Dragging myself kicking and screaming into adulthood
June 7, 2011 10:08 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for simple vegetable-centric recipes that really highlight the appeal of the vegetables they're made with. I don't have experience with enjoying very many vegetables, so I'm looking for recipes which will make me more familiar with what makes particular veggies delicious.

Raw carrots. Potatoes. Onions. Peppers. Corn on the cob. Maybe mushrooms. Those are the vegetables I eat and like. Not really an impressive mix. And with the exception of potatoes, none of those vegetables make for a good centerpiece to a meal (as far as I know).

As a kid I ate broccoli and peas, and maybe a few other things on occasion. Maybe it was the recipes my parents used, maybe I was just a young pest, but I had such a negative experience with them that now I don't eat them at all. And there are plenty of other vegetables I simply have no experience with.

I'm sure these are all delicious foods. My problem is: I don't know what makes them delicious. I know when I'm in the mood for eggs or tacos or burgers; I don't know which vegetables would fit my moods, because I've never tried them. So I'd like your recommendations for recipes that'll make me much more familiar with individual vegetables. I'm not looking for anything fancy; I just want something I can prepare when I'm hungry that'll additionally get me more familiar with what vegetables taste and feel like.

And if you're particularly passionate about a certain vegetable, I am more than open to you proselytizing your favorites to me. I'd love to share your passions for your favorites. I'm a blank slate! Take advantage of my naivete!
posted by Rory Marinich to Food & Drink (57 answers total) 214 users marked this as a favorite
This will change your mind about broccoli. No, really. It's a very simple, straightforward way of preparing it, which just so happens to be addictively edible.
posted by hermitosis at 10:10 AM on June 7, 2011 [43 favorites]

Roast everything. IMO, it's the best way to get delicious texture and still retain the flavor of the veggies.

Roast kale: Wash & dry kale. Tear into chunks, toss with olive oil, roast at 375-400ish until crispy. Salt + pepper.

Roast cauliflower: Wash & dry cauliflower. Break into chunks, toss with olive oil, roast at 375-400ish until soft, but edges slightly browned. Salt + pepper.

Roast squash: Clean & cut squash. Toss with olive oil, etc etc etc.

Parsnips, spinach, carrots, potatoes. Pretty much everything is delicious this way. Adjust the seasonings to however you're feeling. Squash with lime and chili powder? Kale with smoked paprika? Cauliflower with mustard? The possibilities are endless.
posted by specialagentwebb at 10:15 AM on June 7, 2011 [13 favorites]

Next time you're at the store, buy a sampling of lots of different veggies. Then roast them. It's a good way to bring out all the natural sweetness of the vegetables without too much fuss (which makes it a good introduction to unfamiliar veg), and you can figure out what you like and don't like and go from there with more complicated recipes.

To roast: set your oven to 400°. Chop the vegetables into similarly sized pieces (bite-sized is good, just make sure they're relatively uniform) and toss with a little bit of salt, pepper, and olive oil until they're lightly coated. Arrange on a tray so that they're not all piled on top of each other. Stick in oven, poke occasionally with fork, remove when soft (usually about 30 minutes).

Really good ones: potatoes (obviously), sweet potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, carrots, etc, etc, etc.
posted by phunniemee at 10:18 AM on June 7, 2011 [5 favorites]

My favorite salad recipe.

- Baby spinach
- Soy sauce
- Lemon juice

Put baby spinach in bowl. Top with a bit of soy sauce and a bit of lemon juice, proportions adjusted to taste. Maybe add some salt or garlic pepper or something. Toss. Eat. It brings out the flavor and the texture of baby spinach so well without being bland, and is just about the healthiest thing you can put in your body.
posted by nasreddin at 10:19 AM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Preview fail! What specialagentwebb said. Except I prefer to season before roasting.
posted by phunniemee at 10:19 AM on June 7, 2011

I never had brussel sprouts before I was 30. They have a terrible reputation, at least with the Little Rascals and the like, so I never tried them.

And then I had brussel sprouts sauteed in olive oil with garlic at a New Orleans restaurant and they're AMAZING. I mean, I thought they must have covered them in something weird because there's no way those could have tasted like that. Until I cut some in half, put oil in the pan and just cooked my own and they smelled and tasted, well, almost as good. But still, amazing.

Steamed artichoke. Scrape the leaf meat off with your teeth dipped in a balsamic dressing? Awesome. Seriously awesome. The choke at the center is a pain in the rear, but the heart, when steamed well, is this amazing, meaty awesomeness that you also don't quite get when you just get an artichoke heart-covered pizza. It's like nature's fondue -- a perfect first course and holy awesomeness.
posted by Gucky at 10:20 AM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

My standard advice on vegetables is that freshness is paramount. For the most part, frozen veggies lose a lot of their character when you cook them. Overcooking is a problem: you can eat most things raw, so err on the side of too little, rather than too much.

