It’s no secret that we should all be eating more veg. Since our school days, we’ve been lectured about the importance of getting our ‘five a day’. But trying to hit this target shouldn’t feel like a chore.
Vegetables are an excellent carrier of flavour and, when done right, can be the showstopper ingredient in your meals.
Meet your new best friend: the local greengrocer
If your experience of eating vegetables is limited to steamed broccoli or boiled carrots, then it’s time to up your veg game. Your local greengrocer, market or farm shop is an excellent place to get your hands on the best produce.
In a world of 24-hour supermarkets, where the shelves are piled high with produce from every corner of the world, it’s easy to forget where your food comes from. But the best way to eat veg is to choose fresh quality produce, grown right on your doorstep.
There’s a whole range of benefits to eating this way — from saving money and supporting your local community to cutting down on your plastic usage. But, most importantly, fresh produce just tastes better! Because it’s harvested at the optimum time and travels such a short distance to get to you, flavour and freshness aren’t compromised on route.
You’ll likely also discover new foods and dishes that you’d never even considered before. So, take the time to chat with your local growers and find out what’s in season — they’ll be happy to share their buying and preparation tips. Many will even provide recipe cards with new ideas for how to use the veg in your cooking.
Life’s too short for mushy, bland vegetables
If you (or your kids!) still need a bit of convincing, then the key could be in how you’re cooking your veg.
Steaming or boiling veg can leave it mushy and bland. Instead, try blanching your broccoli or green beans. By only putting them in boiling water briefly (followed by an ice bath), they’ll maintain their delightful crunch.
Oven-roasted vegetables drizzled with a little olive oil are delicious and add subtle sweetness to a dish — the perfect accompaniment to a succulent piece of roast chicken. Chargrilled asparagus should also be on every BBQ menu, topped with a decadently creamy burrata mozzarella and vividly green basil pesto. Sautéing vegetables in butter or oil is another popular way to prepare vegetables, particularly leafy greens such as kale or spinach. Add vegetable broth or chicken stock as the vegetables cook to keep them from getting too browned or sticking to the pan.
And if you’re after the perfect crunch and tempting taste of fried food, why not try air frying your veg?
There are also plenty of different flavour boosters you can use to crank your veg up a notch — from cooking oils, vinegar and cheese to fresh herbs and spices. Just think about your favourite foods and what seasonings you use to prepare them. Often, you’ll be able to use the same seasoning to make your veg taste better.
Big fan of Mexican food? Try sprinkling cumin, cayenne or even Tabasco sauce on sliced courgettes before roasting. If Indian cooking is more your thing, add curry powder on top of aubergine and stick it under the grill.
Sneaky ways to pack in the good stuff
If you’re struggling to hit your recommended servings each day or get your kids to eat enough of the good stuff, there are plenty of ways to sneak more veg into your meals.
Get your greens in early with the most important meal of the day: breakfast. Aside from the vibrant green colour (which kids will only find fun), you won’t even notice a bunch of spinach in your apple and banana smoothie!
If it’s the texture that’s putting you off, throw veg into soups, broths, sauces, stews or casseroles — the possibilities are endless! Next time you make mac ‘n’ cheese or lasagne, try packing a load of green veg into the cheese or béchamel sauce before blending it to a smooth, silky consistency. Grating squash, celery or carrots into casseroles also means you’ll get hints of veg rather than big mouthfuls at a time.
Thanks to their rich and earthy umami flavour, mushrooms also add fantastic depth to practically any dish, such as stroganoff, risotto or ragùs. If you’re not a fan of the texture (no one likes soggy mushrooms), try cutting them up small or be sure to fry them off in batches so that they become charred, chewy and delicious.
For a Friday ‘fakeaway’ treat, you can easily bulk up burgers by blitzing the mince together with veg in the food processor. Serve them with peppery rocket and lashings of tangy cheese in buttery brioche buns, alongside thick-cut sweet potato wedges dusted in Cajun spices.
Combined with melt-in-your-mouth lamb, sweet dates and warming spices like cinnamon, veg also works wonderfully in a Moroccan-style tagine. Try using chunks of carrots, potatoes, parsnips or red onions — whatever you have in the cupboard!
Want to make the most of your veg? Register for our one-day Vegetarian Cookery Course today.