Decadent veggies: what is your best recipe?
December 21, 2013 1:15 PM   Subscribe

The boyfriend and I will be attending a holiday dinner with his brother, who professes to hate all plant-based food except grains, rice, and potatoes. He has thrown down the gauntlet and asked us all to produce a vegetable based dish that he will actually enjoy. Please save us from defeat by sharing your most delicious vegetable and fruit-based dishes. Main meals, side dishes, appetizers, and desserts all welcome, and the dish can include other food groups, as long as the fruit or vegetable is prominent.
posted by rpfields to Food & Drink (47 answers total) 181 users marked this as a favorite
I am eating this unstuffed peppers recipe right now. I suggest adding more chili powder than the recipe calls for.
posted by asperity at 1:24 PM on December 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Couple ideas off the top of my head:

- cauliflower roasted with cocoa powder. Optionally turn it into a soup.

- brussels sprouts roasted with honey and chili flake, then tossed with bacon
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:26 PM on December 21, 2013

This roasted cauliflower is ridiculously good, and in my experience, even the pickiest vegetable haters love it.

It's great just on its own, but I'll also serve it with ragouts, curries, or daal to make a meal.
posted by ernielundquist at 1:26 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Parmigiana is a dish most meat lovers will enjoy. I'd suggest you try it out at home before challenging the brother, because once I had it at a restaurant, and they served it in a very elegant manner, which made it even more mmmmmm. Maybe you could develop your own serving style
posted by mumimor at 1:31 PM on December 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

I like Bittman's glazed carrots, but if you want proper decadence, up the butter and add a tablespoon of brown sugar when you add the water. If your brother likes spicy things, add a touch of cayenne as well.
posted by tau_ceti at 1:32 PM on December 21, 2013

Here's another one Maybe you don't need to be as cheap on the oil as the author here...
posted by mumimor at 1:37 PM on December 21, 2013

This is hands down one of my favourite dishes. Everyone I have made these for loves them.
posted by sadtomato at 1:43 PM on December 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

Burgundy mushrooms - Pioneer Woman has a good recipe.
posted by dorey_oh at 1:44 PM on December 21, 2013

Best answer: The best broccoli of your life. Not quite like biting into a steak, as the author suggests, but dang good.
posted by supercres at 1:44 PM on December 21, 2013 [22 favorites]

This is currently my favorite Brussels sprouts recipe ever. I used to think I didn't like Brussels sprouts. Turns out I don't like boiled, overcooked Brussels sprouts. I didn't have the shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice blend), so I Googled and got the closest approximation to the seven spices I could find (and maybe omitted a few, I don't remember exactly what I put in there...) and it was still delicious. (Oh, and I can also vouch for The Best Broccoli of Your Life. I found that recipe here on one of those "help me eat vegetables" threads and it really is the best.)
posted by Weeping_angel at 1:49 PM on December 21, 2013

I came to post that best broccoli recipe. Do not skimp on the lemon and parmesan, and do not be afraid of browning. I make mine about 30 seconds shy of too burnt to chew.

Another one is to make the cheesiest gooey-est macaroni and cheese recipe you like, but lose half or more of the cooked macaroni and replace it with diced cauliflower that has been roasted in a little oil and salt at about 400 for 20 minutes.

Roasted portabello mushrooms parmigiana.

Twice-baked creamed cauliflower with butter, cream cheese, and sour cream.

Bacon-wrapped butternut squash bites, which is barely even fair, as it's essentially candy.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:57 PM on December 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

This roasted veggie bowl with miso sauce is no joke.

This recipe has it made with sweet potatoes, but you could dump that sauce on any roasted green thing, and it would be amazing.
posted by ulfberht at 2:05 PM on December 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

Carrot souffle! (Use butter, not margarine.)
posted by tomboko at 2:12 PM on December 21, 2013

Fresh grated ginger, olive oil and a splash of soya sauce + any green vegetable = heaven.

The more the oil, the more the taste.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:13 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Roast cauliflower and leeks with olive oil and salt and ground pepper. Add parmesan cheese halfway through. Take out when cheese has melted, turned golden brown, and gotten a tiny bit crunchy.
posted by studioaudience at 2:16 PM on December 21, 2013

This Roasted whole cauliflower with whipped goat cheese is so good I've made it twice in the past ten days. Poached in a spiced wine broth and then pop in the oven. Mmmmmmm.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 2:19 PM on December 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

I've had great success with this kale and brussels sprout salad. My husband loves it and claims to hate kale.