As a kid I was ruined on so many delicious foods because my parents were over-cookers. Mushy asparagus is pretty awful, for instance. Fresh asparagus, tossed with olive oil and garlic, and briefly grilled or sauteed, on the other hand, is fantastic.

Almost everything (except sweets like carrots or winter squashes) is better with garlic and olive oil and sea salt. Get to a Penzey's or other decent spice shop and pick out some spices or blends which appeal to you, and go nuts.

On preview, a lot of people are saying roasting is the way to go. That's fine, too, but in these months maybe you want to explore grilling them instead.
posted by gauche at 10:21 AM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

dipping sauce for veggies that lets their natural flavor shine:
1) REAL (<important!) Mayonnaise
2) FRESH (<ditto) Lemon Juice

that's it. if you want to get fancy with it add ONE spice, no more. lemon zest OR pepper OR dill works...

most veggies just require a bit of steam to cook, and hardly any time, and no fancy equipment. just boil an inch of water (its ok if the bottom ones get wet) toss in vegetables, put a lid on it, and steam for 5 minutes. great for broccoli, green beans, corn, asparagus...

i like my carrots raw with celery, cucumber and green pepper...
posted by sexyrobot at 10:21 AM on June 7, 2011

Also, my 11 year old loves edamame. Just microwaved with salt. Totally indulgent snack food. Except, you know, veggie.
posted by Gucky at 10:21 AM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


01. grill asparagus with a little olive oil and salt
02. hungrily devour while making crazed slobbery sounds
03. repeat forever and ever
04. if you are feeling fancy you can wrap stalks in prosciutto or other hammy substance

If the stalks are really fat, you should prolly steam them a bit first. I like mine to be more on the still-crisp side of the asparagus crunchiness spectrum but ymmv.

oh god so hungry
posted by elizardbits at 10:24 AM on June 7, 2011 [7 favorites]

Do you like tomatoes? I'm not a huge tomato guy normally but a simple insalata caprese is amazing (add some marinated red pepper slivers to really push it over the top).

Broccoli rabe sauteed lightly with a small amount of oil, garlic, and lemon juice is delicious and easy to make.

Celery with a light spread of unsalted peanut butter (smooth or chunky as you prefer) really brings out the salt, slight astringency, and crunch of the celery.

A tricolore salad of endive, radicchio, and arugala lightly dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette and fine-ground pepper and sea salt can be a religious experience.

Asparagus, lightly oiled, on a grill. They're done when the grill marks are slightly charred.

Take a cucumber. Peel it. Slice it into fine discs as if you were cutting preserved meat. Toss these discs lightly with vinegar; salt if you like. Chill for an hour. Eat potato-chip style out of the bowl on a hot day.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:25 AM on June 7, 2011

I really like grilled sweet potatoes. Just slice them into vaguely-hamburger-thick slices, brush some olive oil on them, a bit of sea salt, and toss them on the grill.

In addition, absolutely everything anyone says about asparagus: Asparagus is the best thing.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:26 AM on June 7, 2011

Green beans. The fresh ones, not the canned crap. Boiled until just tender. (!0 minutes, maybe?) Serve with a light sprinkling of sea salt.

Roast your own red peppers if you have a gas stove. (google the directions.) They're great on tacos, wraps, salads, pasta...(I might eat dog poo if it had roasted red peppers on it).

The other day I cubed some potatoes and onions, drizzled with lemon juice, olive oil, and sprinkled with Greek seasoning and roasted. I added some cherry tomatoes about 10 minutes before they were done. The tomatoes burst and got everything all tomatoey...delish.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 10:26 AM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Onions, peppers, mushrooms. Slice them up thin, then sautee them in a little bit of olive oil several minutes, until desired done-ness. Add a little salt, pepper, cumin. I usually make a bunch of this mixture at a time and then use it for several days. Use the mixture to make veggie quesadillas (favorite cheese combination: pepperjack + white cheddar), or put the mixture into pita pockets and add some sliced avocado and/or sour cream and/or salsa.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 10:27 AM on June 7, 2011

1. take a zucchini, a yellow (summer) squash, and an onion.
slice them up, keeping the onion separate from the other two.
sautee the onion in some olive oil, until it begins to brown.
Add the zucchini and squash, along with some basil and oregano
when the squash begins to wilt and get soft, ad some balsalmic vinegar, salt and pepper
cook for another two minutes.
That's it.

