the following:
1. Instead of thinking of vegetables as a separate side dish, prepare recipes in which the vegetables are integral part of the entree or starch -- whether as a stir fry, risotto, entree salad, or some other preparation. I prepare a sauteed chicken dish in which I always include mushrooms and carrots, and sometimes also green beans. In the summer, I also do a fair amount of entree salads, like salad nicoise or shrimp/ scallops tossed served with greens & asparagus, tossed in a citrus dressing.
2. Get more creative in the salads that you eat. Try different kinds of greens, and vary the other ingredients that you include. Try making a greek salad, caprese, etc., and use different dressings, depending on the ingredients.
I do a great many roasted and grilled vegies, especially in Summertime, but what I wanted to tell you is that incorporating vegetables into a marinara is the best way i can think of - i use a LOT of marinara in cooking and it goes in so. many. things. Mr. is good with vegies, but doesn't care for lg. chunks in his pasta sauce, so I grate carrots, onions, bell pepper, and zucchini and finely mince the 'shrooms. The fine texture of the veg. basically melts them into the sauce. If you saute chunks of eggplant with onion and toss with pasta, hot or cold, you've got pasta or pasta salad ala norma; just loaded with good stuff. My kids weren't particularly enthusiastic re veggies, so the grating turned out to be a godsend;they didn't have a clue. Carrot cake and zucchini breads come to mind. Ratatouille (braised tomatoes, zucchini, onion, eggplant, herbs, garlic) is great stuff that involves no steaming and always tastes great no matter the proportions you choose to use.
Do you want a good vegetable cookbook? Get "The Victory Garden Cookbook" by Marian Morash. This was first published several years ago and is still in print. You probably can get a cheap, used copy. She devotes a chapter to each vegetable and gives many different ways to fix it; she includes simple sautes, roasting, casseroles, and lots of other ways of fixing vegetables. She is married to Russell Morash, who was the producer at WGBH who started the PBS program "The Victory Garden." Then he asked Marian to provide little segments about what to do with all the vegetables, and she got popular.
You can also steam mixed veggies until just barely tender, shock in cold water, drain and then toss with a vinagrette for a lettuce-free salad.
Cauliflower and broccoli are both good mashed -- steam until tender, drain, season with S&P, some butter or olive oil, and puree with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt.
If you have a grill, then get a grilling basket, toss kabob type veggies in a bit of olive oil and grill until they get a little char on them, S&P to taste.
Congratulations on your decision.
I don't think anyone has mentioned stir frying yet? It's one of the quickest, easiest, and tastiest ways. You don't absolutely HAVE to have a fancy wok etc, just a stove burner capable of good high heat, and a big pan that can sit comfortably on it.
There are so many web sites that will give you simple recipes for seasoning your stir fry, often with aromatics like ginger, garlic, red chilli, (among lots of other options), along with soy sauce, corn starch, etc. to thicken if needed.
Serve with just about any Asian themed meal ....
Do report back on what you liked.
What veggies do you and DH like anyway? What kind of cuisines do you like?
Steaming is just about the most boring way to prepare vegetables!
As cassoulady points out, roasting is good. Cauliflower and broccoli are also great roasted, ditto for green beans. I like to toss them with EVOO, salt and pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Sometimes I'll throw in some dried ground thyme, or a handful of fresh thyme sprigs or rosemary sprigs. Cauliflower also roasts very nicely also tossed with curry powder, or just some tumeric, cumin and coriander. For roasted green beans and asparagus I usually omit the herbs and just roast with oil, salt & pepper and finish out of the oven with a squeeze of lemon juice and chopped tarragon or dill (fresh only) if I've got it in the garden or on hand.
Another really nice treatment for green beans is tossing cooked beans in a skillet in which you've sauteed sliced or roughly chopped onion or shallot, sliced mushrooms, both onions and mushrooms, onions and tomato, or sliced almonds or chopped hazelnuts, using butter as the medium for the saute. I usually boil the trimmed beans for three to seven minutes, just til tender but with a bit of crunch and then toss the drained beans into the skillet. Bacon is also very good with any of these bean add-ins.
For greens, I like them simply sauteed with oil, garlic, crushed red chile pepper, and topped with pan-toasted pinenuts. Sometimes I'll toss in raisins, or chopped sun-dried tomato. Bacon/bacon fat is also a good saute medium here. To prepare greens like chard, kale, collards, turnip, mustard greens, broccoli rabe, and escarole, just rinse well, cut across the bunch to create three-inch wide ribbons, and put into the sauteed garlic with just the moisture clinging to the leaves from rinsing. Sometimes you need to add a bit more liquid, which can be water or chicken broth/stock. Then cover, and simmer for several minutes to maybe ten or 20 minutes, depending on the green. Spinach is done in a flash, kale takes a bit longer, next is escarole, while rapini, mustard and turnip greens take a bit longer, while collards take longest. Occasionally a splash of balsamic or lemon juice once plated brightens the flavor. The key with greens is to cook just until tender, don't overcook.
