Making Raw Vegetables Better
April 19, 2010 9:52 AM   Subscribe

I've been trying to eat more raw vegetables, but I don't want to get tired of them. How can I spruce them up a bit and add some variety?

A little bit of mayo helps, or peanut butter with my celery; but I'd like to incorporate some other flavorful options. I'm also not opposed to a little bit of cooking or prep time, but I'm primarily looking for fast and easy options, so I can eat them for quick meals and snacks.

posted by SpacemanStix to Food & Drink (35 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
You could juice them. You don't get much of the fiber, but it's a great way to get fruit and veg.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:56 AM on April 19, 2010

I love balsamic vinegar on veggies, especially spinach, red peppers and broccoli. Lime juice and lemon juice add lots of flavor with only a few calories.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:00 AM on April 19, 2010

I found chopping them in advance helped, and throwing in a bit of nuts/seeds/raisins to mix things up in the bag helped too. And sprinkle a bit of salt on your cucumber slices.
posted by furtive at 10:01 AM on April 19, 2010

My favorite dip for veggies is hummus, and by the way Emerald Valley makes some very tasty varieties. Baba ghanoush is good too. And some people love bean dip.
posted by bearwife at 10:03 AM on April 19, 2010

I eat my raw veg with a selection of salad dressings on the side used like dips. I usually have some kind of light ranch, light honey mustard, and light french dressing. I don't get sick of it because there's enough variety there.

Try eating them dipped in hummus. In the UK you can buy different flavours of hummus but if you can't do that where you are it's easy to make your own and vary the flavours (sun-dried tomato, caramelised onion, lemon and coriander flavours are my faves).

You could also make that onion dip everyone made when I was in high school - Liption onion soup mix and sour cream combined. Delicious but very salty.

Finally here are the recipes for a couple of dips that a friend of a friend brought to a party I went to. I liked them so much I asked for the recipes and here they are:

Recipe for Dips

Basic recipe

I standard tub Philly or similar
1dsp Mayonnaise

Mix above ingredients well put in serving bowl

Chili dip

1 Cream Cheese basic recipe
Sweet chill sauce
Basil (chopped)

Pour sauce over cream cheese sprinkle with chopped fresh basil.

Pecan and Olive Dip

1 Cream Cheese basic recipe
1 Hand full of Pecans
1 Hand full Black Olives ( I use black olives in brine well drained)

Chop Pecans and Olives mix into cream cheese mixture

If I am taking the dip to a party I use a light cream cheese and mayonnaise as anyone on a diet can then eat it.

Serve with carrot and celery sticks and any other vegetables you like.
posted by hazyjane at 10:03 AM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Marinate them! You can marinate in any vinaigrette. I also like to marinate asparagus or broccoli in a mixture of soy sauce, brown sugar, and lime juice.
posted by spinto at 10:05 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Gazpacho! A big batch will last in the fridge for a good week or so.
posted by meerkatty at 10:06 AM on April 19, 2010

I make green smoothies. I'm a veggie hater and have found them surprisingly palatable and easy to make myself drink every day.
posted by Mavri at 10:07 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

- make them into a huge veggie sandwich with awesome bread (I recommend chewy sourdough)

- make (what I call) "casual pickles" - cut veggies up, put in a container (preferably glass, maybe a Pyrex bowl or big jar), add some vinegar, salt, and maybe some chopped herbs or mustard seeds, fennel seeds, or black pepper. Let sit for "a while". Enjoy.
posted by amtho at 10:10 AM on April 19, 2010

