For the most part, people consider vegetables in one of three ways. First, as an afterthought, if at all. Second, as a side dish, playing third base to a Brontosaurus-sized hunk of meat and a big pile of starch. Third, as punishment, who remembers the days when you weren't allowed to leave the table until you finished your broccoli?
But it's time for a change. When a change in action is needed, a change in thinking must first occur. Vegetables aren't punishment, they aren't hippie health food. Vegetables are colorful, vibrant, satisfying and are absolutely delicious when given a little bit of thought and creativity. How can we do this...
For fresh vegetables, buy what's in season in your area. Seasonal vegetables have the best flavor and most beautiful color. Try seasonal vegetable combos, what grows together, goes together.
Try a different cooking method. I can't think of one veggie that doesn't taste amazing when roasted in a hot oven. Roasting caramelizes the natural sugars contained in the veggies rendering them golden brown and sweet! Try stir-frying or a simple saute. Garlic and olive oil, a hot pan and some veggies make a taste sensation. I've recently fallen in love with the steamer bags, I made a beautiful, colorful melange for work the other day...
That's two small zucchini squash, a couple of big handfuls of baby spinach and one sweet long red pepper with a pinch of lemon pepper and a teaspoon of Smart Balance. I steamed it at work, put it on a plate and enjoyed my veggies with a piece of leftover fritatta on the side. So good!
Try a different combination. Sure peas and carrots go together like Forrest and Jenny but there are infinite ways to combine vegetables in exciting ways. I was inspired by a roasted mushroom and Brussels dish in Everyday Food and came up with this beauty...
Sauteed Mushrooms and Brussels
1 package of cremini mushroom (also known as baby bellas), halved then cut in thick slices
1 pound of Brussels, stems and outer leaves removed, then thinly sliced
chopped fresh thyme and rosemary (about a tablespoon)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
salt and white pepper
Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat, add mushrooms. Add a pinch of salt and some white pepper and saute until they start to brown up and release their juice. Add Brussels. Cover and let steam for a couple of minutes. Remove cover and saute until the veggies are tender and the sprouts start to get some brown edges. Stir in fresh herbs, season to taste. Devour!
I served my veggies with a chicken cutlet that I topped with a mixture of Romano cheese, bread crumbs and fresh thyme and rosemary and baked in the oven until cooked through and golden brown. But as you can see from my dinner plate, the veggies are the star of the show.
Concerning vegetables, a fresh approach is needed. Let's bring veggies front and center as the star of the plate. I don't think the humble chicken will mind.