Vegetables are just a side dish to add onto the main dining event aren’t they? If this is your way of thinking then you might want to open up your culinary imagination. There are certainly many vegetarians and vegans out there who would tell you that you can create some pretty nutritious and delicious meals with veggies. So if you cannot think beyond a tin of peas or some corn and only throw a few sliced carrots into some boiling water to get your veg intake, then head to the grocery store and stock up on some ingredients for some creative and wonderful veggie dishes.
The best way to re-educate yourself about vegetables is to broaden your selection and create dishes that use seasonal produce and are seasonal. There’s nothing better than a rich and spicy vegetable curry when it’s cold outside, just as a chilled gazpacho is wonderful on a hot day. If you are short of a few ideas, then try a few of these ideas and experiment with your own combinations too.
- Baked peppers with goats cheese can be a hearty main or an appetizing tapas dish. Roast the peppers and when cool take the skins off before cutting into quarters, deseeded. Sprinkle on some goats cheese and add in some dry-fried pine nuts, with a splash of olive oil. You can also add a few raisins and some fresh basil too. Serve with some couscous or rice.
- Veggie fajitas are incredibly moreish and the trick is to roast your veggies first. Peppers, zucchini and eggplant work well, along with onion and mushrooms. Once the vegetables are nice and sticky serve them on a warm dish with soft flour or corn tortillas, with a homemade guacamole and a coriander and tomato salsa, as well as a spoonful of natural yoghurt.
- Steamed asparagus, roasted artichoke and cooked spinach are three sides or tapas plates that all taste great without any complicated cooking or extra ingredients. Add a knob of butter, some salt and pepper and a fine grating of nutmeg to enjoy this luxurious veggie options.
- Tortilla is really tasty served with a salad as a main course or even as a light lunch or snack. It’s also really easy to make too. Sweat sliced onions in a pan with a small amount of oil without them going brown and boil potatoes so they are cooked but solid enough to slice. Add whisked egg to the onions and potatoes and turn your tortilla over once it is cooked on one side. If you create a thick tortilla you can then serve it in slices warm or cold.
- Butternut squash risotto is a really creamy tasting dish. The trick is to make sure you cook the risotto just right and add in some cooked cubes of the squash and some lightly fried onions and garlic. Season well and add some sage leaves and grated nutmeg.
Tips for cooking with vegetables
A great way to cook with vegetables and still be healthy is to not try and mimic meat dishes. Often, vegetarian recipes are loaded with cheese or weighted down with pasta and bread. Instead, think about what flavors work well together, such as pea and mint, and keep the recipes fresh and simple. You can make a vegetable lasagne or smother a cauliflower with cheese sauce, but you might find that you are simply creating a high-calorie dish that is vegetarian.
A good tip is to really think about seasoning; use fresh herbs to cook with, not just for garnish and add in nuts and fruits to create layers and texture.
What’s your favorite vegetable dish? Share your veggie recipe ideas!