Take 2 cucumbers (the disc slicer on a cuisinart works great for this, or if you have a box grater with a slicer side, likewise).
Take 3 carrots and grate them with the large holes on a box grater
put these in a bowl and add 1/2 cup sugar, 2/3 cup vinegar (white or rice), a teaspoon of salt, and a couple stalks of chopped chives and/or cilantro.
Let sit for at least two hours in the fridge.
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:30 AM on June 7, 2011

Cut carrots into 1/4 inch rounds. Steam carrots until just tender. Rinse under cold water. Toss in vinaigrette. To make vinaigrette: Whisk 4 tbsps. of apple cider vinegar, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 1/2 tsps. of paprika, 1/4 tsp. of cumin, a pinch of salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper (or more, like I do) together. Whisk in 1/3 cup of olive oil and taste for seasoning. Serve alone or over greens. Eat a few of the carrots alone before you toss them in the vinaigrette, to make it easier to taste the carrot flavor in the salad.

This arugula, potato and green bean salad is one of my favorite meals. It very much brings the taste of the green beans to the front, while backing it up with enough substance to feel full.

As noted above, the fresher the better, and cauliflower (tossed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper) roasted until it's just starting to brown is one of the most delicious foods in the world.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:37 AM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

omg also - back when I was a broke hobo in Spain, my favourite winter meal was as follows:

01. sautee mushrooms, peppers, onions, broccoli, courgette, other squashes, eggplant, and tomatoes in olive oil until just done
02. add a bit of tomato paste to make it more pastey
03. cut narrow channel out of the top of a day-old (and therefore 20 peseta) baguette and smoosh the insides down a bit, leaving a delicious crusty bread shell
04. slather baguette with chunky veggie paste of gloriousness
05. add layer of fresh spinach
06. add layer of queso fresco
07. smash baguette top back on
08. salt and pepper as needed
09. cram into mouth with accompanying NOM sounds
posted by elizardbits at 10:37 AM on June 7, 2011 [7 favorites]

Sugar snap peas and other edible shell peas are best raw. Rinse them, pinch the ends off, and eat. They're in grocery stores right now. You can put a little pile of them on your plate, the same way you would do with a pile of mashed potatoes, or they also go into salads raw (chopped).
posted by anaelith at 10:38 AM on June 7, 2011

A cucumber sliced into discs, seasoned with salt, pepper, and a pinch (maybe a teaspoon?) of sugar.
posted by ignignokt at 10:51 AM on June 7, 2011

Take a whole aubergine/ eggplant. Put on foil wrapped tray just under your oven's grill/ broiler. Keep an eye on it. You want the skin to char, but not to catch fire. Turn over every 5 minutes or so, so that all sides become soft. At some point, the aubergine will burst slightly and juices flow out. When the whole thing is soft and pulpy, remove from oven and scrape the flesh (not the skin) into a colander. Drain a few minutes.

Then put in bowl and mash it up with any of the following. Feel free to mix and match, but remember to taste as you go. If you use a blender, you'll get a good puree.

- garlic
- roasted garlic
- shallots
- browned onions
- extra virgin olive oil
- tahini
- parsley
- lemon juice
- balsamic vinegar
- pomegranate molasses
- salt
- dried chile flakes (or chile sauce)
- yoghurt, preferably Greek

Optionally, sprinkle on one or more of the following:

- parsley
- pine nuts fried in olive oil
- toasted walnuts
- pomegranate kernels
- slivered almonds browned in brown butter
- fresh mint
- dill
- feta

You have the essence of aubergine as prepared all over the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia. You'll have a sense of the flavour profile, and the tastes that go well with the vegetable. Eat it with pita, pita chips, on bread, or use as a base for fish or meat, eg grilled lamb.

Naturally, you can also spice it up, eg with mustard seeds or cumin.
For added deliciousness and authenticity, char the aubergine skin over a flame, preferably a real fire.

The aubergine master class is probably in the Turkish imam bayildi. And then there's the Sichuan fish-fragrant aubergine, which I've not tried cooking myself, but the Fuchsia Dunlop recipe is probably great. Aubergine is great. If I were a vegetable that's the one I'd like to be.
posted by tavegyl at 10:52 AM on June 7, 2011 [4 favorites]

Healthy Cooking for Two (or Just You) has been really helpful in getting me to expand my cooking in general - it has good portion sizes, really clear instructions, suggestions for combining dishes to make a meal and full menu suggestions, and a lot of vegetable dishes, since the author's daughters are vegetarian. The recipes rely on fresh, simple ingredients, and give you good cues about when your vegetables are cooked correctly. And if you don't like the results, there's not much waste.
posted by EvaDestruction at 10:52 AM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I like squash a lot, and they're comfortable being the center of attention. Here are two of my favorites.

