Delicious Vegetables That Require Minimal Cooking!
People who do not eat healthy are almost always doing so because of a lack of vegetables in their diet. And the lack of vegetables in someone’s diet is often attributed to not having enough time for cooking them. Usually people are under the impression that vegetables only taste good if they are part of complicated recipes where they are cooked with a lot of other ingredients for a long time in order to change their flavor, and that they do not taste good on their own with minimal cooking. This however is certainly not the case, at least not for some types of vegetables. I have many favorite vegetables that require minimal preparation/cooking, and little to no seasoning. There are some that are delicious when just cooked right with a little salt, and take very little time or energy to make. This would make them an easy side dish to supplement your main course if it is meat, and turn a meal that would otherwise not be very nutrient rich or healthy into one that is. And some of these can even be substituted for meat and made into the main course themselves. Or because they are so quick and easy to make, they can be had as a snack anytime you need to give yourself a boost in energy. Here I am going to teach you about every one of these vegetables and how you can make them so that you can integrate them into your diet without any hassle.
Portobello Mushrooms are not only a delicious side dish or even substitute for beef, but they are also a protein source which is why they can be substituted for beef, and can even be made as a burger in place of a beef patty. It is extremely healthy, delicious and they are extremely easy to make!
- Cut off the tip of the stump
- Pour a little Extra Virgin Olive oil into the skillet and heat onto medium high (about a 6)
- Put the mushroom into the skillet, cap down. This is the side you will do most of your cooking on.
- Salt and pepper the gills.
- After it has cooked a while on the top of the cap and is starting to brown (but has not fully browned yet), flip it over with a spatula. Then salt and pepper the top of the cap. Let it cook on its underside for just a moment to get it heated, but you will not cook it as much here as you will the top of the cap, it should not start to brown.
- Flip it back over to the top of the cap and continue to brown it a little more there while you add a dusting of onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika to the gills.
- Flip it over again onto the gills to heat these spices just enough to activate their flavors. Then serve, pouring the au jus (pan sauce) over it.
That is literally all it takes to make a perfect portobello mushroom. Some people may wish to add a splash of red wine or balsamic vinegar to the skillet, which is even better, but not necessary. I stopped doing so years ago and haven’t felt I was missing any flavor since I did. Also in the summer time you can make these on the grill as well, simply brush them with EVOO beforehand.
Lentils are a perfect protein rich side dish or entrée that is also rich in flavor, and very easy to make. Unless you get a different variety like horse lentils, they should cook quickly, so make sure you get the regular green lentils.
- Soak the lentils in plenty of water ahead of time. The more ahead of time you do it the healthier they will be, as this activates their sprouting mechanism which causes them to become more nutritious. You can do this early in the day, or if you don’t mind draining them in a colander and rinsing them and then adding more water a couple times, you can do it up to 3 days ahead of time. You will just have to rinse them and add them to new water every 12 hours.
- Cover the lentils with about an inch of water and put the heat on high to bring to a boil.
- Once they have started boiling, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
- After they have started simmering, sprinkle liberally with salt, and add as much pepper as you want for whatever level of heat you desire, and also sprinkle with as much onion and garlic powder as you desire for those flavors, as well as a liberal sprinkling of paprika. And stir.
- They should be done in about 20 minutes or so, you will know they are done when you start to see them split and some of them shed their skins. Make sure you try several of them before serving to make sure they are not firm in the center. It is also important that you not overcook them though otherwise they will get mushy.
- When you serve them try to leave any remaining broth in the pot and not create a pool of it on the plate, unless you are eating with something that you might want that for, as it tastes a lot like an au jus sauce. Any broth that gets left over from the lentils can also be transferred into any soup you make with a dark broth too for extra flavor.
Pan Seared Red Cabbage
Fried Red Cabbage is delicious and manly vegetable, not just because of its rich flavor when pan seared over high heat, but because it also boosts testosterone and is rich in other nutrients, making it perfect for a weight lifter like myself. Just make sure you get the red kind and not the green kind, as it has far more nutrients, and I think it may have a little bit more flavor too. It is also extremely simple to cook and is the perfect side dish for any rich entree. All you need to do is:
- Peel away the outer layers of the head of cabbage. That is all you need to do to clean it, you do not need to wash it.
- Cut the head of cabbage into quarters and cut out the core with a diagonal cut around the outer edge of the core through each quarter. Each quarter should be enough for a man or growing teenage boy, or two women or children.
