Spices are the flavor burst that takes a simple stalk of broccoli from plain to perfection, and the right options can turn veggies into such a decadent, delicious side that it overshadows your protein.
Or course the best way to get the most flavorful results is to mix and match, using your kitchen and spice cabinet like a gourmet laboratory.
It is only with experimentation that you’ll hit on the right combinations – zucchini with tarragon, for example – that will make your palate sing.
But in case you need a little push toward the back of your spice cabinet – curry, caraway and fennel, perhaps? – here’s a guide to help get you started.
Veggie and Spice Pairings
Sweet potatoes. While sweet potatoes are traditionally served sweet, with a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg, savory sweet potatoes are also delicious. Try cumin, rosemary or sage to bring a savory twist to this tasty, versatile tuber.
Broccoli . Broccoli is commonly found in Asian cooking, making an Asian-inspired twist perfect for the vitamin-packed veggie. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Add two cloves of minced garlic, a teaspoon of freshly-ground ginger, a pinch of red pepper flakes and ½ teaspoon Chinese five spice. Cook until the garlic and ginger are fragrant, then add broccoli florets. Dust with salt and sauté until broccoli is bright green and softened, but still with a bit of crisp texture.
Cabbage. In Bavaria, sauerkraut is flavored with caraway for one simple reason. The flavorful seeds are a perfect pairing with cabbage. Try sautéing sliced cabbage in olive oil seasoned with toasted caraway seed. Fennel is also a smart pairing with cooked cabbage.
Carrots. Rosemary and thyme are both such savory herbs that they pair beautifully with the sweetness of cooked carrots, especially so roasted carrots, which tend to become sweeter as they caramelize.
Zucchini. This versatile and prolific veggie takes on the flavors of its seasonings, so choose what you like to pair with this summer staple. Some delicious options include sage (especially in a brown butter sauce), basil with tomato for an Italian twist or cumin with fresh cilantro to bring in a hint of Mexico.
Beets. The sweetness of red beets could make you lean toward savory spices, but given the decadence of pickled beets, sweet flavor profiles suit this delicious veggie perfectly. Try ginger or fennel to amplify the sweetness.
Cauliflower. While perfect with salt and pepper, cauliflower is well suited to a variety of flavors. Try curry, turmeric or garam masala for a touch of Middle Eastern flavors, or add cumin to take it south of the border.
Coming next week: Veggie and Spice Pairings Part 2