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August 30, 2011 1:26 PM   Subscribe

Give me your best simple vegetable recipes with only a few ingredients.

I'm looking for the simplest most delicious ways of preparing vegetables, some might be so simple that you don't even consider them a real recipe, something along the lines of "veggies + novel prep method + oil + spices". Feel free to mention stuff that seems obvious, since it might not be obvious to everyone reading (perfect baked potato), or the veggie-impaired. Bonus points for weird vegetables. I have a lot of ethnic markets nearby but haven't explored the vegetable aisles properly. I'm fine with animal products in the recipe.

Some examples would be:
- Japanese yams steamed with sage, pepper and butter
- Cauliflower with nutmeg, pepper, and butter
- Steamed carrots with ginger, toasted garlic cloves, and olive oil
- Black beans with toasted cumin, olive oil, and pepper
- Chopped Snow peas, radishes, rice vinegar, olive oil
posted by benzenedream to Food & Drink (54 answers total) 351 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Ever try roasted kale? It crunches like potato chips!
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:28 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Fresh Kale, or for a more robust flavour Collard Greens -

wash, chop, fry in butter/canola/olive oil with some garlic and a dash of good soy sauce. (lightly for Kale, quite a while for Collards).


also works for broccoli, swiss chard, spinach - but the spinach has to be very lightly fried.
posted by jb at 1:29 PM on August 30, 2011

Best answer: Pretty humdrum as far as ingredients go, but just the other day we made this:

- put some olive oil in a pan (we used a cast iron skillet)
- cut kernals off two ears of corn into the pan
- add 3 cloves garlic, chopped/minced/sliced
- add one jalpeno pepper, minced
- add salt and pepper
- cook
posted by LionIndex at 1:31 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Best Broccoli of Your Life. It doesn't quite live up to the hype, but it's dang good.
posted by supercres at 1:33 PM on August 30, 2011 [16 favorites]

Any vegetable (I've yet to find an exception) benefits from roasting: oven at high temp (450F or so), veg tossed in olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper, roasted til done. What's done? Depends on how you like it. Asparagus, carrots, broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, etc. All delicious.

Braised kale: couple bunches of kale, stems removed & leaves chopped. Heat some olive oil in a dutch oven on medium heat. Add chopped garlic, then the kale. Add some veg stock, red pepper flakes, kosher salt and black pepper. Cover for a couple minutes til done (again, depends on how you like it. I like it with a crunch.).
posted by cooker girl at 1:34 PM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

Alton Brown's Roasted Veggie Curry. Google it, but I use a recipe more like this than the one posted on the food network site.

(only I cheat and use curry mix)
posted by anti social order at 1:36 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cut butternut squash in halves or quarters and remove seeds. Put pieces in a casserole dish skin side down with maybe a quarter inch of water. Cover tightly, and put in over at 425 or so until soft when poked with a fork (45 minutes, maybe? Depends on the size of the pieces). Remove lid, bake until the flesh is dry and cracking a bit (or you fear for your pan).
posted by dilettante at 1:36 PM on August 30, 2011

I recommend Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. There's a separate section for each vegetable, and each one has recipes that seem so basic they might not even seem like "recipes." She also gives general advice for each vegetable (selecting, storing, cooking).

Almost any vegetable benefits from being sauteed in olive oil (with garlic), roasted in olive oil (again with garlic and also herbs/spices sprinkled on them), or grilled.
posted by John Cohen at 1:37 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cut cauliflower into florets. Toss with olive oil. Roast at 450 degrees for 20-40 minutes depending on how crunchy you like them. Or just paint a head of cauliflower with olive oil and do the same thing.

Cut cauliflower into florets. Mix 1/4 cup mayonnaise with curry powder. Coat the florets with the curry mayonnaise (I do this in a ziploc bag). Roast as above.

Cut cauliflower into florets. Blanch for 8-9 minutes, then dump into a gratin dish. Dump a can of tomatoes over it, toss to mix, sprinkle 1/2 cup of Parmesan over the top. Top with a tablespoon or so of bread crumbs, bake until bubbly.

apparently I'm on a cauliflower kick.
posted by KathrynT at 1:40 PM on August 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Fresh green beans (raw or blanched, your preference)
thinly sliced onion
thinly sliced radish
sprinkle of sliced almonds
fresh basil
Toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste
Taa daa!
posted by elendil71 at 1:43 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One I've been making a whole bunch this summer:

- Slice a bunch of zucchini and a bunch of summer squash into 1/4" circles.
- Dice up a few heads of garlic.
- Slice up an onion.
- Toss the preceding crap with some olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, spread your HAWT NAKED OILED VEG in a layer on said sheet.
- Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Broil for another 5 - 10 minutes, or until veg starts to brown in spots.