I like dipping raw vegetables in miso paste. It serves the purpose even better than Marmite...
posted by Dan Brilliant at 10:12 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Dressings. Coleslaw, Greek salad, Asian-style salads with citrus and ginger and spice and sesame. Julienne and pickle: think banh mi without the meat. You can prep the dressings in decent sized batches and grate/shred the vegetables ahead of time and refrigerate: I use a mouli-julienne, but if you have a food processor with grating attachments, that'll do the trick too.
posted by holgate at 10:21 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you have a food processor or a mandolin and deft hands, you can shred a lot of veggies for slaws and cooking. Once a week, I shred mountains of carrots for a slaw (either Indian spicing with neutral oil and heated mustard seed, or a mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar). I also use shredded carrots and thinly sliced onions as an edible bed for any roast chicen or beef I make that week.
posted by maudlin at 10:25 AM on April 19, 2010

Rick Bayless uses shredded Romain lettuce (2 or 3 dups) dressed with 2 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar and 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil plus a little salt under all sorts of cooked Chicken, black beans, carrots and potatoes etc. The bed of Romain is really magical.
posted by leafwoman at 10:38 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

,,, cups of course
posted by leafwoman at 10:38 AM on April 19, 2010

Rice wine vinegar mixed equally with soy sauce is a good dipping sauce.

If you take cheap balsamic vinegar, put it on the stove top, and reduce by half, you get syrupy awesomeness that you can then drizzle onto raw vegetables or pour into a shallow pool of olive oil with some salt and black pepper and dip vegetables into that.

Texture is a good thing to play with. If you have a mandolin or food processor you can experiment with getting slivers of different vegetables and mixing them together, then tossing with an acid like lemon juice, lime juice, or vinegar.

Thinking about creating complexity is worthwhile if you're feeling bored, like if you take a sweet vegetable like a red bell pepper, along with a little hot chili, some lime juice, and make a relish out of that. A couple of spoonfuls of that in an avocado half would be pretty good. So maybe look for sweet + hot, or soft + crunch (like orange wedges and fennel).

Most of this stuff will keep for a few days. The rice wine vinegar/soy sauce mixture and the reduced balsamic vinegar I think will give you the most bang for your buck and is shelf stable, so you can make it and use it at your leisure for whatever vegetables you have around. And don't be afraid to get weird -- balsamic vinegar on something sweet like apples or strawberries is especially good.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:07 AM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: You all have some awesome ideas. Thanks.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:12 AM on April 19, 2010

This Cucumber Gazpacho is fantastic, and cut veggies with this Spinach Dip is great, especially sweet red peppers and carrots.
posted by tula at 11:13 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding Mavri: green smoothies trick me into eating a lot of veggies. My basic smoothie is:

-1.5 cups of kale
- 1/2 cup of peeled cucumber
- 1 frozen banana
- some frozen fruit. Lately it's been raspberries
- enough almond milk or water to make it blendable (1/2 to 1 cup)

I whiz it all together in a food processor, which gets something much chunkier than a real smoothie from a blender, but hey, it works for me.

Things I've added to the basic smoothie: broccoli, broccoli stalks, apples, mango, romaine, peanut butter, red pepper, spinach, carrots, and avocados. Except for one where I went a little avocado-crazy, they've all been great.
posted by punchtothehead at 11:15 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you like onion dip, I'll one-up hazyjane's suggestion and suggest you make Sally Schneider's "Real Onion Dip." That Atlantic link leaves out the most important step for some reason: when you've made the caramelized onions, mix them with sour cream in about a 1-to-1 proportion.

The dip is so astoundingly good, it's not even comparable to the onion-soup-mix dip. Great with carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, you name it--I'd probably eat a piece of cardboard with that dip on it. In fact I think I may need to go make some dip right now.
posted by Ms. Informed at 11:17 AM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Make different dressings for them; they're easily made ahead of time and just require tossing last-minute. And since the possibilities are endless your tastebuds won't get as bored. Some ideas from a list I just wrote up for myself culled from various cookbooks (to get ready for summer's bounty!):