Another great treatment for asparagus is to toss in oil and S&P and grill them (a treatment which also is great for scallions). Eggplant, sliced 1/2 thick and brushed with oil & S&P is another great gilling candidate. Don't forget about grilling peppers and onions too.
Our dinners always include either one or two vegetables, or a salad, or a salad and a veg. For salads think variety in greens and toppings. Go beyond iceberg and romaine with spinach, arugula, red leaf and oak leaf lettuce, mizuna, endive, radicchio, etc. and explore making your own vinaigrettes with good oils and vinegars. I'm especially fond of a salad made with boston lettuce, apples or pears, blue cheese, and walnuts or pecans, tossed simply with walnut oil and fig-infused vinegar. But romaine is my go-to salad green.
Hope these give you some good ideas.
I could not recommend any single technique that is more useful than learning to make vegetable soups as cassoulady suggests. I usually put a chopped onion, the vegetable, water or stock, on the stove, and puree when it's all very well cooked. I finish with either cream or yogurt, depending on my fattitude that day.
A caveat: butternut squash is a great soup option, but peeling them when they're raw can be painful for your hands. Instead, I cut the squash in half from top to bottom, seed it, cut it into chunks, and roast those with the skin still on, making sure all skin surface is exposed in the oven. The skin comes off easily when roasted. When you have that done, you can cook the squash chunks like the other soups, only you add the veg at the end, and then puree. You can cook everything in apple cider instead of water.
Another one I like to make is with frozen peas and onion, then cream and mint at the end.
I like using my blender more than my cuisinart for pureeing soups, but you also now have the option of using an immersion blender.
I just discovered roasting vegetables lately, i.e., within the last two years. That's another good one, and not just for potatoes anymore.
Roast! Seriously, just about any veggie roasted is fantastic. I love potato & onion, broccoli, cauliflower (which I normally don't like), all sorts of squash (winter & summer). I just cut the veggies into large chunks, toss with a little olive oil, season with salt & pepper, and throw them on a cookie sheet (foil-lined for easy clean up) or in a shallow baking dish. Around 425-250 degrees, til fork tender (maybe 1/2 hr, depending on chunk size & veggie).
Other ones my family like are mashed acorn squash, fresh green beans sauted quickly with lemon & garlic (no real recipe, just oil/garlic/beans & squeeze a lemon), potato sliced thinly & topped with onion & butter then wrapped in foil on the grill.
Don't underestimate a good salad - variety of greens, lots of chopped any veggie. My husband hated salad, til he realized he really just hated a bowl of lettuce. As long as there is a bunch of carrots, cukes, celery, red pepper, broccoli, red onion on it, now he loves it.
hate to admit it, but husband likes bottled dressing - current favorite is Newman's Honey Mustard, which I have to admit is not bad. The Roasted red pepper italian from Kraft is also ok for prepared dressing. I will make up a vinaigrette sometimes, although if it is just for me, I will do straight vinegar. I am sure there are tons of people here with great dressing recipes to share.
Really good basic vinaigrette: 1 chopped shallot, 2 T lemon jiuce, 2 T rice vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt, mix and allow to steep together for 15 minutes or so (to take the bite out of the shallot), then add 1/3 cup of olive oil. I do this in a screw-top jar and shake the heck out of it to blend. You can change it up using different citrus juices and different vinegars (if strong, start with less than 2 T) and adding herbs, etc. Keeps a couple days in the fridge. Here's the thread I got this from: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/337106
You mentioned growing up with Catalina dressing, but you didn't mention if you like it. You can very easily make your own Catalina-like dressing with tomato paste, sugar (or honey), vinegar (I use cider) and veggie oil. Just throw it in a small blender or shake vigorously. I like being able to control the amount of sweetness, but the lack of all the preservatives and chemicals and such is a nice side benefit.
Your steamed vegetables can be gussied up with just a drizzle of whatever salad dressings you like. I am partial to a little light ranch atop broccoli.
Greens of any sort are good braised. Brown chopped bacon, sweat onions in the fat, then add the greens and cover while they wilt. Then add a splash of vinegar (I like balsamic for the sweet element) and chicken broth (a bit of Better Than Bouillon base is handy here), and reduce till almost evaporated. Add red pepper flakes if you like them. This works for purchased greens like kale, spinach, chard, mustard greens, but is also good for the "freebie" green tops of radishes, turnips, and beets.
Have you tried roasting veggies or grilling them? Beets are wonderful roasted, as are brussel sprouts, carrots, asparagus, parsnips and really all root veggies. I would look to get a cook book focused on vegetables- Chez Panisse Vegetables is a good one to check out for inspiration.
I love roasted brocolli and cauliflower....out of this world!
Try different lettuces....we always have some type of lettuce salad on had....it goes with eaverthing!
Mexican corn on the cob is yummy!
Tomato pie is a great meal or side.
Stuffed veggies...eggplant , squash , pepper,tomatoes etc.
dip them raw or lightly blanched in homemade dip.