When you think “healthy,” what foods leap to mind—grilled chicken, steamed vegetables, scrambled egg whites? The problem with these perfectly respectable choices is that they’re often oh-so-boring. And that yawn factor is one of the biggest obstacles to making healthy eating a regular part of your life, especially if you’re like me. As far as I’m concerned, food is more than mere fuel: It’s entertainment, fun, exploration, and a sensual journey.
Take vegetables, probably the most underglorified of all the healthful ingredients. Even the phrase “eat your vegetables” has come to imply a chore: the have-to before the want-to food. But imagine if the two were one and the same—if, by preparing vegetables in more creative, inspired ways, you could discover the sweet spot where exciting meets healthy.
Start simple: Try cutting your vegetables differently. Zucchini sliced on a mandoline and served piled like noodles is interesting in a way that those typical semicircles never will be. Cooking vegetables in unexpected ways works wonders, too. Wedges of romaine lettuce brushed with oil and grilled until warm and slightly wilted are delicious, as is eggplant, its flesh mashed into a creamy, spiced Middle Eastern dip. Or don’t cook your vegetables at all. Shredded raw broccoli stems make a great slaw, and raw summer squash sliced paper-thin and drizzled with a lemon and olive oil dressing is a new take on carpaccio.
These recipes follow that line of thinking and take vegetables out of the side dish realm altogether. Here, favorites like corn, peas, and carrots become rich and creamy (but cream-free) sauces for simply cooked meats, chicken, and fi sh. The basic technique is easy. Cook the vegetable with broth and an aromatic like onions, shallots, or leeks; purée it entirely or partially; and strain for a finer texture if desired. Then combine the purée with additional seasonings, and you’ve got a good-for-you vegetable serving that’s both delicious and beautiful.
|Good to Know
Once you’ve made your sauce, turn it into a fresh, satisfying meal by pairing it with one of the following:
• Creamy Corn Sauce Grilled chicken, salmon, or shellfish.
• Carrot-Ginger Sauce Pan-seared scallops or roasted or grilled pork.
• Pea Sauce with Fresh Mint Grilled lamb or flaky white fish.
|Creamy Corn Sauce|
|Carrot-Ginger Sauce||Pea Sauce with Fresh Mint|
Photos: Scott Phillips