Pasta Stuffed With Squash and Sage

Measurements are approximate, but don’t worry, you need not be exact.

- 1/2 pound large pasta shells (you could also use cannelloni)
- 1/2 of a small butternut squash, about a pound
- 1 cup grated mozzarella
- 1/2 cup ricotta
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 1/2 cups white sauce
- small handful fresh sage leaves
- fresh black pepper and salt to taste
- red pepper chili flakes to taste
- tiny pinch of cinnamon and some nutmeg, if you like
- optional: 4 slices of bacon, fried and diced

To cook:
- Cut the squash into 1″ slices and put on an oiled baking tray. Brush with olive oil, season, and bake at 325° until tender and a little brown on the edges. Cool, strip off any rind if it’s tough, and break into chunks.
- Mix together the squash, mozzarella, minced sage, and ricotta. (Save out a handful of the mozzarella to put on top later). Season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. You can add a little cinnamon and the nutmeg if you like, but I found that the roasted squash was sweet and warm-tasting enough without it. (Add bacon if using.)
- Cook the pasta until al dente, drain, and rinse with cool water. (Don’t let them sit around too long before filling them or they’ll all stick together.) Fill each shell with the squash mixture and put in a shallow baking dish.
- Pour on the white sauce and cover with the Parmesan, mozzarella, and more fresh black pepper.
- Bake uncovered at 325° until cheese is well melted.

Try not to eat the whole pan.

My Mom's Squash Stew
(make with cornmeal dumplings)

- 1 1/2 large yellow onions
- 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
- 5-6 cloves of garlic
- 3/4 teaspoon fresh-ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 cup green chillies (adjust amount according to the spiciness of your particular peppers)
- 1 1/2 quarts cooked tomatoes and their liquid
- 1 1/4 lbs or so of yellow winter squash (butternut, acorn, something like that)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or chicken stock, if you like)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/4 pounds zucchini
- 3-4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 recipe of Cornmeal Dumplings
- 1-2 lbs chicken breast (optional)

To cook:
- Peel and cut the squash into 1/2″ cubes.
- Chop onion and put in a BIG pot with the olive oil over medium heat.
- Sauté until clear, then add garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and chilies. Cook for another two or three mintues.
- Add the tomatoes and their liquid, the squash, salt, and water. (Since I like to use whole tomatoes, and chopping them gets messy quickly, I simply put them in the pot, then squeeze each one in my fist until it’s all pulpy. Satisfying, but watch for squirts.)
- Turn up the heat until it boils, then turn down to a nice simmer. Cook for an hour, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, make dumpling batter. (Keep the dry and wet ingredients separate until just before you add to the pot, lest your baking powder employ its oomph too soon.)
- Add sliced zucchini, cilantro, and chicken, stir, and bring back up to a simmer.
- Mix your dumplings together, then spoon in by the heaping tablespoon. (I usually end up with about eight or ten.) Cover and simmer VERY GENTLY for twenty minutes.

Serves 6-8. Good leftover.
posted by Specklet at 10:55 AM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh man, a good artichoke is a favorite snack. Boil a pot of water then throw that shit in for a half hour, just the whole fucking thing. While it's boiling, mix a little flax oil with some vinegar and lemon juice to dip it in. Delicious and simple.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:00 AM on June 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

You're so in luck...it's grilling season! A light marinade (if you're not super advanced Good Seasons works just fine) and slap 'em on the grill! Zucchini, squash, tofu, onions, peppers, mushrooms-all delicious! You can also cube any combination of the above for skewers of delight! For heartier sandwich-worthy grilled veggies, try grilling a portobella cap marinated in balsamic vinaigrette. At the end of cooking, top with some goat cheese. If feeling fancy, wilt some greens on top and throw a few pine nuts on there. Put in bun and enjoy. You can also grill eggplant and top it with a bit of cheese and tomatoes for another great veggie burger option. Grilled vegetables are one of the best parts of summer!
posted by troublewithwolves at 11:01 AM on June 7, 2011

I agree with everyone who suggests slow roasting or grilling of vegetables. The thing is, vegetable flavors are more subtle than meat. I didn't really appreciate subtle (although I've always eaten lots of vegetables) until I became a vegetarian. I'm not saying that's what you need to do to like vegetables, but my doing so meant I stopped eating out at the local taqueria and Dairy queen all the time, because who wants to go there when you're a vegetarian? That meant I cut a lot of salt and fat out of my diet because I started cooking at home. After a few weeks, it seemed like suddenly I could taste and enjoy new flavors I had never noticed before. So if you eat out a lot and/or eat a lot of salty, greasy stuff, or processed foods, try reducing that as well.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:09 AM on June 7, 2011

Acquire beets. Small ones are best. Golden beets? Doubleplusgood.