- Chop the cabbage into pieces that are about 1 square inch. This usually means making two cuts lengthwise on each side of the quartered cabbage, and then cutting along it horizontally.
- Fry this cabbage in virgin coconut oil over high heat until it becomes seared and caramelized, but not burnt. Salting it as you do. It may generate a little smoke, but should not generate a lot. The searing is what makes it very flavorful so don’t be afraid to really cook it, you’d have to do so for a long time to overcook it or burn it, so do not worry. If it is caramelizing heavily and looks like it is burning a little in some places that is ok, some slight burning will add to the flavor of this dish. But if it starts to burn too badly, obviously you will need to lower the heat down to somewhere between 7 and 8. It should be done soon very soon. It will take less than 10 minutes to cook it if you want it to maintain a little bit of firmness for some crunch, or if you want it to be thoroughly fried and soft you can cook it for a little bit longer. You will have to go by eye because how fast it gets well done really depends upon how hot your stove gets on high.
And that is literally all it takes to make delicious fried cabbage that makes a perfect side dish! The entire operation from prep to finish will take about 10 minutes total.
Eggplant is definitely my favorite vegetable, and is a staple of Italian cuisine for good reason. Eggplant is very healthy because it is one of the most alkaline vegetables. It is a very flavorful vegetable with a decadent texture that makes it to die for, especially when fried. The only other thing you need to use to bring out its flavor is a very high quality extra virgin olive oil, and a high quality sea salt. If those two ingredients are of quality, and you have chosen an eggplant that is ripe but not rotten, you do not need to add anything else for flavor.
- Get eggplants that are not too hard and not too soft, as with most fruits and veggies. And peel your eggplant. If you want you can get a large one and then use it in sections by cutting off a section you want to use and then peeling it. And then putting plastic wrap over the cut part of the section you are not going to use and putting it in the refrigerator. Sometimes I will even cut off just a slice or two, and then peel those slices and use them.
- Cut your eggplant into ½ inch slices. If you become an eggplant lover like me and want a thicker meatier filet, you can cut them into thicker filets. I cut mine and my sons an inch thick, but you need more oil for that.
- Salt both sides of your eggplant slices and set them in a colander for 30 minutes, turning halfway through. This is to drain out some of the bitter juices.
- Brush both sides of the eggplant liberally with high quality extra virgin olive oil. This is where most of the flavor will come from so make sure you are using the highest quality EVOO you can, the same type that you would use for dipping bread in.
- Place your eggplant filet’s in a large skillet and fry them on medium-high heat (more towards the medium side, like on a #6 setting), salting both sides again and flipping them periodically until they have started to get light brown. Do not caramelize them as this is overcooking them and results in them having an outer layer of skin which is caramelized, and mushy innards. Once they have browned to the point of what they look like in the above picture they are done and should not be cooked further. They actually could be cooked less than this if you prefer a firmer inside. And this is how I cook mine when they are sliced an inch thick, the thinner they are the quicker they are going to cook and the more delicate they are and prone to becoming overdone and mushy inside, so keep that in mind. When cooked right they should be beginning to soften but still be a bit firm, not mushy. You may also have to brush them again with more oil in some places if they are not frying due to dryness. I do not want to use more oil than I have to so I almost always have to brush them with a little more later.
That is literally all you need to do to make a delicious eggplant filet and if you are like me and my son and many Italians out there it may very well be one of your favorite vegetables.
Roasted Red Peppers
Roasted Red Bell Peppers are one of the most flavorful and delicious vegetables on the planet. They are sweet, tangy, zesty, savory and a little bit delicate. They are also extremely easy to make. There’s two ways of doing it, fire roasting and oven roasting. If you have a flame stove it is better to fire roast them, but if not you can just oven roast them and have them be almost as good. Each pepper will serve 1-2 people. They are very delicious so don’t be surprised if each person wants 1 whole one, and even asks for more than that. My son will eat literally as much of this as I will allow him. So it’s best to buy more than you think you might need. This also depends of course on the size, and it is best to get the ones that are largest. Unfortunately roasting peppers is something that only produces the right flavor with red peppers, so no substitutions are worth trying, just in case you were thinking about it. These are the perfect side dish for meat or just about anything, and can also be added to sandwiches or burgers (especially a portabello burger), and can also be sliced or diced and added to just about any pasta to really make it pop.
- Set each pepper on the flame burner and put the flame on high. Yes, on high. The pepper should look like it is on fire. No, it will not catch fire and start a kitchen fire. It’s too wet on the inside, which you will find out soon enough. Yes, the pepper may start to drip its juices on the flame and make a sizzling sound. No, that does not mean anything bad is happening either.
