Steamed vegetables are synonymous with healthy eating for good reason. Steaming cooks vegetables without submersing them in water, so they are more likely to retain vitamins and minerals. Unlike sautéing, steaming doesn’t require oil, so it’s a great way to prepare vegetables if you’re watching calories. The best vegetables for steaming include broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, leafy greens like spinach, and other relatively tender vegetables.
Kitchen Tip: Aromatic spices such as cinnamon sticks, lemongrass, and ginger can be added to the steaming liquid to permeate vegetables with subtle flavor.
When the weather is warm, grill vegetables outside on the barbecue. Like roasting, grilling locks in flavor and caramelizes the surface of vegetables, giving them a crispy sweetness. Grilling is a terrific way to prepare corn, sweet peppers, zucchini and other squash, onions, potatoes, and a variety of other vegetables.
Kitchen Tip: If you have a gas cook top, you can grill vegetables inside all year round. Hold the vegetables with tongs above the flame, turning to cook them evenly. Another option is to place vegetables on a grilling basket over the flame. Bell peppers, available most of the year, are perfect for grilling over a stove top.
Making Vegetable-Based Sauces
Vegetables feature in many classic sauces and spreads. A classic favorite from Spain, romesco sauce, combines roasted red peppers with almonds, hazelnuts, olive oil, and vinegar to create a flavorful sauce that can be used with fish or vegetable dishes. Classic Italian pesto sauce is made with generous handfuls of basil blended with pine nuts, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. To make a rich-tasting vegetarian pate, sauté mushrooms and onions, season with Italian spices or herbs de Provence, and blend in a kitchen blender.
Kitchen Tip: Invest in a good food processor, which makes vegetable-based sauces and spreads much easier.