15 Tips To Cook Tastier Vegetarian Food.

Via on Jun 2, 2012
Photo: L'Artichaut

One of the lingering misconceptions about vegetarian food is that it is boring.

This wide-spread belief stems from the unappetizing stodge that some hippies cooked in the 70s. The veggie food bad rap is fortunately disappearing and we are living an exciting vegetarian revolution with delicious recipes published on the web every day.

Now that I mostly cook vegetarian, I realize how it is far more creative than the bog standard meat-two-vegs-one-carb dish. It does require more effort but it’s more satisfying in many ways.

Here are a few tricks that I use to keep my vegetarian food interesting and tasty:

Photo: Geishaboy500

1. A few drops of green gold.

Sprinkle a dash of “the good olive oil” before serving; it brings the flavors together. This is a trick I learned from the Spanish. You can have normal quality olive oil for everyday cooking but have a bottle of the good one for “special occasions.” Alternatively, you can add a small chunk of butter; this, I learned from being French!

2. A sexy spice rack.

Have a good selection of spices in your cupboard. Learn how to combine spices to ingredients; carrots and cumin are a Moroccan match made in heaven, Spanish smoked paprika can jazz up an otherwise bland veggie rice. Caraway seeds are great in homemade coleslaw. Nutmeg goes well in vegetable lasagne.

3. Lemon or lime on the side.

Citruses are a natural taste enhancer and a good way to add a zest of vitamin C in your diet. For example, you can garnish your veggie rices or quinoa pilaffs with a lemon slice; and your Thai or Vietnamese soups and chilli sin carne with lime.

Photo: Nessguide

4. Roasted seeds and nuts.

They give nuttiness and texture. They are packed with omega 3 and 6, and also iron in the case of poppy seeds. Roasting seeds brings out their flavor.

5. Cool beans.

There is more to pulses than lentils and chick peas. There are some other nice legumes to play with: butter beans, split beans, mung beans, turtle beans. Beans of all shapes and colors are wonderful in salads, and they also make a good base to prepare homemade veggie burgers.

6. Local, seasonal and organic vegetables.

They just taste better. The key to any good cooking is the ingredients. Eating South American tomato in December makes very little sense. They are hard and watery. It’s really worth waiting for summer to see what your farmer’s market has to offer.

7. Bring on the grass.

Chopped fresh herbs or spring onion dress up a dish and bring a pungent, spicy and tangy taste to it. They provide surprising amounts of vitamins and iron, especially in the case of the French cuisine favorite parsley. Chopped parsley, steamed potatoes and a chunk of butter is one of my favorite side dishes.

Photo: Iain Watson

8. The power of tomato concentrate.

Dishes that are cooked in a lot of water can be insipid. A few teaspoons of tomato concentrate really revive pulses stews and winter soups. It’s a wonderful substitute for tomato during winter.

9. Make it hot.

Have a few chili options in your cupboard. Chili flakes and powder are very handy, but you can add Portuguese piri piri or cayenne pepper to your spicy repertoire.

10. Get cheesy.

A bit of grated parmesan cheese goes a long way. Why not also try to cut of few slices of brie in your tomato spaghetti, or some goat cheese melted on toast to accompany your summer salad.

Photo: Chris Buecheler

11. Grate the garlic.

The finer chopped the garlic is, the better its taste infuses in your dish. I grate mine with a Japanese ginger grater, it saves me some chopping too!

12. Use a pressure cooker.

Dishes are cooked in liquid so all the minerals and vitamins—and the flavors—are preserved in the process.

13. Hearty veggies.

Choose vegetables with meaty textures—squashes, cabbages, potatoes, mushrooms, aubergines, beetroots—and combine them with lighter greens such as spinach and leek, as well as tasty reds: peppers and tomatoes.

Photo: Jakub Hlavaty

14. The perfect dressing.

Sometimes a tasty salad is only as good its dressing. The right sauce can give the final touch that will make it all happen. I’m quite partial to homemade vinaigrette, but you can style your salad by personalizing your dressing. You can make a simple quinoa and lentil salad taste Mediterranean by creating a honey and cumin dressing. Or, you can bring an Asian flavour to a cold noodles salad by serving it with a satay type dressing—garlic, soy sauce, peanut butter, sesame oil.

15. Mucho mezze.

One of the wonders of vegetarian cooking is that there are a lot of cultures and traditions to find inspiration from. Mediterranean cuisine is especially attractive when it comes to preparing simple but delicious veggie dishes and dips to share. The Spanish constantly create mouth-watering tapas; from patatas bravas to tortilla or pimientos de padron (grilled baby green peppers). The Italians have a great tradition of antipasti. Then further south, the Greek, Lebanese and Turkish cooking have bundles of delights to offer: baba ganoush, humus, tzatziki and tabouleh. They’re all easier to prepare than you might think, and are a great accompaniment to summer barbecues and picnics.

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Editor: Lynn Hasselberger

About Sophie Legrand

Sophie is the littlest French hobo. After studying American Literature in Paris, she left France in 1998 to first live in Santa Barbara, California, for a year. She then went to Madrid where she started working in publishing, as a literary agent. After 5 years of movida in Spain, she moved to London. There, she was introduced to yoga by two fantastic teachers, who gave her some very good foundations, a sense of precision and a taste for Asian philosophy. She completed her Yoga Teacher Training in Vancouver in 2011 and is now back to England where she is a proud stay-at-home mom and a yoga teacher. She is also a passionate home-cook with a focus on multicultural, tasty and healthy dishes. Her culinary explorations are on L'Artichaut. You can find her on Twitter and on Mindful Mum She also helps looking after Reviews at Elephant Journal.

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12 Responses to “15 Tips To Cook Tastier Vegetarian Food.”

  1. Karen goss says:

    Try boiled new potatoes with garden mint Salt and covered in butter! Awesome British delight! :-)

  2. Muks says:

    I love those Arabic and Indian vegetarian dishes! Let me tell you about one of the few German ones: Boiled or jacked potatoes with a LOT of quark, mixed with herbs, lemon juice and some drops olive oil.

    • Muks says:

      …. And lemon zest can jazz up some dishes very well!

      • sophie says:

        Thanks Muks. Anything that is potato and dairy is my comfort food: potato and cheese, potato ans cream, potato and butter. Mmm. Lemon and orange zest are great too. Have you it in quinoa, raisins, pine nuts salad? Yum!

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  4. Annabel says:

    As a long time vego, i think you are totally spot on with this list!!!! Cheers!!!

  5. sophie says:

    Thanks Annabel. That s really nice to read! Yesterday I realised I forgot about adding veggie broth to pilaffs or stews.

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