Preheat oven to 350 or so.

Wash beets. They can be pretty dirty sometimes, especially if you're not going to peel them.

Peel beets if necessary. Wear an old shirt for this part. This is one of the reasons small ones are best, though - baby beets need less (if any) peeling.

Chop beets into quarters or eighths.

Place beets in oven safe baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Moosh them around with your hands so that everything gets well covered.

Place beets in oven. Roast for an hour or so. You will know they are done when they have about the consistency of a roast potato (or any other roasted root vegetable, honestly).

Eat. Try not to die from the awesomeness of it all.
posted by Sara C. at 11:16 AM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

You say 'maybe mushrooms' -- mushrooms are a great centerpiece! Get some fancy-type mushrooms (shitake, oyster, trumpet) from Whole Foods or wherever, slice them up, cook them with garlic and butter until they are soft, toss over pasta for dinner or serve them like that as a vegetable side.

Also, marinade portobello mushrooms -- the big kind to substitute for a burger, or the baby kind on skewers -- in lemon, garlic, herbs, and maybe vinegar for as long as possible (i.e. the length of time between when you remember to do this and dinnertime), then grill. YUM.
posted by anotherthink at 11:36 AM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

My usual summer lunch on days when it feels too hot to eat is an Israeli salad. Take a cucumber and a tomato, wash them off, and dice them very fine. Add finely chopped onion or a grated carrot or a finely chopped bell pepper too if you want. Then make a dressing out of a generous splash of olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper. (If it is a truly unbearably hot day I sometimes add mint. Mint is awesome, and refreshing.) Pour the dressing over the vegetables, toss to coat, and eat the entire bowl.

I adore cabbage, too, and it is delicious when roasted. Halve a cabbage from pole to pole and then cut it into segments that are around 1" wide at their widest, leaving a bit of the core attached to each segment so they don't fall apart. Transfer them to a baking sheet (the fallen-off leafy bits too!), drizzle olive oil over everything, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast at 400F for twenty minutes or so. The pieces get lovely and tender in the middle and delicious and crisp on the outside.

Another awesome thing about cabbage is that you can pretend it is linguine! Slice some cabbage into thin ribbons. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and put the cabbage in there, and let it blanch for a couple of minutes (you want it to just be tender). Drain it in a colander and run cold water over it for a minute. Then serve it with any pasta sauce you'd like. (I made an awesome sort of cabbage carbonara thing a few nights ago!)

Or or! Chop some almonds and toast them in a skillet, then remove them to a bowl for now. Add a splash of oil to the skillet, and once it's heated up, add your finely-sliced cabbage. Cook it to translucence, stirring occasionally. Then add sriracha! and stir it around, then add the almonds back in. This takes like five minutes to make and is delicious.

Cabbage doesn't get enough love. Love the cabbage. Just don't cook it so long that it turns mushy and smelly and you'll be fine.
posted by bewilderbeast at 11:47 AM on June 7, 2011 [4 favorites]

Just in case it hasn't been said quite enough yet, roasted vegetables are DELICIOUS. I am partial to the roast + lemon juice + Parmesan equation like in hermitosis's link.

For something different but delicious, this ratatouille is really good. And it's even good cold, which is nice in the summer. Eat with bread, pasta, grains, or a spoon. Whatever.
posted by grapesaresour at 12:18 PM on June 7, 2011

Dead simple vegetable recipes I have enjoyed in the past few days: roasted green beans, ribboned asparagus salad, roasted edamame.

Yes, do as everyone says and roast vegetables. So good. Also consider just cutting up a bunch of raw vegetables - carrots, red and yellow bell peppers, radishes, cucumbers, whatever - and enjoying them with some hummus.
posted by illenion at 12:26 PM on June 7, 2011

Since it doesn't look like anyone's posted it yet, I'll point you to 101 Cookbooks, which has great seasonal veg recipes.

I would also say that almost every vegetable I've ever roasted has been amazing. Asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, fennel, you name it. And leafy greens, the same thing but with braising instead of roasting.
posted by padraigin at 12:30 PM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Ooh, padraigin reminded me: "roasting" leafy greens yields tasty chips: kale chips, spinach chips.
posted by illenion at 12:40 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mark Bittman's books (How to Cook Everything and How To Cook Everything Vegetarian) have some great basics. There's a lot of "here's this vegetable, here's what makes it special, here's some simple stuff to do with it, here's some cooler stuff you can do".