I've also made the warm brussels sprout salad quite a few times (I leave out the egg and always forget to add the croutons although I do make them). EVERYONE loves it. It's a lot of work to peel all the leaves off the sprouts but I don't like it nearly as much with shredded sprouts. The photo looks unappetizing - it doesn't do the salad justice.

In the root veggie family, you could do a parsnip puree that he would have a hard time objecting to. Cauliflower puree is nice too - my trick is to first not overcook it (al dente is fine) and then to wrap it in a towel for a couple minutes after steaming to absorb the extra water. This keeps the puree from getting too thin.
posted by tealcake at 2:32 PM on December 21, 2013

A take on gaspode's brussels: Screaming Heads.
posted by oflinkey at 2:37 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Your boyfriend's brother is a lot like my brother-in-law! I have a recipe, passed down to me, that is not grudgingly accepted but instead warmly embraced by vegetable haters. And it is SQUASH! Everyone (brother-in-law included, and even me who likes vegetables but is iffy on squash) loves it. Let me tell you right now that this is not health food.... From my family to yours, I give you:

Baked Squash Casserole
2 lb. yellow squash (aka summer squash)
3 Tablespoons chopped onion
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
2 teaspoons parsley flakes
salt and pepper
1/2 cup melted margarine (or butter)
2 cups cracker crumbs (Saltines or similar crackers are what we use)

Slice squash into 1/2-inch pieces. Boil 3 minutes, until tender. Drain; add onion, eggs, and seasonings. Mix until well blended. Pour into a 1-quart buttered casserole dish.

Mix butter and crumbs; sprinkle over squash. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes, until browned.

Serves 6. Or less!
posted by Houstonian at 2:47 PM on December 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

Pumpkin pie, all the fruit and berry pies, raisin bread, vegetable soup, jams and jellies, all the excellent recipes listed above - the fruit/vegetable category must include things he has eaten without thinking of the ingredients.
posted by Cranberry at 2:48 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Spinach Maria. I'm on my cello phone and can't figure out how to link to the recipe but go to and search for calhouns spinach Maria. Spinach and 3cheeses. Pants wetting good.
posted by I'm Brian and so's my wife! at 3:32 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've converted Brussels sprouts-haters using the caramelized tofu with Brussels sprouts recipe from 101 Cookbooks.
posted by Lexica at 3:58 PM on December 21, 2013

Best answer: Miso creamed kale as a side.

Eggplant meatballs as an appetizer or a main dish.
posted by topophilia at 4:01 PM on December 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

There have been other suggestions that heavily involve carrots and butter. To me that's basically carrot soup with is heavenly. I have made variations of this
posted by mce at 4:19 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I also came to recomment the best broccoli of your life. I have converted a broccoli-hater with it. You can also make it half/half broccoli and cauliflower, that's nice too.
posted by snorkmaiden at 5:09 PM on December 21, 2013

Just made the "best broccoli" for the first time since I saw it rapidly accumulating favorites in this thread. I'd give it a B+ or A-, and I have fairly high standards for veggie dishes. It's really simple too - so simple you could maybe even make another veggie dish as backup! (Also if your holiday traditions are anything like mine you may have trouble cranking the oven to such a high temp if there's some animal slowly roasting in there.)
posted by antonymous at 5:13 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Slow-cooker eggplant parmesan. Use this recipe but replace the feta with slices of mozzarella cheese on each layer of eggplant.

Pan fry some fresh green beans with olive oil, garlic and soy sauce.
posted by amapolaroja at 5:40 PM on December 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Came in to suggest the roasted broccoli too. It really is quite good. This is the only food my teenaged stepdaughter requests that I make for her; she will even make it herself. In the currency of teenagers, this is high praise in my household.
posted by heathergirl at 5:42 PM on December 21, 2013

I have this amazing green bean casserole. I brought it to a department potluck, and ten minutes in there was nothing left but a bit stuck to the spoon. At fifteen minutes, that was gone too.

I did not originally come up with this recipe, but I've forgotten where I got it from.

