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Old 01-27-2010, 10:24 PM   #1
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How can I make vegetables tastier?

I am thinking about becoming a vegetarian, so wondered if any of you have any ideas on how to make vegetables a little tastier -but- still remain relatively healthy.

Served with wholemeal rice.

Do I have to add salt? (would rather not)
Can we steer clear of hot spices?
Can we stick to healthy herbs? (please )

So what would you suggest with say, carrots, broccoli, cabbage greens and/or any other vegetables easily available in the UK?

Would really appreciate your ideas!

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Old 01-27-2010, 10:36 PM   #2
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Hi nuCook...welcome to Discuss Cooking!

Salt certainly helps, but, is not totally necessary. Lemon juice is a nice addition to a lot of veggies. Somewhere in there I guess you know you need some protein...quinoia is a grain with enough amino acids to make a complete protein.

All herbs, as far as I know, are "healthy". When you steam say, broccoli, you can finish with a squirt of lemon, fresh spring onions, and a very light shake of soy sauce or hoisin sauce. I know there is salt in those things...but, it's an option.

Also, extra virgin olive oil with a bit of garlic sauteed in it would be good on most veggies.

Carrots and sage is a good combo
Peas, rosemary, spring onion, pine nuts

I'm kind of drawing a blank. The BEST way I have found to bring out the natural flavors in veggies is by roasting them in the oven. 375 until things turn a bit brown (not burnt)...usually takes somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes depending on the veggie. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil before you put them in oven and I sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt. Cook some whole wheat pasta and serve roast veggies on top with a bit more olive oil if necessary.
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Old 01-28-2010, 06:19 AM   #3
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Umami is great for flavoring veggies...u can find it in most Asian stores...soy sauce also works as well as fresh cracked pepper and salt.
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Old 01-28-2010, 08:25 AM   #4
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Hi nuCook...welcome to Discuss Cooking!

Also, extra virgin olive oil with a bit of garlic sauteed in it would be good on most veggies.

Carrots and sage is a good combo
Peas, rosemary, spring onion, pine nuts

I'm kind of drawing a blank. The BEST way I have found to bring out the natural flavors in veggies is by roasting them in the oven. 375 until things turn a bit brown (not burnt)...usually takes somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes depending on the veggie. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil before you put them in oven and I sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt. Cook some whole wheat pasta and serve roast veggies on top with a bit more olive oil if necessary.
I do what Kitchen Elf does above. I think that if you don't like a certain vegetable, it can quickly become unhealthy because of masking with sauces and other flavors.

Also eating seasonally helps veggies to taste best. For example, don't try eating asparagus in the winter, but roast root veggies instead. Also, if you have the time and inclination, gardening is a very rewarding way of having the absolutely most wonderfully fresh and delicious veggies on your table.

About the salt - you can use salts that enhance the flavors without a copious addition of sodium to your diet, such as air-dried sea salts. You can use small amounts that add more minerals to your diet than sodium and boosts that flavor.

So, yes, I would say, keep it simple, fresh, and in-season and you can't go wrong. Good luck!
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Old 01-28-2010, 08:29 AM   #5
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Umami is great for flavoring veggies...u can find it in most Asian stores
My understanding of Umami is that it's another sense of taste in foods that cannot really be added by a certain ingredient, but just by properly cooking/flavoring food to make it well-rounded when you taste it. It's like another sense. There isn't an "umami" ingredient... it's just a "wow, that dish really has a depth of flavor that's very satisfying".

Am I understanding "umami" incorrectly? Off to do some research.
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Old 01-28-2010, 08:47 AM   #6
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You should check out some of the vegetarian cuisines

from around the world. Indian food uses many many spices but you certainly don't need to add hot peppers. Many Thai dishes use hot curry paste but again you can control the amount of heat by either making your own curry paste or simply using less.

You have also left out a very important part of a vegetarian dies. Legumes.

