I didn’t learn how to cook really tasty food for not-holiday meals until I went vegetarian.
This is not to say that vegetarian food is the only food that can be tasty, but I had no known incentive to look for ways to make vegetables more interesting.
As the field of available foods narrowed and vegetables became more prominent in meals, I needed to learn how to make them more interesting or the vegetarian experiment wasn’t going to last.
My frame of reference for vegetables had been: unseasoned, on the side. Often overcooked. Almost a punishment—“you have to eat your vegetables.” True whether I was feeding myself or was eating at my parents’ house. Fortunately, we didn’t eat canned vegetables most of the time growing up or my frame of reference would be another step or two lower.
Taking vegetables out of the role of accomplice gave me the incentive I needed to learn how to prepare them well and made a substantial difference in their deliciousness. How to prepare fresh veggies. How to season them, regardless. Interesting combinations. How to cook them enough but not too much.
I’m forever grateful to people who love to cook and experiment with ingredients and subsequently share their findings with the world via recipes. I’m a very creative person, but not so much with creating food. However, I can follow directions (usually) and make something flavorful. From there, I can make adjustments if I want to.
Whatever your diet, finding some recipes for tastier vegetables will make your meals better. Depending on the recipes you choose, they might make your diet healthier. (I don’t think butter is bad and I cook with it sometimes, but there are limits…) Penzey’s carries interesting spice mixes that are easy to add to plain veggies to give them extra flavor. I’m sure there are other spice retailers that do the same.
I’ve learned when fresh veggies are going to make a substantial difference in flavor, when frozen might be more convenient but not worth the hit to texture, and which of my local grocery stores has the best selection and more local-grown.
I’ve gotten produce boxes from farmers markets and other distributors, then looked up ways to prepare veggies in the box that I’d never previously cooked or eaten. We’ve added a few family favorites through this game.
And, of course, some recipes or some new veggies are just not tasty. It’s always a roll of the dice, but that’s how any experimental cooking goes. It’s pretty rare for a meal to be so bad we can’t eat it just this once, and the don’t-make-again list has plenty on it.
Like many decisions, the choice to go vegetarian had unintended consequences. This one yielded many delicious eats.
Two cookbooks that I have used and loved and had very few don’t-make-again meals from:
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (this is updated since I received my copy … I might need the newer version … I believe you can also find it as an app)
Bad Manners: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck (formerly Thug Kitchen; they also have a blog with recipes)
None of the links in today’s post are affiliate—I just use/love/recommend them.