I serve this succulent mess on top of pasta with grated parmesan. It's SO FREAKING GOOD that I prefer it to the pasta itself - no mean feat.
posted by julthumbscrew at 1:45 PM on August 30, 2011 [9 favorites]

I've been doing asparagus or broccoli with olive oil, lemon juice, and kosher salt. The lemon juice adds a nice zing.
posted by ChuraChura at 1:51 PM on August 30, 2011

Best answer: Slow roasted balsamic turnips
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a oven-proof skillet melt 2 tablespoons of butter and sautee the turnips (cut in wedges, about one lb or so), turning once when browned. Remove to a plate, add 2 tablespoons of sugar and caramelize, about 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and cook until sugar is dissolved. Stir in 1 cup of stock, some thyme and add the turnip wedges. Bake until done, around 25 minutes.

Spinach and chickpeas
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet, fry 2 slices of cubed bread until golden brown. Add 3 garlic cloves thinly sliced, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, one pinch of red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 cans of drained chickpeas and 1/2 cup tomato sauce, stir. Add 1 lb spinach, washed and with water still clinging, cover and cook until spinach are wilted. Add 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika. Stir and serve.
posted by francesca too at 1:51 PM on August 30, 2011 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Protip: Take julthumbscrew's recipe BUT put a layer of tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes) down onto the pan first. Now throw down the other veg and cover with foil. Bake 'em up, toss with pasta etc. Amazing.
posted by AmandaA at 1:56 PM on August 30, 2011 [7 favorites]

Super-simple broccoli soup (I think I got this from a Gordon Ramsay show):

Olive oil (optional)

Boil broccoli in salted water very briefly (2-3 minutes), just long enough for it to get extremely bright green. Drain the broccoli, reserving the water. Put it in a blender. Blend with a bit of the water, adding more to achieve a nice, smooth soup consistency. Add more salt and fresh black pepper to taste. When serving, drizzle each bowl of soup with a bit of good olive oil.
posted by saladin at 1:59 PM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Cut cauliflower into florets. Fry in butter with pine nuts, turning very occasionally, until browned on a few sides. Add sliced garlic, cook 1 minute. Add miso paste, red pepper, and water; cover to finish cooking.
posted by novalis_dt at 2:01 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Beets Cockaigne*

roast beets

when beets are cool dress with
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)

toasted walnuts
blue cheese or Gorgonzola

*not really, but I Cockaigne is a sign of tried and true quality!
posted by vespabelle at 2:03 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Any vegetables from the Land of Cockaigne are ok with me.
posted by benzenedream at 2:06 PM on August 30, 2011

Best answer: Roasted or steamed beets (any variety) chopped and tossed with olive oil, lime juice and cilantro. Add avocado or queso fresco for added yum!

Also since our CSA sends green beans every week we just lightly steam (so still kind of crisp!y and toss with olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon. Salt and eat with our fingers!
posted by Swisstine at 2:06 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: accompanying images/words to a recipe very similar to Greg Nog's, but all on the skillet.

roasted chickpeas: "They're like wasabi peas - tiny, easy to eat, and addictive." and fifteen flavor combinations.

crisped leeks/leek chips: "They're not much more than sliced leeks, fried... the single best beer snack ever."

also, purple okinawa sweet potatoes steamed with a little bit of water inside a pressure cooker until the lid easily loosens. when they're steamed this way, they don't need anything else. perfectly moist and smooth and creaaamy.
posted by ilk at 2:09 PM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

Cut potatoes into big hunks (peel first, if you like) and boil until just tender. Let cool slightly, then combine with tomatoes cut in chunks, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped parsley. Fridge before eating.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 2:10 PM on August 30, 2011

i mean.. don't try to loosen the lid of a pressure cooker, dear god. my pressure cooker has a little indicator that lets me know when it's safe to open; follow your pressure cooker's lead.
posted by ilk at 2:11 PM on August 30, 2011

Best answer: Sugar snap peas! Blanch them in their pods for a couple of minutes in salted boiling water until they're crisp-tender. Drain, put in a bowl. Throw some butter, salt, and pepper in there and toss until all the peas are coated. A teensy bit of lemon juice is sometimes good too, but not necessary. Eat as a side dish or by hand. Mmm, pea pods.