Everyone recommending asparagus is DEAD ON. Gently roasted or grilled asparagus with a poached egg on top is so good and oh man am i hungry after reading this thread.
posted by frankdrebin at 12:41 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

This will change your mind about broccoli. No, really. It's a very simple, straightforward way of preparing it, which just so happens to be addictively edible.

No, no, this will. I think I have re-linked to it in AskMe a couple times before, because it is just that awesome. (Steamed broccoli with a garlic-soy-vinegar-cashew sauce from another thread)
posted by whatzit at 12:43 PM on June 7, 2011

Butter. Fat and salt makes food taste good, and vegetables are no exception. I realise it's unfashionable nowadays, but, butter. Certainly you can roast them in butter -- also saute. I mean, look what it does to corn; there's no getting away from the fact that butter makes vegetables better.

This goes double if you have a pretty bland Western palate. If you are into basic eggs, burgers, potatoes, etc, I dunno if you're going to suddenly go all wild for cumin-ized olive oil'ed stuff. But a good fresh veg, not overcooked, and buttered is a good simple side. Leave the extensive fiddles for drab midwinter produce; if it's fresh and good, don't rush to hide it in spice.

Also, hollandaise. Sauce!
posted by kmennie at 12:54 PM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Fresh spinach (more than you think you will need). If it's baby spinach, rinse it and dry it; if it's grown-up spinach, pull out the stems and chop into large chunks.

Finely mince three or four cloves of garlic.

Heat a saute pan. Add somewhat less than a tablespoon of olive oil. Heat until the oil runs freely when the pan is tilted. Add the garlic and a pinch of salt; saute on medium-low until fragrant (about 30 secs). Add spinach. Cook, stirring, until it turns brighter green and is soft (much sooner than you would expect). Eat.

If I could afford it, I would probably go through five or six pounds of spinach every week.
posted by Frowner at 12:57 PM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Also, that spinach recipe above works for any dark leafy green (kale, for instance) and is really good with a fried egg on top, if you want it to feel like a full meal. You can add a little sliced onion to the oil after sauteeing the garlic (slice it, instead of mincing it and remove it so it doesn't burn while you cook the onion--return the garlic to the pan before adding the greens).
posted by crush-onastick at 1:02 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Brussels sprouts, roasted with yams and carrots and kale under a roast chicken. Brussels sprouts panfried with nutmeg.

Brussels sprouts with bacon.

Brussels sprouts!
posted by rdc at 1:38 PM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Green beans: Steam five minutes, until bright bright green. Throw in a bowl; toss with soy sauce and dark sesame oil and maybe some sesame seeds. Throw the bowl in the fridge and let the dressing soak in a little. Eat cold. Crunchy fatty salty savory delicious.
posted by clavicle at 1:50 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding brussels sprouts. Roast them—they are tiny balls of deliciousness.

Also, okra:
Fats Kaplin's peasant style okra*

Brown cloves (3 cloves minced) of garlic in oil (enough to cover the bottom of the pan; you may want to use a little water so the garlic doesn't burn). When quite brown add a few pinches of salt, then the diced okra (1 pound), halved or quartered. Stir fry a few minutes. Add a small splash of water, put lid on pan, turn heat down low for a few minutes. Until done.....meaning the texture you like.
*Fats is my uncle.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:08 PM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Steam baby carrots until tender, then douse with rice wine vinegar. These are good hot or cold.

Sour cream cucumbers: there are a ton of recipes when you Google for this recipe but this one is pretty close to what my grandparents used.

Nthing roasted veggies. I especially like turnips and parsnips roasted... they are absolutely delicious. Roasted green beans are really good too. I'll make a big pan and eat it all up.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:00 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cauliflower cheese!

Steam a whole cauliflower. Put it in a baking dish. Cover in cheese sauce (just butter/flour/cheese), (possibly grating a touch of parmesan on top). Bake until golden brown.
posted by pompomtom at 4:27 PM on June 7, 2011

Not a recipe, but for "eat more/new veggies" motivation, think about joining a CSA. You get a box of produce each week, and then you have the adventure of figuring out what's inside and what to do with it.
posted by orangejenny at 4:43 PM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Another one from my grandpa. This one is best in the summer when you can get good tomatoes.

Marinated Vegetables
Ripe tomatoes
Vidalia onion
Yellow summer squash

Slice tomatoes & squashes into circles. Peel cucumber and cut into spears. Cut onion into thin rings, and slice celery thin. Arrange veggies attractively in a glass 9 x 13 dish. Top with a tasty vinegar and a bit of oil, sprinkle with herbs. Let marinate for several hours.

This one is mine:

Green Bean Soup

Amounts are approximate, I usually just throw in however much looks right.