Vinaigrettes, other dressings:
Apple Cider and Sage
Pear Juice and Rosemary
Cranberry Juice and Balsamic
Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice and Sesame
Pomegranate Juice and Honey
(admittedly unorthodox) Salsa verde, with or without capers (good on crucifers and potatoes)
Brown sugar and lime
Orange and basil
Tequila and lime
Thai sweet-tart dressing (good on cucumbers)
Tarragon Mayonnaise
Lemon Mayonnaise
crema (Italian, not the same thing as Mexican cream)
thickened yogurt

Some overlooked garnishes: crystallized ginger, candied pecans, dried fruit, coconut flakes, toasted nuts or pepitas
posted by ifjuly at 11:20 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

What about adding them to a salad? Tabouleh is one of my favorite ways to get raw veggies in, and it doesn't require any cooking. I tend to go a little off-book and add things like cucumber, broccoli florets, and asparagus to mine for extra veggie punches.

My family is a huge fan of vinegar cucumbers - it was a constant staple in our fridge during the summer. I hated them, but I'm not a vinegar person.
posted by kerning at 11:32 AM on April 19, 2010

Summer rolls! Start with something basic like this and then mix and match with different crunchy veggies.
posted by mochapickle at 11:46 AM on April 19, 2010

Seconding those who recommend switching up the textures. I don't have a food processor, but for just a few bucks you can get a julienne peeler, which makes everything more restaurantesque.
posted by Beardman at 11:53 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I once bought a carrot from a street vendor in Istanbul. He peeled it, squeezed lemon on it, and salted it, all in about a half second. Best damn carrot I've ever had.
posted by booth at 12:43 PM on April 19, 2010

My easy lunch, which could also be an easy snack, is a quickie salad, sans lettuce - chopped up cucumbers, halved cherry tomatoes, a handful of chickpeas, and some capers, if I want a bit of salt. Dressed with some basil-infused vinaigrette. Adding chickpeas or capers helps mix up the textures and flavours for me. (I do recommend finding a nice, reasonably neutral vinaigrette that you like and keeping it handy, either homemade or store bought.)

In the not-remotely-healthy category, making a peanut sauce of coconut milk, peanut butter, some soy sauce and a bit of water or broth is awesome for dipping carrots and such.

And of course, raw avocado mashed up with some salt, pepper and lemon juice is delicious on toast.
posted by nicoleincanada at 12:43 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wasabi mayo!
posted by MsMolly at 1:09 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I picked up a bottle of powdered chili lime stuff in some Mexican grocery store. It is lovely stuff sprinkled on all kinds of things, from mangoes to cucumber.
posted by QIbHom at 1:15 PM on April 19, 2010

Wow, good timing! I just made the following veggie dip twice in as many weeks. It's a big hit at parties. The amounts are totally variable based on your taste, this is just a guideline as I've made this dip so many times I rarely measure.

2 small cartons cottage cheese
1 packet dry Italian dressing mix
1/4 c mayo (depending on how runny your cottage cheese is)
2+ tablespoons of curry powder (start with 1 1/2 to 2 TBSP and taste, you'll probably end up adding more, but keep in mind the flavor gets stronger the longer it sits)

I usually make this the day before or the morning before I will serve it. It takes on a lovely yellow color and curry flavor after sitting in the fridge for a few hours. Serve with whatever veggies you like. Cucumber and bell peppers work really well. For fancy presentation serve the dip in a hallowed out red bell pepper.
posted by purpletangerine at 1:17 PM on April 19, 2010

I'm quite partial to knocking up a quick peanut dressing (using a spoonful of red curry paste from a jar, a big dollop of peanut butter, coconut milk and lime juice to taste) and getting all Gado-gado on veggies' ass.
posted by kxr at 1:49 PM on April 19, 2010

My culinary word was rocked this weekend when the taco truck put lime juice & salt on my roasted corn-on-the-cob. Now I am salivating.

Also, you could pick a particular condiment of which you are a fan (mine is mustard) and try some fancy varieties with different vegetables. See what goes together and what doesn't. It's a delicious experiment!

