It’s 2018 and vegetables are “in”. Restaurants are featuring vegetables, the trending diets are exalting the lowly vegetable (creatively) and farmers’ markets are growing more popular every year. Roasting veggies to the point of caramelization is one popular way of eking out more flavor, but I think the best tip for making vegetables delicious is adding a few splashes of vinegar while roasting (or sauteeing) the veggies.
Best Vinegars to Use in Making Vegetables Delicious
Vinegar, like salt, is a flavor enhancer so experiment with different vinegar and vegetable combinations. You can’t really go wrong. Here are a few of my favorites:
Balsamic vinegar: This is typically a sweet, aged vinegar, but there is quite a large range of flavor between brands. In general, the longer it is aged, the sweeter and thicker it gets, and the more expensive also. Less expensive balsamic vinegars can be used in roasting vegetables, as well as for marinades and salad dressings where there are many other ingredients. Save the expensive balsamic vinegars for drizzling over cheese and greens, or to top off strawberries and ice cream.
Sherry Vinegar: Sherry vinegar is wonderful on marinated red onions and tomatoes, and works well as a vinaigrette on salads (add in a little walnut oil or other good oil). Sherry works well when combined with strong, robustly flavored vegetables because it has been aged in wood. Sherry vinegar is great for brightening braised greens.
Infused Vinegars: If you’re looking to really boost the flavor of your vegetables, check out some of the infused vinegars. Infused vinegars (aka flavored vinegars) give everything a bit of a flavor boost while only adding a few calories. There are more and more infused vinegars on the market now, some with berries, some with herbs and some with rather exotic ingredients like tree barks.
At our farm we make a wide range of what is called “shrub syrups” which is basically different vinegars infused with fruit, herbs and some sugar. Yes there is sugar in the shrub syrups, but you don’t use much of it when cooking (or drinking) as it is concentrated. The large tray of roasted vegetables that I experimented with only needed 1/4 cup of the shrub syrup to enhance the flavor tremendously. With drinks (like fizzy waters or cocktails), it only takes a couple of tablespoons to give your water a wonderful boost.
I tried the recipe below with Rhubarb-Fennel Shrub Syrup and the Cranberry Ginger Shrub Syrup. I plan to also try it with the Orange Chipotle and the Smoked Cherry in the coming winter weeks. This is a very versatile and easy recipe for making vegetables delicious. Just grab whatever vegetables you have in your fridge, add some oil, some salt and pepper and a few splashes of vinegar and roast at 400 degrees for an hour. Here’s the details:
Recipe for Making Vegetables Delicious
Use whatever vegetables you have available and cut them into similar size chunks that will take about the same amount of time to roast. This is what I used:
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced
- 1/4 head of cauliflower, broken up into florets
- 1 large stalk of broccoli, broken into florets
- 5 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 cups chopped bell peppers
- 1 head of garlic, sliced in half
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup Rhubarb Fennel Shrub Syrup
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Coarsely chop the veggies (peel the carrots) and lay out on a sheet pan or broiler pan tray.
- Drizzle with the oil and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. Using your hands toss the veggies with the oil and salt so they are pretty much covered.
- Drizzle the Rhubarb shrub syrup over the top of the vegetables and cover loosely with aluminum foil
- Roast for 40 minutes and then take the foil off and roast another 10 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!
Other veggies that I have used with success include: cabbage, brussel sprouts, summer squash (zucchini and yellow squash, and celery. The vegetable world is really your oyster here 🙂
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