A pound or so of fresh green beans with the ends snapped off
A large yellow onion, diced
Half a pound of ham cut into chunks
A couple of handfuls of red or yellow baby potatoes cut into bite-size chunks with the skins left on; or you can peel and cut up 3-4 medium white potatoes into bite-sized chunks.
Dried basil (or dried italian seasoning herbs)

Put everything in a big soup pot and add enough water to make a nice soup. Put a lid on the pot and boil the shit out of it. I'm serious. You want the green beans and potatoes to get very soft... the potatoes should kind of fall apart when you stab them with a fork. Season with salt to taste (it needs to be pretty salty, but taste first... sometimes it will already be fairly salty from the ham) and black pepper.

Smash up some of the potatoes in each bowl with a fork before serving. Serve with hunks of good buttered bread for dipping. This soup is even better the next day... it thickens up slightly and the flavors blend nicely.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:54 PM on June 7, 2011

I can't think of a recipe off the top of my head, but I use Barbara Kafka's Vegetable Love a lot when it comes to cooking veggies. The recipes are sorted by vegetable, which is pretty neat, and are pretty straightforward. And you can get it used for just $1!
posted by Bearded Dave at 5:06 PM on June 7, 2011

Gotta agree with hermitosis. For my husband and me, that recipe is what changed broccoli from "ugh, the kitchen smells like farts" to "let's just have a big bowl of broccoli for dinner"
posted by dogmom at 6:52 PM on June 7, 2011

Nthing roasting. I made this last night and I cannot wait to have my leftovers for lunch:

Make cous cous according to directions. It's as easy as boiling water, honest.

Chop up into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces the following:
- zucchini
- red onion
- red bell pepper
- small eggplant
- couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes
- chilli pepper (take out the seeds)
- smashed up cloves of garlic
- halloumi cheese

Coat everything EXCEPT the halloumi cheese evenly with olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Set to roast 375-400. Toss the stuff around every 10-15 mins or so.

When it starts to get browny toss in the halloumi cheese and let it go for another 10 mins.

Toss all that with the cous cous and the secret is to add harissa sauce to the mix.

Every mouthful is a new adventure but you can also be a bit more picky and try each different cube of veggie. YUMMMMM!
posted by like_neon at 12:48 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cauliflower Steak.
Google this, and you'll find many variations. Curried is great.
Growing up, most of the veggies on my plate were out of a can. I swore I'd never eat spinach, or asparagus again; a vow I'm happy to say I didn't keep.
posted by JABof72 at 3:58 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

chopped or shaved raw fennel salads with fruit (usually apple or pear) and walnuts and celery, maybe dried fruit like cranberries, really bring out the addictive gently licorice flavors and crispy refreshing crunch of the veggie. cook's illustrated has my favorite version, but alice waters, orangette, mollie katzen's versions all abound online too.

agreed about roasting, particularly for cauliflower, broccoli, kale, shallots, whole bulbs of garlic low n' slow 'til they melt into gold, and brussels sprouts. the depth of flavor is remarkable where roots are concerned.

my husband didn't like beets at all until he had real, savory, rich winter-time borscht, the kind full of chicken stock and chicken fat. that sounds contradictory for your purposes i know but the animal richness dances perfectly with the earthy minerality only beets have.

in a similar vein, i've decided beet greens and swiss chard both do best when cooked with rich dairy and eggs--the unique and mysterious astringency and soil-like film/mouth feel they provide matches really well with a backdrop of silky rich egg binder, a skosh of cream, maybe a bit of bacon or pork fat. top with shredded cheese even. there's recipes online where you take these things, stick 'em in a baking dish, and cook in the oven til you've a gooey mess that tastes and smells like heaven.

not a vegetable, but deborah madison's recipe for plum soup with cinnamon and other spices, and a tiny bit of orange flower water, is the finest way to appreciate plums i know of besides original plum torte as popularized by nyt and the splendid table. normally i don't even go in for cold fruit soups either.

orangette is my favorite food blog and aside from baking she is totally a master at this sort of singular and simple, pure vegetable love. might want to check it out. none of her recipes are difficult.
posted by ifjuly at 9:33 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

You can make mashed cauliflower that tastes a lot like mashed potatoes: cut up a head of cauliflower, removing leaves and the core, into small or medium florets. Boil until soft. Drain very well. Mash coarsely. Add a little butter and half and half or milk, a little bit at a time. Stir. Whip with a hand blender. Season with salt and pepper. Fool your children/guests!
posted by theredpen at 11:25 AM on June 8, 2011

Roasted cauliflower has changed my entire attitude toward cauliflower.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 F. Start with a head of cauliflower, cut into roughly equal sized chunks. Take half of an onion, peel it, and cut into large slices. Mince a couple of garlic cloves. Toss with salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of olive oil, and spread them all out on a cookie sheet or in the bottom of metal pan. Roast for about a half hour, stirring occasionally, until it's tender and turning crispy brown on the outside.