- Turn the pepper with tongs after the bottom has become blackened. There will probably still be a red spot in the center where there was no flame, and there is little you can do about it, just go ahead and turn it. Blacken it on all sides.
- When done, put the peppers into a Ziploc baggy and seal it for 5-10 minutes until it has cooled enough to touch.
- When cool enough to touch, peel off the skin with your fingers. Yes this is a bit messy. Throw the bits of skin in the garbage and rinse off any that cling to your hands. Do not leave them in the bag, you are going to use this for something else next.
- While the skinned peppers are in the bag, use a filet knife to cut the core out by cutting around the outside of the stem and then simply pulling it out. It must be kept in the bag at this time because a ton of juice is going to spill out. Not only will you not want this to get all over the place, but you will not want to lose it. This juice is full of flavor and can be added to sauces and soups to make them much more tasty. You can also just pour it over something you are serving these peppers with, if it seems appropriate.
- Cut the peppers in halves and serve each half as a side dish on everyone’s plate. Leave the rest on a serving plate for those who want seconds, which there are sure to be, for as I said they are very delicious.
And there you have it, that is literally all it takes to make fire roasted red peppers. You do not need to add anything, not even salt! If you do not have a flame stove, that is fine too, you can oven roast them.
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut out the core of the peppers by cutting around the outside of the stems with a filet knife and then cut them into halves.
- Place the halves face down in a deep baking pan, and cover it with tin foil.
- When the oven is ready, put them in and roast them for about 25-30 minutes, until they are getting dark brown or even a little blackened on top.
- Remove and place them into a Ziploc bag for 5-10 minute, until cool to the touch.
- Peel off the skin with your fingers and save any leftover juice in the bag for in a sauce or soup.
- Serve each half on the side of everyone’s plate.
Again, that is literally all it takes to make the perfect delicious roasted red peppers, and you do not even need to add salt! Making them a very healthy addition to any meal.
Pan Seared Shanghai Baby Bok Choy
Shanghai Baby Bok Choy is a very wonderful vegetable that is one of me and my sons favorites and one of the ones we eat the most, about twice a week. Though I sometimes eat it a third or fourth time without him haha. It is also incredibly quick and easy to make and requires so little to do to cook it. So it makes the perfect easy side dish, and I oftentimes make it alone as a snack whenever I need something hot to eat really quick. You want to get ones that are as small as possible, as ideally they should be bite size (don’t worry, they are also going to shrink when you cook them). You do not have to use Shanghai baby bok choy for this, you can use regular baby bok choy, but the shanghai is MUCH better, so much so that when they only have baby bok choy at the store, I usually just skip it altogether, it’s just not nearly as good and I don’t see the point of eating a version that is so much less than the shanghai. But if you never have the shanghai variety available to you then you should certainly try regular baby bok choy, and you will probably find that you aren’t as picky as me since you won’t know what you are missing. If you have chop sticks that is the ideal way to eat them, so when you set your table place the chop sticks on the left of the plate, on the right side of the fork. And now, here is how to prepare them:
- Wash the bok choy. That should go without saying, as it has for all the other vegetables. However I am adding it here because in this case, you also need to dry it thoroughly. After washing it in a colander (thoroughly, to make sure you have gotten all of the leaves and between the stalks good enough), you need to then toss it in the colander to drain off any droplets of water that are clinging to it. And then you can either leave it in the colander for about 10 minutes to let it get as dry as possible, or you can pat it dry with a towel or paper towel. The drying is an incredibly important step (one of the only steps), that you must not skip otherwise it will not pan sear.
- Cut any larger ones in half.
- Add them to a skillet with enough virgin coconut oil to coat the bottom.
- Cook them on high, tossing constantly as they sear. This will, and should, generate smoke. And not just a little, but a good amount of it. Do not panic. Turn on your range fan, and open a window if you can. The top of your kitchen may start to get very smoky. This is natural when you are pan searing something like this. It happens in restaurants sometimes too. You will get used to it. Consider it part of the atmosphere now.
- As you toss them, dust them with salt a few times. This is the only seasoning you will need, but do not skimp on it.
- Not only should the body of the bok choy sear heavily enough to become deeply browned, but the leaves should also start to caramelize too. This is why you need them to be fully dry. The caramelization of the leaves makes them quite delectable. However you do not want to brown the bok choy so much that it gets overcooked because it will then start to get mushy. You want it to still be slightly firm on the inside. They will be finished quickly so be watching them to make sure they do not overcook. Once they have fully seared and the leaves are starting to caramelize, remove them from the skillet and serve them immediately.
