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Author Topic: Recipes to Alter or Hide Veggies?  (Read 9183 times)

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Softly Spoken

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Recipes to Alter or Hide Veggies?
« on: March 30, 2013, 12:38:23 AM »
My good eHellions, please help a texture-sensitive Super Taster who has to cook for a Picky Eater. :-[

I am trying to incorporate more vegetables into our diets, but...well, they taste too much like vegetables.  ::)

With an emergency tutorial from a vegetarian friend, I have discovered the joy of french green beans pan-carmelized in sea salt and olive oil, and I can make squash soup - but not much else besides that.

I really want to eat things like spinach and kale. I find the bitterness of kale makes it inedible to me - it's the first vegetable I've actually spit out since I was a little kid. Cooked spinach is too slimy and raw spinach has a rubbery texture that I don't enjoy at all. The same is true for broccoli, its just too spongy. I like crispy crunchy greens, but it seems the darker (and therefore more healthy) the greens get the more limp and/or bitter they become.

Does anyone have any methods of preparing vegetables that change their taste and texture without compromising their nutritional value too greatly? Any suggestions for brussels sprouts or artichokes? Does anyone have any recipes that "sneak in" vegetables? I have been thinking of pureeing some spinach and using it in my traditional meat lasagna, but I am afraid the flavor may take over the dish. I was also thinking of trying to substitute a vegetable puree when a recipe calls for liquid, or simply adding them in where I can - what adjustments would I have to make? Here is an example: instead of messing with my cheesy quiche filling, I thought of trying to put the spinach in this crust. Do you think it would work? :-\

Any suggestions or brainstorms would be greatly appreciated! ;D
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Re: Recipes to Alter or Hide Veggies?
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2013, 12:42:00 AM »
Alton Brown did an episode of Good Eats on this very subject... If I can find the season/ep, I'll let you know.
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Library Dragon

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Re: Recipes to Alter or Hide Veggies?
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2013, 01:05:47 AM »
Do you eat pasta with tomato sauce?  Add finely grated carrots to the sauce.  The is especially good if you use ground beef in the sauce, not meatballs, but adding cooked ground beef.  The carrots are almost the same size and texture. 

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Re: Recipes to Alter or Hide Veggies?
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2013, 01:41:10 AM »
A collection of somewhat random thoughts;

If you really hate veges try hiding them in meat dishes. In winter a soup or stew takes on the flavour of the meat since it is cooked for so long, for example. When I make meatloaf I grate a carrot and a zucchini into it. Zucchini is great to 'hide' I find.

If you want firmer things try things like snow peas or sugar smaps that you can eat raw, or just cook things for a shorter time. Or make a stir fry with lovely crisp veges if you want them hot.

Baby vegetables, although a little more expensive, tend to have a softer, sweeter taste so try those to start with.

Fresh, fresh, fresh. Vegetables lose their nice flavour exponentially fast as they get older, so take the time to source the freshest veges you can find.

Kale and spinach are the big guns. I still only eat baby spinach leaves in salads and in general I love veges - even the much maligned brussel sprouts. So maybe leave those until you are used to the 'lighter' vegetables.

If you like eggy dishes I have a recipe for a savoury zucchini and bacon egg dish that many people seem to enjoy.
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Re: Recipes to Alter or Hide Veggies?
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2013, 04:34:00 AM »
Try broccoli again, but this way: put florets into a pot with about half an inch of water and a dash of salt. Cover and put on high heat. When it starts to boil, time it for 30 seconds, then strain.

Your broccoli should be bright green and still crunchy. I can't eat broccoli if it is cooked more than that.



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Re: Recipes to Alter or Hide Veggies?
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2013, 04:50:09 AM »
Google Sneaky Chef Lapine.  She has awesome books on sneaking veggies.  And she has several books on it. 


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Re: Recipes to Alter or Hide Veggies?
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2013, 04:55:29 AM »
Check the cookbook folder for my Hungarian Brussels Sprouts recipe which involves bacon, onions, and sour cream.  I once got an SCA event to eat those.


