Everyone knows that veggies are important for a healthy diet, unfortunately, they are often neglected. Want to break out of your boring veggie rut without spending hours cooking? Our friends at Tufts University took care of the culinary inspiration in a recent newsletter.
Roast them. “If you roast vegetables, it concentrates the sugars naturally in the vegetables, so they caramelize and sweeten,” says Cyndie Story, Ph.D., RDN, a certified chef and culinary consultant in Scottsville, Kentucky. “People typically like the crunch of roasted vegetables, too.”
To roast vegetables, Story advises cutting them into uniform pieces (so they cook evenly), then toss them in olive oil and spices (such as oregano, cayenne pepper, parsley or garlic powder) for flavor, and spread them on a sheet pan. Bake in a 350–400 degree F oven until tender. She uses the lower end of the temperature range when it will take longer (like 30–35 minutes) for the vegetables to soften, such as sweet potato wedges. But for vegetables that cook quickly, such as kale chips that may take 5–8 minutes, she bakes them at 400 degrees F.
Add citrus. “Citrus goes a long way in seasoning vegetables,” says TJ Delle Donne, a certified executive chef and assistant dean of culinary relations and special projects at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. “After cooking, drizzle vegetables with a little bit of lemon juice and olive oil to make their flavor pop. Or, sprinkle them with the zest of the lemon or orange.” To zest citrus fruit, just run the fruit’s outer peel over the fine holes of a cheese grater or citrus zester. Avoid the white membrane underneath the peel, which has a bitter taste.
Deglaze the pan. After you’ve sautéed vegetables, Delle Donne recommends deglazing the pan to make a sauce for the vegetables. To do that, remove the cooked vegetables from the pan and add a liquid, such as low-sodium vegetable stock or citrus juice (such as lemon, lime or orange juice), to the pan. For extra flavor, you can add minced garlic or shallots.
Simmer the deglazing liquid and stir with a wooden spoon (to release the flavorful, caramelized bits stuck to the pan) for a few minutes over medium to medium-high heat until the liquid is thickened and reduced by about half. Pour the resulting sauce over the cooked vegetables. (The same deglazing process can be used with other pan-cooked foods, like fish or chicken, too.)