Zucchini is a very underrated vegetable. This is because most restaurants and people who make it overcook it, which is an easy thing to do because it has a short cook time, and after that it quickly gets mushy. But when that line is not crossed it is a very good vegetable that is juicy, not mushy, and pairs well with just about anything, and only requires a little seasoning. First you must peel the zucchini and cut off the ends. Then there are two ways to make it, grilled (pictured above), and fried. Grilling is my preferred method, so I will give you that one first.
- Cut your zucchini in half across the middle horizontally (not length wise).
- Cut each of these halves length wise, with a chef’s knife, into multiple long thin filets, about a quarter inch thick. Do not make them thinner than this, as then they will fall apart. But I like mine as thin as possible, so this is how I filet mine. You can make yours thicker if you wish.
- Put them on your grill over medium heat or just above that (a #5 or 6 on the stove, they are very delicate so this will depend upon how hot your stove gets, and how much attention you can pay to them. My stove is hotter than most so I only use a #6 when I am focusing my attention on them alone because if I do not remove them from the heat as soon as they are done they will fall apart). Either a pan grill or a flame grill will do. I use a pan grill. A flame grill will be harder to regulate the heat of so you will have to be more careful not to overcook them as they will then start to fall apart on the grill and will cause a mess.
- Salt and pepper them and cook them for a few moments. After a few moments check them to see if they are starting to get those black grill lines seared into them. When they are, flip them with a spatula.
- Salt the top (do not pepper them again), and also dust them with onion and garlic powder. Cook them for a few moments longer and when black grill lines have formed on the bottom again serve them immediately.
- Cut your zucchini horizontally into disks that are about an inch thick or maybe a little less.
- Coat your frying pan with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and lay them into it. Salt and pepper the top.
- Fry them for a few moments until they start to brown on the bottom, do not let them brown too much though or they will get mushy on the inside. Unless you like them that way, which some people do, but many people think they do not like zucchini because this is the way they have had it and they do not like it, and do not realize that it does not have to be that way, and can instead be a bit more firm and light tasting on the inside.
- Flip them with a spatula and continue to fry for a few more moments. Dust them with salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. When they have started to brown on the bottom, serve them before they get overcooked.
And as long as you do not overcook them they will be a delicious side dish for any meal. I also recommend dusting them on the plate with nutritional yeast, which will add a cheesy flavor, as well as a lot more nutrients. And there you have it, that is literally all it takes to make great zucchini!
Honey Nut Squash
Honey nut squash is a new kind of squash that is extremely sweet and delicious. It is like a baby version of butternut squash that tastes like it already has brown sugar added to it, so it literally does not need anything besides heat to make it taste amazing. It is only available in the fall so I recommend stocking up while you can. It makes a perfect side dish and the cooking does not get more simple than this!
- Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
- While it is pre-heating, cut the squashes in half and spoon out the seeds.
- Place the halves onto a baking sheet or dish and put them into the oven and roast them for 20-25 minutes until the squash is soft.
- Serve each person a half of a squash on the side of their plate to eat with a spoon. They are quite small, and delicious, so make sure you make enough so that each person get come back for a second helping if they wish. You may sprinkle them with cinnamon, but I never do, they are sweet and tasty enough.
And that is literally all you have to do for a perfect fall side dish that is the best squash you have ever tasted! If you want to make a big batch for storage you can cook a large number of them and then spoon out the squash from its skin into a storage container and mash it up with your spoon inside of it, and it can then be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer all fall and winter.
You can always count on Green Beans as a super easy, light healthy side dish, that is also very tasty when seasoned properly. When most people think of green beans they may think of them as coming from a can and being mushy and salty and having not much flavor other than that. But when you make them this way they are exponentially better and will probably become a staple side dish in your household, as they are in mine. They are the perfect side dish for any rice or pasta. Get cut green beans in the frozen section of your supermarket, not French cut. Cooking them is extremely simple.
- Place the green beans into a pot or pan. I am always only making them for myself and maybe my son too, so I am either adding a half pound or a pound of them to a shallow pan (not a frying pan, but one that I can boil them in).
- Salt and pepper them and cover them with filtered water and bring to a boil on high.
- After they start to boil turn the heat down to about 3 (somewhere between 2 and 4, depending on how hot your stove gets and how long you want to cook them.)
