Question: I’ve been trying to up my veggie intake, but am getting bored with the same old salads and steamed sides. Do you have any ideas to spice up my healthy eating?
Answer: Yes! I love veggies and salads, not because they’re healthy, but because they’re good. You do have to get a little creative in order to make veggies as tempting as other less nutritious foods, but I have lots of ideas. Here are a few of my favorite veggie-heavy dishes.
- Salmon Nicoise Salad (pictured above). Arrange the following ingredients on a large platter: cold cooked salmon (could also used canned salmon or good quality canned tuna), hard-boiled eggs, blanched (steamed for 2 min) French green beans, steamed baby potatoes, halved cherry tomatoes, and olives of choice. Sprinkle some capers on top, then drizzle with a mixture of 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp sugar, 1/4 cup olive oil, and some chopped fresh parsley or basil (optional).
- Sweet Potato and Poblano Salad with Honey & Rosemary. One of my favorite recipes from Bon Appetit last summer. I make it easier by roasting the potatoes, instead of steaming then grilling them. This salad is great warm or cold, and it’s so flavorful that even if you don’t have all the ingredients it’ll still turn out great.
- Mexican Chopped Salad. Chop some Romaine lettuce into very small pieces and spread out on a platter. Lay the following ingredients on top: 1 can rinsed & drained black beans, 1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) corn kernels, 1.5 cups chopped tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes, 1/2 can diced mild green chiles, 1 finely chopped orange or yellow bell pepper, 1 cup chopped jicama, and 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Make a vinaigrette from 1/2 cup salsa, juice of 1 lime, 2 Tbsp honey, and 2 Tbsp olive oil, then drizzle over the top and serve.
- Grilled Caesar Salad. Preheat grill. Cut 3 washed Romaine hearts (or small heads) in half lengthwise, so you have 6 total pieces that are still attached by the stem at the bottom. Cut 3 thick slices of Ciabatta or other rustic Italian bread. Spray grill with nonstick spray, then place the lettuce cut-side down on the grill over high heat for about 1 minute, or until light grill marks appear and lettuce just barely begins to wilt. Then grill bread for 1-2 min/side. Place Romaine wedges on a large platter with big chunks of fresh tomato and the bread (cut bread in half or into chunks if you want). Drizzle with a mixture of 2 Tbsp light mayo, 1 clove minced garlic, juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 Tbsp vinegar of choice, 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Top with shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese.
- Ratatouille. A veggie stew so tasty, hearty, and flavorful, you’ll sway even the meatiest of eaters. I like to use canned tomatoes and garnish with chopped Kalamata olives and crumbled feta cheese.
Need snack ideas using veggies? Raw veggies are best, because they’re so low in calories. Doctor them up with one of these super easy dips.