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Re: Recipes to Alter or Hide Veggies?
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2013, 06:07:00 AM »
If you'd like to add veggies to soups or stews, you can fry them with a bit of salt, and then blend them. Adds some nice unidentifiable background flavor  :D and thickens the soup somewhat. Celery, carrots, cabbage, anything goes.


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Re: Recipes to Alter or Hide Veggies?
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2013, 07:06:58 AM »
I add spinach to my lasagna. I thaw a box of frozen chopped spinach and squeeze as much water out of it as possible then add it to my ricotta mixture. It's easy & tastes good.

Like someone else, I add shredded carrot to my tomato sauce.

Have you thought about making stir fries?  The veggies are supposed to stay nice & crisp.  I make a
pepper steak stir fry that is quick and easy. I also make a fried rice to which I add peas, shredded carrots, and anything else in the fridge that might taste good.


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Re: Recipes to Alter or Hide Veggies?
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2013, 08:47:11 AM »
Just some random thoughts in no particular order.

Here's a recipe I like for brussels sprouts:

I have to agree with Iris. Spinach and kale have very strong flavors and probably will take some getting used to. Broccoli and brussels sprouts are up there, too. Why not start out with some of the more mild vegetables, like peas and corn and carrots and green beans?

Try adding a flavor to a vegetable to counteract the vegetableness of it all. Squirt some lemon on green beans. Add some ginger and a bit of brown sugar or honey to cooked carrots. Cook peas with onions.

Along the same lines, you might like some raw vegetables if you can find the right dip. Carrot and celery sticks with ranch dressing. Red pepper slices with hummus. Celery with peanut butter.

Roasting vegetables is said to bring out their sweetness. You could try roasting a pan of potatoes, carrots and onions. Peel the carrots and cut into sticks. Wash the potatoes and cut into chunks. You could peel the potatoes if you'd rather. Cut the onions into quarters. Toss them all in a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on them if you'd like, or a bit of rosemary. Put in a roasting pan and cook for 40 minutes or so at 350-400 degrees. You can turn everything over at the middle point, but you don't have to. They are done when a fork pierces a large potato chunk easily.

There's a difference in texture between fresh, frozen and canned vegetables. While you do lose a small amount of nutrients in freezing and canning vegetables, you don't lose everything--they are still a valid choice for healthy eating. Experiment. You may find that you like canned corn better than fresh or frozen, and frozen green beans over canned or fresh. (In fact, I know a family where this is the case. The mom just shrugs and is happy that the kids will at least eat some vegetables.)

Different cooking methods affect texture as well, for some vegetables, as well as flavor. A friend of mine cannot eat mashed or baked potatoes, but loves scalloped potatoes, and french fries and roast potatoes. So the best thing to do is experiment as much as you can.

You don't have to like all vegetables. I'm not a huge fan of turnips and parsnips. I didn't like brussels sprouts until I was in my 30s.
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Re: Recipes to Alter or Hide Veggies?
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2013, 08:50:22 AM »
As a fellow texture sensitive Super taster, I have one truth for either like or you don't and no amount of disguising it is going to fool a true super taster.

I would suggest adding a nice crunchy salad to your meals or a bowl of vegetable soup.  Stirfrys and stews are are a good idea as well.  I've added drained frozen spinach and broccoli florets to my ricotta cheese mixture and grated carrots in the sauce for lasagna that I like and some picky friends enjoyed immensely.

Ftr, two of my favorite dishes are butternut squash soup and the pan fried green beans (I don't like then any other way besides just lightly steamed).

Spinach, kale and brussell sprouts are mostly a lost cause with many a super taster.  I've successfully sauteed mushrooms and at the very end tossed in some spinach, but I immediately took it off the heat, stirred quickly and plated before it got over cooked/slimy.  Brussel sprouts, I actually like, but they cannot be undercooked or overcooked, there is a very fine line before they become bitter and inedible (I like them with Mrs. Dash's garlic and herb seasoning and butter).  Kale ain't happening, no way, no how...taste like battery acid, tires and sand.  Broccoli, I like the same way as brussel sprouts...both I usually steam.  You can also hide broccoli in mac and cheese, just drop in part of a frozen bag with the pasta while it's cooking, follow the rest of the directions.