To fancy 'em up, I saute some mushrooms in a pan and toss them with the pea pods.
posted by bedhead at 2:12 PM on August 30, 2011

Cook pasta (ziti or penne is good, cheese tortellini are killer), then drain and coat with pesto, and add a splash of milk or cream, chopped fresh tomatoes and sauteed zucchini.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 2:12 PM on August 30, 2011

Best answer: Toss some cauliflower florets with olive oil, marjoram, and a little salt. Roast for 15-20 minutes, add balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese. Roast for about 5 minutes more.

Heat golden raisins, pine nuts and garlic in some olive oil until fragrant. Throw in a bag of spinach and cook until just wilted. Remove from heat and add some balsamic vinegar, a little salt, and some parmesan cheese.
posted by amarynth at 2:25 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For the complete opposite of crisp-cooked vegetables, I really love and was surprised by the "long-cooked broccoli" from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Cooking. It is super easy and not anything I would have thought of on my own.

Basically you braise the broccoli unto death with garlic, olive oil, and a little hot pepper, until it collapses into a puree, top with lemon juice and zest (crucial) and parmesan cheese (optional), and eat it as a side or on top of pasta or a pilaf or whatever. It's not pretty but it's very good.

About a pound and a half of broccoli (two small bunches or one large one)
3-4 T. olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
A fat pinch of dried red pepper flakes
A good sprinkling of salt
1 c. water
Juice and grated zest of one lemon
Grated parmesan or pecorino cheese (optional)

1. Cut/break the broccoli heads into small florets. Trim the ends off the stems, then peel the stems and cut into 1/4" slices.

2. Take a nice heavy pan with a lid and heat the oil over a medium flame. After a moment, add the broccoli, garlic, red pepper, and salt, and saute for a few minutes. Then add the water and bring to a boil.

3. Turn the heat to very low and cover the pan. Cook for about half an hour or forty minutes. The broccoli should be very very tender, indeed falling apart. Uncover and stir vigorously to break everything up into a coarse puree, as pictured. If the puree seems too wet, turn up the heat for a couple of minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and zest and serve, with grated cheese if you want it.
posted by redfoxtail at 2:26 PM on August 30, 2011 [12 favorites]

Best answer: julienne cabbage
soften briefly in a pan with a knob of butter and some garlic
add several glugs of stock, simmer until cabbage is almost done
add glug of balsamic, reduce liquid until the cabbage is glazed
posted by wayward vagabond at 2:29 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Steam or boil a big bunch of fresh green beans. Cool em off, then toss with olive oil, 1 clove minced fresh garlic, lemon juice, black pepper, and parmesian cheese. Serve room temperature or cold from the fridge.
posted by shortyJBot at 2:36 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Cut butternut squash in halves or quarters and remove seeds. Put pieces in a casserole dish skin side down with maybe a quarter inch of water. Cover tightly, and put in over at 425 or so until soft when poked with a fork (45 minutes, maybe? Depends on the size of the pieces). Remove lid, bake until the flesh is dry and cracking a bit (or you fear for your pan).

This, only 15- 20 minutes before it's done, put goat cheese on them and then finish cooking them.

Even better if you want to add parmesan and parsley and any other fresh herbs you have laying around.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:48 PM on August 30, 2011

I tried making succotash this weekend, but I substituted edamame for lima beans per a friend's suggestion. Here's what I did:

Sawed off the kernels from 3 ears of corn, sliced open a bag of frozen edamame, halved some grape tomatoes, sliced up one red pepper, dumped everything into a skillet with a bit of olive oil and sauteed it for 5 minutes. Added salt, pepper, and slivers of green onion. Done. Serve chilled.
posted by HotPatatta at 3:21 PM on August 30, 2011

Best answer: roasted sweet potatoes with olive oil and rosemary OR coconut oil and nutmeg. any combination thereof.

carrots fried with butter, sugar, and cinnamon
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 3:32 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Braised fennel.

Thickly slice a bulb (or two!) of fennel, fry it in pot in olive oil under medium high heat until it starts to brown.

Pour in about 100-150mls sparkling mineral water per bulb, turn the heat to low, and pop the lid on. Cook for 10-20 minutes depending on the amount of fennel.