Gorgonzola Green Bean Casserole
2 lbs green beans, washed and snapped to 1"
1/2 lb white mushrooms, finely chopped
1 oz slivered almonds
6 slices bacon
4 green onions, thinly sliced whites and greens
2 1/2 TBSP flour
3 TBSP bacon grease
1 pint heavy cream
5-6 oz Gorgonzola or bleu cheese
4 oz grated Parmesan
1 can fried onions (6 oz)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch green beans 5-6 minutes. Spray a 13x9 pan. Place green beans, mushrooms, and almonds in a large bowl.

In a large skillet, cook bacon until crispy. Drain and return 3 TBSP of grease to the pan. Chop bacon and set aside.

Add flour to the bacon drippings and whisk over medium heat until it forms a smooth brown paste. Whisk in cream and heat just until the edges start to bubble. Add Gorgonzola, bacon, and green onions. Let cheese melt, but do not boil sauce.

Pour sauce over green beans. Stir well and pour into the baking dish. Add Parmesan and fried onions and bake in the oven until the top is brown and crispy. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

The casserole will set after you remove it from the oven-it is normal if seems a little runny right out of the oven.

MAKE AHEAD: Follow direction up to putting casserole into the oven. Cover with foil until ready to serve. Warm in the oven 20-30 minutes until hot. Top with Parmesan and
posted by Gneisskate at 6:53 PM on December 21, 2013 [9 favorites]

I am dubious about some of the offerings here, as they are recipes that are clearly delicious veg recipes for people who mostly like veg in the first place. I am of the view that more cheating is needed. DEEP FRYING is needed. Vegetable pakoras? Vegetable tempura?
posted by kmennie at 8:23 PM on December 21, 2013 [8 favorites]

I see there's already a green bean casserole recipe above, but I came in to recommend this one from Smitten Kitchen. So, so good; I had seconds, then thirds. Then fourths.
posted by Empidonax at 11:05 PM on December 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Orangette's brussels sprouts (braised in cream) are astonishingly good. I add a tiny bit of freshly grated nutmeg, but this recipe is otherwise perfect, in addition to being super easy.
posted by dizziest at 7:40 AM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Steamed green beans coated in butter, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese. Or steamed green beans coated in butter, garlic powder and slivered almonds.

There are a lot of veg recipes upthread that sound great to me, but i feel like bitter vegetables like brussels sprouts or kale are not the way to to veg-haters heart. Carrots, green beans, squash: these are beginner vegetables, and they are your friends.
posted by Kololo at 8:14 AM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's not the season, but . . .
Shucked and boiled in water, sweet corn is edible and nutritious; roasted in the husk in the hottest possible oven for forty minutes, shucked at the table, and buttered and salted, nothing else, it is ambrosia.
--Rex Stout, "Murder is Corny"

Also, try a recipe I found for caramelized onions: Fill your Crock-Pot up to about three-quarters full with chopped onions, then throw in a stick of butter. Put it on high until the butter melts, then stir, then put it on low for another 20-24 hours. Your Crock-Pot will have about a quarter of the volume of onions you started with, they will be a rich mahogany brown, and your kitchen will smell beautiful.
posted by tellumo at 8:48 AM on December 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

I have to disagree with some of the suggestions. While I love them both, brussels sprouts and broccoli are STINKY and they taste like stinky to someone who doesn't like vegetables. Go with someone more neutral tasting. Something that can be cooked with cheese or something else that he likes. Sorry I don't have a specific recipe to suggest, but I was just surprised by all the Brussels sprout suggestions. Those are like a level 9 vegetable, not a vegetable-101.
posted by at 8:57 AM on December 22, 2013 [2 favorites] has a point - in my experience, people who hate vegs will hate anything cabbage the most. In fact, cauliflower, brussels sprouts or broccoli might be the very source of their antagonism.
Thinking of the vegetable-haters I've known, apart from the dishes I posted above, I remember ratatouille being a success for some. Also dishes with a lot of vegetable but still a little meat: BLT sandwiches, Cesar salad, salad Nicoise, soups and stews with some meat and a lot of vegetables. A salad with endive, pink grapefruit, pistachios and a vinaigrette with a tiny amount of sugar in it was a surprising success with someone who only had salads out of duty. That person actually gradually transitioned into being a vegetable lover!

A mash of celeriac root, potato, garlic and a lot of parsley, made with butter and salted to taste is a wonderful thing with anything beef.

