I’m always baffled when people tell me they don’t like vegetables. Don’t like vegetables? What a tragedy! I often wonder if it’s vegetables that they don’t like or if it’s because they’ve never had them prepared well. If they’ve only had tasteless mushy vegetables from a can, then we can agree that those are indeed icky.
When spending our precious money on food, we don’t have room in our tight budgets to cook vegetables that no one will eat because they don’t taste good. I have found that good preparation can go a long way from taking a vegetable from yuck to yum!
Here are my best tips for how to make vegetables taste great.
Use fresh vegetables
Fresh vegetables are going to taste better period. That’s just a fact. I didn’t believe it myself until we started growing our own food. Garden produce and produce freshly picked at a farmer’s market does not even compare to what you buy in a grocery store. The vegetables taste brighter and sweeter, and are usually more juicy. If you can’t find in season fresh vegetables, go for fresh vegetables in the produce section of your grocery store. If you can’t afford those for whatever reason, choose frozen vegetables. I would not recommend canned vegetables unless they have been canned at home. They are usually mushy, tasteless, and have lost much of their nutrients.
Properly cook them
I prefer vegetables that are crisp-tender. I do not like mushy or overly soft vegetables until they are in a soup or stew. My favorite way to achieve vegetables with a great texture and flavor is to either roast them or saute them. Either method is so quick and easy. Throw them on a pan, add a fat of choice and toss, and cook. My favorite things to saute are tender greens, Brussels sprouts, peppers, summer squash, etc. I roast just about every vegetable: asparagus, mushrooms, peppers, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, beets, potatoes, and cabbage slices. I’ve been told by a friend that radishes are amazing roasted as well. That’s next on my list. Steaming is another good way to cook vegetables like beets and green beans, but even green beans I like to lightly saute them after steaming them to give them a little bit more depth of flavor. With steaming, you just have to be careful not to overcook them.
Add some fat
I know this sounds counter-intuitive to some of you, but trust me on this. Fat paired with vegetables not only adds flavor, but also helps absorb the fat soluble vitamins found in vegetables. It’s really a win win. Fat can be added at the end, like butter or olive oil, or it can be added in the cooking process. Fats that I use in my home are real butter (absolutely no margarine), olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and animal fats from healthy pasture raised animals. Even raw vegetables like those in a salad are more palatable when paired with a great homemade dressing made with a quality fat like olive oil.
Add flavor enhancers
If you’ve followed all the advice above and you still aren’t digging vegetables, try some flavor enhancers. Who says vegetables have to be boring?
Lemon juice, parmesan cheese, cheese or creamy sauces, balsamic vinegar, pesto, fresh herbs, bacon, sea salt, cracked pepper, spices, onions, and garlic are great simple ways to jazz up plain vegetables.
Simple beginner vegetable recipes to get you started
roasted Brussels Sprouts
spinach and apple salad with sweet Italian dressing
honey glazed carrots
swiss chard with bacon and onions
simple roasted mixed vegetables
maple roasted sweet potatoes