Lentils, chick peas and other dried beans when combined with a grain can provide the protein you will need when you stop eating meat.

I am assuming that when you mean vegetarian you don't mean vegan and you will not eat fish or eggs. It is confusing to me when people say they are vegetarian but they eat seafood and fish.

Just eating roasted vegetables every meal will become boring and if you are not providing yourself with protein it will become unhealthy also.
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Old 01-28-2010, 08:49 AM   #7
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You are half right velochic. You are right that umami is another sense of taste. You can't buy "umami" in the store. That would be akin to buying "sweet" in the store. However just like with sugar (sweet) you can buy MSG (umami) or just like buying fruit that contains natural sugar (sweet) you can buy things that naturally have umami such as Parmesan cheese or mushrooms or seaweed. Using ingredients like these with your veggies will up the flavor profile by adding that little bit of omph that you might otherwise be lacking.

nuCook, why is it that you are trying to stay away from salt? Do you have health restrictions or do you just feel you need to limit your salt intake? Salt is a very important aspect of flavor and cooking. Salt is something your body needs. It needs to be controlled so you don't overdo it, but it is not something you should cut out of your diet unless told to do so by a doctor. A little bit of salt can go a long way, so if you don't have a medical condition which keeps you from using salt then you might want to consider using it on your veggies. You don't have to use a ton, but a little bit can make a world of difference. Salts job is not to make things salty, but to enhance the flavors that are already there. Taste some chicken stock without salt and then taste it will salt and you will instantly see the difference. The one without salt will taste bland and almost flavorless, while the one with salt will taste like chicken.

I do not know of any herbs that are hot and I don't know of any herbs or spices that are unhealthy for you so use any that you like.

Roasting concentrates flavors so that is a great route to go. I like using high heat to roast my veggies (around 500 degrees F). I will drizzle with a little olive oil and a small pinch of salt and roast until they get some color.

Add things like nuts to your veggies. Slivered almonds go well with many things.
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Old 01-28-2010, 10:43 AM   #8
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read recipes. all kinds. read bottles of herbs and spices. read good general cookbooks for techniques. try them.

for example techniques: which veg will work steamed? sauteed? roasted? served raw?

recipes: carrots-steamed-glazed in butter and nutmeg YUM. carrots-sauteed-olive oil and rosemary YUM.

mix similar sizes densities etc for even cooking, or cook separately and toss together at the end.

roasting brings out the sweetness of root veg: turnip, yam, onion, celeriac, swede, olive oil, thyme, some seasoning...wonderful over whole rice, lovely. add beetroot roasted separately as the color is so strong, but makes it even better!

yes Asian recipes will give you a whole new realm of flavors to work with.

salt: we all need it, but we need to control it. If you are sensitive use it sparingly, use soy sauce (also a great flavoring with garlic and ginger)

you can make your spices as hot or mild as you please, and as strong or subtle as you like.

You can't do it all in a day. Start learning now, and keep going . enjoy
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Old 01-28-2010, 11:23 AM   #9
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In many grocers' Spice aisle, you will find a seasoning blend called "Spike." For folks who either want to or need to reduce their salt intake, it is a wonderful addition to almost everything.
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Old 01-29-2010, 04:32 AM   #10
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umami

Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post
My understanding of Umami is that it's another sense of taste in foods that cannot really be added by a certain ingredient, but just by properly cooking/flavoring food to make it well-rounded when you taste it. It's like another sense. There isn't an "umami" ingredient... it's just a "wow, that dish really has a depth of flavor that's very satisfying".

Am I understanding "umami" incorrectly? Off to do some research.

You are correct in the definition of umami that it is the savoriness and not really an ingredient. probably I was thinking of a more tangible ingredient that of Ajinomoto product...we call it vetsin (Monosodium glutamate)...its very popular in Asian cooking and we usually add that in stir fry veggies..though its know to have msg we keep it to a minimum when adding this to our cooking
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