Have you tried sweet potato fries? Or baked potatoes or sweet potatoes?  You don't have to get super large ones and I find both delicious.

Best of luck.
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Re: Recipes to Alter or Hide Veggies?
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2013, 09:42:18 AM »
If you like the taste of spinach but not the texture, try to just lightly steam it. It will wilt, losing the rubberiness but before it goes slimy. I also like to toss in spinach in tomato based curries or even tomato sauce.

I second roasting vegetables. Very hot oven, a little olive oil, garlic, rosemary and salt.

I also like to use cauliflower as a base for soup, instead of potatoes. For "potato" and leek soup, I steam the cauliflower (both florets and stalk until soft), sautee the leeks until they are a little caramelized, toss it all into a pot with some stock, garlick, salt and pepper. Simmer for some 20 minutes and then puree. You can do something similar for a lot of different soups (carrot and ginger works well too).


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Re: Recipes to Alter or Hide Veggies?
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2013, 01:21:46 PM »
I've added spinach to meatballs,  or i make patties with squash/zuchini, and add green onions, spinach, parsley and mint (the last four i chop in the food processor). I happen to like raw spinach but i know what you mean.

actually, after reading what you wrote again, I think maybe what you need to start doing is undercook your veg. when you talk about slimey and limp/bitter, it may be that you have been eating over cooked/over spiced/maybe frozen veg. I use fresh in season vegetables, and I find that over the years i've learned to love brocolli (very lightly sauted with garlic and ginger), fresh spinach, fresh green beans (so much better than frozen), eggplant etc. I find the trick is to use fresh in season, and use spices/herbs and fresh lemon (not convenience soup packages). i usually either braise or roast in the oven with a little olive oil and kosher salt, sprinkled with herbs.

Artichokes - i simmer and then eat the leaves dipped in sauce. I also love this recipe for artichokes.

Sorry, i've never been able to love Brussel sprouts

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Re: Recipes to Alter or Hide Veggies?
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2013, 01:53:58 PM »
OP, do you like cold soups? If so, I recommend gazpacho, especially my gazpacho (which, lacking stale bread and having more vegetables isn't actually true to the original but is, in my opinion, better). This year I may try adding kale to it since the amounts of vegetables are flexible. I don't bother to measure them any more and so no batch tastes exactly like another. But all of them are excellent.

2 bottles of either Trader Joe’s Vegetable Juice (one low-sodium and one regular) or 2 46-oz. cans of V-8
2 teaspoons each salt and sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 tablespoon dark fruity olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic
2 pounds of tomatoes, cored and quartered
2 Anaheim chilis, seeded and chopped (ripened to red if possible)
2 yellow chilis, seeded and chopped (ripened to red if possible)
1 cup seeded, skinned, chopped cucumber
3/4 cup chopped green onions
2 ribs chopped celery
2 chopped green onions (both green and white parts)
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped yellow or orange bell pepper
1 cup chopped carrots
2 ripe Haas avocados
1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
1/2 cup firmly packed fresh dill
10-15 large basil leaves

Combine all ingredients. Whirl in batches in blender until well blended; there  will be and should be some coarseness. Chill for at least four hours, preferably overnight. Serve in chilled bowls or cups and sprinkle each with fresh ground pepper. (For a spicy version, add one un-seeded jalapeno or habañero chili.)

Also recommended are green smoothies. These are delicious and combine fruit and vegetables (like kale and spinach, raw) into a great drink that provides lots of healthy goodness. Being that the ingredients are raw you get all the original nutrients out of them. Google "green smoothie recipes" and you'll come up with a *lot* of suggestions.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 01:56:03 PM by Amara »


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Re: Recipes to Alter or Hide Veggies?
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2013, 01:58:31 PM »