Lentil stew has been a surprise success with 6-yo boys and old ladies who only want burgers or lasagna. (but the vegetables in the stew have to be almost invisible - shredded or cut into tiny dice).
posted by mumimor at 9:57 AM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everybody, these are fantastic. I tried the broccoli recipe already and it was fantastic, and if am going to try the eggplant meatballs tonight. I have marked a few of the ones that struck me first as "best answer," but really, there is nothing here that wouldn't give us a fighting chance.

And keep 'em coming, we still have a few days to choose the contender, and try delicious recipes.
posted by rpfields at 10:22 AM on December 22, 2013

This recipe was recommended on the green a few years back and it has become my go-to holiday potluck dish. Nothing says "decadent" like heavy cream and goat cheese!

Butternut Squash Gratin with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts
posted by a.steele at 1:21 PM on December 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

I"m not sure if you mean it has to be completely vegetarian, but I "invented" this recipe after coincidentally enjoying the Butternut Squash recipe in the answer right above this one.

Butternut Squash with Italian Sausage (self-link)
posted by pyjammy at 4:25 PM on December 22, 2013

The thing about roasting is that it turns veggies that are otherwise stinky--like broccoli, brussels sprouts, and asparagus--into something almost sweet, and it can convert haters easily.

My very favorite dish in that vein is roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta: halve the brussels sprouts, put them on sheet pan, scatter chopped pancetta, and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400degF for ~12 minutes and you have sweet, crispy, bacony, vegetable-y goodness!
posted by rhiannonstone at 7:09 PM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had amazing brussels sprouts at La Condesa in Austin TX.

I've tried reproducing them at home too. This is my streamlined recipe:

0. Preheat oven.
1. Quarter the brussels sprouts. Toss them in oil/salt/pepper. Put them on a baking sheet.
2. Prep a head of garlic for roasting (chop top, slater in oil, wrap in foil)
3. Put bacon in another baking sheet
4. Roast it all.
5. Combine brussels sprouts with garlic and halved red grapes (not roasted). Add bacon last for max crispiness.

posted by sarah_pdx at 10:33 PM on December 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is my vegetarian variation on a Persian dish by way of Yotam Ottolenghi and Najmieh Batmanglij.

Eggplant and chickpeas braised in lime, saffron, chilli and tomato sauce

400g can chickpeas, drained
One large eggplant, cut in bite size pieces

400g can diced tomatoes
One medium red onion, finely diced
3-6 cloves garlic, fineley chopped
1-2 birdseye chillies,finely chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, steeped in hot water for +20 minutes
One teaspoon ground cardamom
2 dried limes (Loomi or Limu Omani), pierced or cracked
Salt, pepper and sugar (if required)

1. Sauté onion in olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.

2. Add chillies, lime leaves, dried limes, cardamom, and saffron water to pan and stir. Reduce heat to low, add tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes, checking for seasoning. Add sugar if sauce is too sour.

3. Add eggplant pieces and chickpeas and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours, until eggplant has collapsed. Season and serve with rice/couscous/cauliflower/bread.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 5:28 AM on December 23, 2013 [5 favorites]

I agree with I know plenty of vegetable lovers who still hate brussel sprouts. If this guy professes to hate vegetables, you need hide them under something delicious.

I suggest heavy cream and lots of cheese. That makes everything better. I have converted several vegetable lovers with Verdure al Forno. You can make it as directed, but I also like to substitute some red bell pepper for some of the zucchini.
posted by thejanna at 6:40 AM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I prefer my vegetables hidden or buried, too.

I like chocolate-dipped carrots. I like candied walnuts (basically walnuts stir-fried with a couple other ingredients and left to dry for a few minutes). I like pumpkin pie. I like fruit pies. I like fruits under whipped cream. (Put heavy cream with a bit of sugar and vanilla in blender on low. Add cocoa powder and you've got a mousse.)

My guess is he'll prefer pureed foods. That he'll prefer a pesto to a basil/pine nut salad, for instance. Or a smoothie. I'm more likely to eat a borscht or a lentil soup if it has been stick-blended than if it's lumpy.

I like salad if it's buried in a rich, creamy dressing. Anything gratin.

Searching for recipes for children is a good tactic.
posted by aniola at 1:31 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Here's a squash mac 'n cheese recipe.
posted by aniola at 1:34 PM on December 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Aniolla, I actually drooled as I read that butternut squash mac and cheese recipe.
posted by rpfields at 7:56 AM on December 24, 2013

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