I am vegan, so I eat a fuckton of vegetables, and this is my go-to website for cooking fast & easy when I'm away from my cookbooks. The "Garden Grilled Vegetables" recipe includes a marinade & dipping sauce, and oh my god who knew that grilled radicchio was so delicious? OM NOM NOM. Yes, there's a wee bit of prep time involved, but it makes a ton of food and the steps can be done way out in advance or over a day or two. You could just use the sauces for dipping, too.

Finally, back when I was not vegan, I used to enjoy a bit of cream cheese on my celery. Crunchy celery and protein in the cheese makes it a satisfying snack.
posted by Fui Non Sum at 2:39 PM on April 19, 2010

Grain salad! 1 grain, a couple vegetables, fresh herbs, olives, feta or goat cheese, lime juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper gets you a crunchy, sweet, tangy meal that tastes good either cold or room temperature and lasts a few days in the fridge.

I'm partial to rice, big israeli-style couscous, or bulgur for the grain, but you could use anything. I also like to add chickpeas for protein and an another texture (you can substitute a different bean if there's one you prefer or skip it entirely). Olives add a nice brininess, but are again, totally optional. Ditto for the cheese. I recommend using several types of vegetables—I personally like red or yellow bell peppers for sweetness, celery for crunch, a dark leafy green for bitterness, and red onion* for well, oniony-ness. A fistful of chopped mint makes the salad extra-refreshing in the summer, and I always dump a whole bunch of parsley in; I'd skip the herbs entirely though if you don't have fresh. I'm sure this would be great with the salad dressing of your choice, but I like to just drizzle a bunch of olive oil and lime juice over everything and dust it with a light coat of pepper. (I don't add salt if I'm using feta, otherwise I do).


*I soak the onion in cold water after it's been chopped to dull the flavor a little so it doesn't dominate everything
posted by (Over) Thinking at 5:02 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I eat this about twice a week during asparagus season. Takes a bit of cooking, but not long at all:

Cut asparagus into bite-sized pieces (snap off the tough ends and throw them away) and blanch them briefly in boiling water. Take out and drain when they're tender enough to eat.
Toss them w/ raw spinach leaves (the pre-washed bagged stuff is super convenient), lemon juice, and salt. Sometimes I throw in some avacado chunks and/or Parmesan cheese too. Delicious and super fast! Tonight I made the same thing w/ strawberries and honey-mustard vinaigrette instead of the avacado.
posted by aka burlap at 6:26 PM on April 19, 2010

Response by poster: This was great. Thanks to everone who contributed. I can't wait to try some of these out!
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:01 PM on April 19, 2010

Peanut Dipping Sauce:

3 cloves of garlic, minced
2TBSP tomato paste
2tsp dried red chilies
1/2c chicken broth 1/2 tsp sugar
1/4c hoisen sauce
1/4c peanut butter

Heat till bubbly then chill.

Nuoc Cham:

3 cloves of galic, minced
1 small red thai chili or, jalapeno minced
1-2TBSP sugar
1TBSP grated ginger
3TBSP lime juice
3TBSP oyster sauce

Both are meant for spring rolls, but they taste great on raw vegetables like cucumber, sweet peppers, celery, carrots, broccoli.

And one of my all time favourite salads is spinach drizzled in balsamic vinegar and olive oil with some thinly sliced dried fruit on top (peaches, pears and apricots work really well).
posted by squeak at 9:04 PM on April 19, 2010

Ms Informed, your user name says it all. Holy crap, is that onion dip good! Easy to make too. I made it last night so I could bring it to work(I too am trying to eat more vegetables) and I'm eating it right now. Seriously awesome! Memail me if you have any other great recipes you care to share! I am favouriting this page...
posted by Jubey at 8:48 PM on April 20, 2010

« Older Scooby Doo mystery...written language sleuths...   |   Keep my iPod working through my abuse! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.