What is it about vegetables that make people think, “Naaaaaah, salt isn’t necessary.” Or my personal favorite – boiling. How often do you see beautiful vegetables boiled in unseasoned water until the vegetables are unrecognizable?
What I’ve found is the trick to make kids eat their vegetables (and adults alike) is to stop treating your vegetables like medicine – treat them like meat!
Chefs and home cooks alike treat meat with such respect. Say filet mignon, you’ve spent a pretty penny getting this crimson cut so you do what it deserves.
Most people wash it, pat it dry like a babies bum, season it liberally, and then sear it in something delicious i.e. oil, butter, or animal fat until the outside caramelizes – or what chefs call, the Maillard reaction.
Making it that gorgeous golden brown where you say, “yaaaaaaaaaaasssssss honey,” like that lady from the Popeye’s chicken commercials. You know that lady from Louisiana that makes you want to eat chicken all day, err day. Anyway, I digress.
But vegetables, well, we’ve spent so much time on the meat that we need to make vegetables the easy part of the meal. Plus carrots were about a dollar for the bag so they don’t need as much attention.
Vegetables are not throwaways! They can and really should be the main portion of your meal. But I don’t blame you if they aren’t, especially if they taste like crap.
Although there has definitely been a vegetable renaissance where people are spending more attention on nature’s vitamins- something you’ll definitely notice in restaurants – there is still more work to be done.
The way to make vegetables taste better is by seasoning them and having the right proportions of salt, fat, and acid. Just like meat.
Brussel sprouts, a food that is pretty nasty without some TLC, has an Ugly Betty transformation when cared for. Let’s do the whole “treat it like meat” analogy, let’s treat them like roast chicken.
What do you do? Wash and dry the little bulbs, then we season them with a nice sprinkling of salt and pepper, oh maybe some rosemary or thyme (that sounds nice), add some fresh garlic, and coat it with a little oil. Sounds about right…right?
Then we’ll put them on a baking sheet and in a 350-degree oven for about 30-45 min. Disclaimer: I prefer my vegetables to be roasted at a higher temperature, about 400-425 degrees but I’m just going with the analogy for now.
Even with a 350-degree oven, those Brussel sprouts will be darn tasty.
Although every vegetable has its preferred cooking method, that basic concept does wonders to your side dishes. So much so, that you may want to upgrade them to be main courses.
So go ahead, get your salt on! And unless you’re bringing out that pot of water to blanche vegetables before you cook them in something tasty, put that pot back in the cabinet! Sear those veggies and make Mr. Maillard proud!
Click here for some recipes that do vegetables justice and make you want the Popeye’s lady to do a commercial about your winner-winner-veggie-dinners!3