I don’t know about you, but my mother’s idea of a “vegetable” growing up was either beans, peas or corn – usually from the freezer. It wasn’t until I was in my mid 30’s that a wholistic health care practitioner introduce me to the idea of mixing vegetables. And at first I was dubious – I didn’ t think it would taste good. But it’s so delicious! The secret is to mix at least 6 different vegetables together. They’re delicious plain, but I’ve also listed some of my favorite sauce combinations. You can also stir in a full-blown sauce, like curry or marinara. See my Salads & Dressings category for recipes.

I often eat a big plate of vegetables like this as my whole meal; but you can also add tofu or even chicken or salmon if you want some meat. I avoid starchy side dishes, but if you must have a starch to make it feel like a meal, I’ve listed some ethnically-matched options in the flavor combinations at the end.

Makes a generous main dish for one; or side dish for several

1 carrot, peeled and sliced diagonally
3 stalks of asparagus, cut into pieces
1/4 red, yellow or orange pepper, sliced into strips and then pieces
2 c. kale (a big handful), torn into pieces
10 – 12 slices zucchini (1/3 of a zucchini)
2 – 3 crimini mushrooms, washed and sliced
1/2 c. green beans
1/2 c. cabbage
1 – 2 T shortening (see flavor combinations, below) (optional – you can also just steam the veggies)

Melt the shortening in a large saute pan, over medium heat. Put in the pan whichever veggies you want to caramelize a bit – I usually add the mushrooms, peppers and squash (zucchini, yellow squash, etc) first.

After your first layer caramelizes (2 – 5 minutes), stir them to loosen them from the bottom of the pan. Add all your remaining veggies and stir well, to distribute the juices and the shortening.

Add a small quantity of water – not even a quarter-cup – and immediately cover. Let them steam for another 2 – 5 minutes. You can check and stir partway through, to make sure you don’t overcook them.

When your veggies are the right amount of doneness to your liking, there might be leftover water in the pan. If so, turn the heat to high, push the veggies to one side, and let the water boil off. Watch the pan while you’re doing this – the water evaporates quickly!

They’re delicious just as they are, with maybe a little salt and pepper. But if you like sauce – or to add some variety – here are my favorite combinations.

Thai (soy-ginger)

  1. Use coconut oil with a few drops of roasted sesame oil as your shortening
  2. In the steaming phase, add a cube of ginger juice (gingerroot that’s been put through a juicer, and then frozen in ice cube trays). If you don’t have ginger juice, you can always sprinkle on some powdered ginger.
  3. After the veggies are done and you’ve steamed off any excess water, sprinkle on some soy sauce – or better yet, Bragg’s Amino Acids.
  4. Thai-tasting veggies include: bok choy, snow peas, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, baby corn, mushrooms, carrots, green beans, green and red peppers.
  5. The logical meat option here is seafood, like shrimp or salmon. And the side dish would be rice or rice noodles.

Italian

  1. Use olive oil as your shortening. Saute some fresh garlic in the oil with the first round of vegetables. If you dont’ have fresh garlic, add garlic powder during the steaming phase.
  2. Add canned plum tomatoes to the list of vegetables I gave above.
  3. Sprinkle basil and oregano on the vegetables during the steaming phase.
  4. Quintessential Italian vegetables are eggplant, zucchini, peppers and onions. Carrots, cabbage and mushrooms are perfectly appropriate too.
  5. Sliced chicken breast is the best meat to add, and as a side dish try boiled rotini.

 

Mexican

  1. Use olive oil or butter as your shortening. Saute a chopped jalapeno with your other caramelized vegetables.
  2. In the steaming phase, sprinkle cumin and garlic powder on your vegetables.
  3. Serve with a sliced avocado, salsa and sour cream.
  4. Sliced chicken breast and sliced skirt steak both go equally well; and for a side, try either tortillas or rice.
  5. For another very Mexican-tasting vegetable dish, check out my Meatless Chili-Lime Fajitas.



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