You can add some Indian spices for a delicious curried cauliflower: ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, and cayenne. To make it extra special, add a few tablespoons of chopped cashews toward the end.

Another good option is fresh squeezed lemon juice and fresh-shredded parmesan cheese. If you put the cheese on a few minutes before it's done roasting, it will get all melty and browned. To make this one extra special, top with a poached egg.
posted by bookish at 5:18 PM on June 9, 2011

I have been reading the food/cooking blog Orangette for a while and I really like the recipes that she shares. Even though I was a vegetarian for seven years AND worked in a food co-op, there are many veggies that I just never fell in love with until I tried them in one of Molly's recipes. Not all of them are quick recipes and some of them take hours (but are worth it). But she does also like to share quick and easy recipes so snoop around for them.

Some of my favorites are Boiled Kale with Fried Egg, Peas and Prosciutto, Savoy Cabbage Gratin and the super quick and easy Chickpea Salad with Lemon and Parmesan.

To read her blog - http://orangette.blogspot.com/
To see a list of her featured recipes indexed by type - http://recipesorangette.blogspot.com/

One other tip I would suggest is to make assignments for yourself. Every month or so I decide to give myself a challenge and pick a new veggie or protein, find a recipe on-line that has good reviews and try it out. It's a good way to experiment! Also, if you shop at farmer's markets you will end up with better quality produce that tastes better and often the vendors can give you hints on good ways to prepare the veggies.

I also choose the veggie side that I'm less familiar with when offered one with my meal at a restaurant, as a way to taste something unfamilar and give it a try.

Good luck!
posted by dottiechang at 12:25 PM on June 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you're looking for quick-and-dirty food, I got somewhat addicted to a raw(ish) carrot and beet pasta:

1) Boil pasta. I like whole wheat rotini, but that's just me.
2) Grate a carrot and a beet (or two). I aim for about 2/3 pasta to 1/3 veggies by weight.
3) Drain pasta
4) Toss pasta with olive oil, grated veggies, and parmesan

posted by anthill at 8:33 PM on June 12, 2011

hermitosis: This will change your mind about broccoli. No, really. It's a very simple, straightforward way of preparing it, which just so happens to be addictively edible.

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt until I try this recipe, but I really enjoy many vegetables lightly roasted. ~350 degrees f, 10 minutes or more, depending on how thick the vegetable is. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. The drizzling can be tricky because too much means slippery food, but too little means oddly crispy food, so you could try tossing the vegetables in a bag with oil.

And yes, Brussels sprouts can be delicious (bacon can help, but isn't necessary).

If you're into brute force, you can try eating something until you don't mind it, or even like it. It sounds crazy, but it apparently worked for some college friends of mine. One summer, they decided to force themselves to eat all the vegetables they didn't like ask kids. By the end, they enjoyed it all (from what they said). One of the guys is a sous chef now, so I'm guessing it didn't drive him mad.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:16 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

And if this is available, wander through a farmer's market and try samples of fresh veggies. That alone might change your feelings about vegetables. It's not an option everywhere, but you might learn that veggies can have a lot more flavor and/or variety than you realized. I'm still in love with my first taste of a really fresh carrot. Still crunchy, but surprisingly juicy and flavorful.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:48 AM on June 13, 2011

Duck fat is the key gateway drug to get me to eat veggies. If you disguise it as delicious duck it is oh so much easier to develop a taste for the underlying vegetable substrate.

Duck fat and brocolli
Duck fat and asperagus
Duck fat and cauliflower
Duck fat and brussel sprouts.

It all works. Just use duck fat where other people suggest olive oil. Oh and over cook everything at first so you get more crunch and a bit less veggie taste. Then once you are over the inhibition you can start under cooking and learn to like the veggie tast.

I used to be a pure meat and potato guy but nowdays I regularly eat all those veggies with or without the duck fat but it was deffo the lubricating deliciousness of duck fat that let these things slide into the regular rotation.
posted by srboisvert at 11:38 AM on June 14, 2011

Have to second (or 23rd) hermitosis with this recipe. I just made this for 5 children, aged 4 to 12, and they all had seconds. At one point in the meal the mother of the 12 year old turned to him and sternly said, "You need to eat some of the vegetables." He protested that he'd already had 6 pieces. The father looked up in shock and said, "He NEVER eats broccoli!"
posted by Ashley801 at 4:48 PM on June 15, 2011

« Older restaurant experiences with seamlessweb?   |   What to eat on the run with morning workouts? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.