Take the lid off and boil off any remaining mineral water. Garnish with sprigs of fennel from the top of the bulb.
posted by smoke at 3:36 PM on August 30, 2011

Wilt spinach (or any greens, really) in olive oil. Add salt and pepper and some sort of acid (lemon juice, vinegar).

Prepare a basic vinaigrette (oil and vinegar at a 2:1 to 3:1 ratio depending on your taste, plus salt and pepper. Add some minced shallots if you want to get fancy.) Dump over sliced tomatoes or blanched green beans. Leave to marinade for 30 minutes or so.
posted by Gilbert at 3:55 PM on August 30, 2011

Best answer: Sauté a sliced onion until translucent in a mixture of butter and olive oil. Add a few handfuls of shredded cabbage and a large pinch of whole caraway seeds; sauté until the cabbage is softened and slightly browned. Salt and pepper to taste. Eat as a side dish or by itself; it sounds very humble, but it's delicious.
posted by hot soup girl at 4:02 PM on August 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

Peel an eggplant. Slice into half inch slices. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, basil. Open a tube of polenta. Slice into half inch slices. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, basil. (you want the same number of slices of eggplant and polenta). Roast polenta and eggplant at 375ish for 15ish minutes. Eggplant should end up soft. Make stacks of polenta, eggplant, and slices/hunks of mozzarella. Put 5-minute tomato sauce on top.

5-minute tomato sauce:
Chop an onion. Saute in olive oil for about three minutes with some garlic. Add a can of crushed tomatoes, with salt, pepper, and basil. Simmer for a couple minutes.
posted by freshwater at 4:03 PM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Bake a couple sweet potatoes. Saute a couple sliced leeks. Cut the sweet potatoes in half. Put leeks on top, then crumble some blue cheese over the whole mess. Broil for a minute or so. To die for.
posted by freshwater at 4:05 PM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Hot sauce/dip/salsa:
-8 cherry tomatoes
-1 clove of garlic
-1 heaping teaspoon of chili paste
-obliterate with immersion blender

I've been eating this on everything lately. Incredible as a dip for grilled-cheese sandwiches.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 4:09 PM on August 30, 2011

Best answer: Baked sweet potato, topped with a little greek yogurt mixed with chipotle in adobo.

Or, golf-ball-sized Japanese turnips (the white ones), either steamed until tender or roasted in a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Both finished products are so sweet and juicy that you don't need to add a thing.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:17 PM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm assuming this is the chipotle in adobo mentioned above.
posted by benzenedream at 4:51 PM on August 30, 2011

Caprese Salads are fantastic and super easy. Just need tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil leaves and balsamic vinaigrette.

Slice the mozzarella and tomatoes. Stack tomatoes on top of mozzarella, top with basil leaf. Season with balsamic (and salt/pepper if you wish).

For a fun twist or side dish instead of appetizer, you can make an iceberg lettuce salad using the same fundamental idea, except I like to dice the tomatoes, use shredded mozzarella and maybe add some croutons.
posted by erstwhile at 4:58 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

actually if you have awesome tomatos, you can skip the vinaigrette. Less than awesome tomatoes- a bit of excellent olive oil. Okay tomatos- use the vinaigrette. YSeasonMV.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:00 PM on August 30, 2011

I know some people have already mentioned kale, but I want to say that it is also delicious steamed and then tossed with olive oil, sea salt and yeast flakes.
posted by janepanic at 5:28 PM on August 30, 2011

Best answer: Cauliflower steaks. I usually leave off the puree part, but it sounds good too!
posted by Fiorentina97 at 5:58 PM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

Hoppin John [scroll down].
posted by unliteral at 6:48 PM on August 30, 2011

Best answer: Grate equal parts of cooked beetroot (i.e. the vacuum packed stuff you get at the supermarket) and raw carrot, throw in some toasted sunflower seeds (30 secs in the frypan), dress with equal parts olive oil and red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar and you're good to go. Great as a BBQ salad, just as good with hummous in a pitta / wrap, or with fish etc. Although I also eat it by itself too...
posted by finding.perdita at 6:56 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

This spicy broccoli salad is delicious.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 8:29 PM on August 30, 2011

Super-flexible sweet potato hash has been my go-to comfort food dish for the past few weeks:

You'll need:

- onion, diced
- sweet potato, grated (i've also added regular potatoes and/or beets to the hash as well. Add whatever you want. It's super-flexible!)
- ground cumin
- salt n' peppa
- fresh rosemary, cilantro, or basil
- one egg, poached
- lemon juice

Saute onions in butter (Use olive oil if you're trying to be health-conscious. Use ghee if you want it to taste amazing). While you're working on your onions, get a pot of water ready to poach your egg. Bring the water to boiling, then take it down to a simmer.