- Sprinkle liberally with italian herb seasoning (yes the pre-mixed kind, I know it takes some of the culinary art out of it, but we are going for something simple, easy and quick here), onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika (which is optional in this case).
- Cook them for 15-20 minutes or so, depending upon how soft or firm you want them.
- Serve them with a slotted spoon making sure not to create a puddle on the plate.
And there you have it, that is all it takes to make great green beans! Enjoy!
This is very similar as the green beans above, except they are even easier because they require no seasoning besides salt. They also happen to be much more nutritious, for whereas green beans are mostly roughage, peas have protein and vitamins, which makes them a go to side dish for myself as a bodybuilder because they are one of the quickest ways for myself to add more protein to any meal. And as the name says they have a sweet flavor that is quite delectable. Make sure you choose quality frozen peas. They should not be from a cheap company otherwise they will have a poor texture and taste. They should not be the petite kind, nor should they be too large either. As long as you are getting good peas they will taste great with the least amount of cooking of anything you will ever cook. Yes, really. It’s as simple as this:
- Pour the peas into a small pan. I as a 200 lb weight lifter usually eat a cup and a half or two cups for myself next to whatever pasta or rice entrée I am eating. It’s best to make more than enough because they also store easily.
- Sprinkle with salt and pour filtered water over them to cover.
- Put your stove on high and bring them to a boil.
- Once they have started boiling bring the temperature down to about 3 and cook them for about 20 minutes, or until they get wrinkled and tender (try several of them to make sure before serving).
- Serve them using a slotted spoon so that they drain when you pick them up, which they will do quickly. You can serve them on the side of the plate.
That is literally all it takes. I told you this was the easiest simplest recipe. I myself get a large several pound bag and eat them as a side dish about every other day or so. I’m not saying you have to do that yourself, I’m just putting that out there because it is such a reliable thing to have when you need an easy nutrient rich side dish and are in the mood for a sweeter vegetable.
Oven Roasted Fennel
Speaking of sweeter vegetables, fennel is the sweetest, so if you like sweet peas you are going to love this. And like peas it is also one of the simplest easiest things to cook that requires only heat and no real seasoning. Fennel has a licorice flavor, so if you are like me and love that, you’ll love this. If you don’t, don’t even bother reading this, it’ll just be pointless, like your taste buds. But if you aren’t sure it is definitely worth a try. This is a great side dish for any many light and richer tasting meals, you’ll have to go with your instinct on if you think a licorice flavor would pair well with them.
- Pre-heat your oven to 350.
- Cut off the stalks and mince them. Put them into a freezer bag and store them there. They can be added to any other dish that you think could do with a sweet licorice seasoning.
- Cut the bulbs in half down the center.
- Grease the bottom of a baking pan with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
- Place the bulb halves cut side down in the pan.
- Drizzle, rub or brush a little EVOO onto the top of each, and sprinkle with salt.
- Roast them in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the tops begin to get light brown.
- Serve on the side of the plate.
And that’s it. Anyone who loves a sweet tasting vegetable, and loves the taste of licorice, is sure to love this!
The easiest to make and eat of all the leafy greens. Spinach has long been a go to side dish for many people around the world. It is both tasty and nutritious (an important source of iron for those of us health nuts who do not eat red meat) and if you do not know how to make it you really should. Make sure you get frozen and not canned. It’s as simple as this:
- Put the spinach in a shallow pot or pan. A half pound for each person.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Cover with filtered water.
- Heat on high and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling turn the heat down to about a 3 and continue cooking.
- Season with Italian seasoning mix, onion powder, and garlic powder.
- Cook for 15-20 minutes.
- Serve with a slotted spoon into a side dish (not on the main plate), making sure to let each spoonful drain as much as you can, but they will not be able to drain entirely which is why you must serve them in their own dish on the side. And then I recommend that you sprinkle some salt on top as well. You may also wish to garnish with a lemon wedge, as lemon and spinach go very well together.
And that’s literally all it takes to make spinach, which you may be surprised at how good it tastes with just a little of the right seasoning. And because it is iron rich it is something that should be a staple for many people.
So there you go! A dozen vegetables that you now know how to make that require very little cooking and are extremely delicious and nutritious editions to any meal! This will really revolutionize your diet and ensure that you are eating healthy and well. Enjoy!
And if you would like to do some more easy cooking, which will be even healthier and not only nutritive but curative, check out my raw recipes article by clicking here now!
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