When golden brown, add in grated sweet potato/potato/beets/whatever. Season with cumin, salt, and pepper. Fry until hash is sufficiently crispy. Add in your herb of choice. Stick it on a plate. Poach your egg in the water, place it on top of the hash. Add a squeeze of lemon juice.

Crazy delicious.
posted by chara at 7:17 AM on August 31, 2011 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Cumin's great with carrots too. I like the quasi-Indian-ish combination of whole cumin, mustard and fennel seeds. Fry them up in oil or ghee until the mustard seeds start to pop, and then dump it all over a bowl of steamed carrots. (You could run them through a coffee grinder if you wanted, but I just leave them whole. They add a nice sort of nutty crunch.)

Has anyone mentioned creamed spinach? Oh man. You want creamed spinach. Some recipes are classic for a reason. Don't dick around making a white sauce if you want something simple. Just sauté down your spinach leaves, maybe with some chopped white onion, and add a small glug of real heavy cream towards the end. Season with a little nutmeg and maybe some black pepper. You can do other greens this way, kale or collards say, if you don't mind the longer cooking time.

For cabbage my advice isn't even really a recipe, it's just a technique: high, dry direct heat. Get a really big wide pan going nice and hot with some oil in the bottom, dump in shredded cabbage and chopped onions, and give it a stir just occasionally so that everything gets good and brown along the edges. It comes out so sweet you can feed it to people who think they hate cabbage. Season it however you want — I usually just do salt and black pepper. Goes great on buttered egg noodles if you're not scared of fat and carbs, but it also goes great on its own.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:18 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: oh, how could i forget this tomato sauce by marcela hazan. smitten kitchen just published a post that referenced that sauce today, so i was reminded. it's simply a can of tomatoes, an onion, and some butter, simmered together. TRUST.
posted by ilk at 10:55 AM on August 31, 2011 [55 favorites]

Best answer: - raw beet matchsticks (or grated) with dill, mustard, honey
- slow roasted tomato halves topped in the last 5 mins with parmesan or pesto
- roast broccoli, lemon, hot peppers in spaghetti
- improve any mashed potatoes by adding rutabaga, or a kohlrabi, or a celery root
- steamed asparagus with balsamic, melted butter, pine nuts
- steamed, chilled asparagus with mustard / yogurt sauce
- cucumbers marinated in cider vingar, water, sugar, and dill
- quickly broiled eggplant slices brushed with mayo and dredged in parmesan
- fresh herbs and spaghetti
- sauteed radishes with butter (they're sweet!)
- roasted then chilled peppers with olive oil/red wine vinegar with mustard dressing
- tomatoes, shallots, cilantro, and 1 seeded serrano pepper with oil/vinegar
- broiled slices of zucchini tossed with a mint, cumin, lemon, olive oil vinaigrette
- roughly blend tomatoes, cucumbers, shallots, garlic - gazpacho
- stir swiss chard into the water with the last minute's cooking of spaghetti

Also, see Bittman's 101 salads of summer:
posted by xammerboy at 12:25 PM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

(That Marcella Hazan tomato sauce is just ludicrously good. Sounds like it couldn't possibly be all that, but it's all that.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:48 PM on August 31, 2011

Best answer: Curried parsnip soup. If you don't own an immersion blender, this dish alone is sufficient reason to get one.
posted by Iridic at 2:51 PM on August 31, 2011

Best answer: Why hasn't anyone mentioned this yet? Bok choy, with garlic and oyster sauce (and, you know, salt and pepper, of course) form your basic Chinese restaurant side dish. Unbelievably simple, but oh-so-yummy.
posted by pimli at 6:48 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

okra, small can of diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, pinch sugar. saute okra in olive oil til bright and slightly tender but still with tooth, less than 5 minutes. remove, put red pepper flakes (and garlic if your tomatoes aren't spiced or whatever) in the same pan for a minute to release fragrance. add tomatoes and sugar til just simmering and a tad thickened, about 2 minutes. dump okra back in, and if you're feeling fancy garnish with fresh basil. whole thing takes less than 10 minutes and no chopping unless you're up for it (garlic, basil). and no mushy pods, just crisp-tender tangy yummy okra.
posted by ifjuly at 8:18 AM on September 1, 2011

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