Of all the food groups, there is none quite as misunderstood as vegetables. Vegetables are often written off as bland or tasteless, but we’re here to set the record straight. The problem isn’t the vegetables; it’s how you’re preparing them.
Fresh, canned, or frozen vegetables and legumes can be savory, sweet, and every flavor in between—but only if they’re cooked and seasoned properly. Luckily, this usually takes a minimal amount of effort, and the taste is well worth the few extra steps.
These delicious recipes help elevate veggies to their full, complex-flavored potential, turning even the pickiest of eaters into bonafide veggie votaries.
Secret Ingredient Mashed Potatoes
When it comes to picky-eater-approved vegetables, potatoes rank fairly high on the list. These tasty tubers are versatile and easy to season—you’d be hard-pressed to find an herb or spice that doesn’t pair well with these mild-flavored veggies.
Our favorite mashed potato recipe uses a different kind of secret ingredient altogether to create the creamiest and fluffiest mashed potatoes you’ve ever had. Take it from us; we’ve taste-tested this recipe plenty of times, and it’s always a smash-hit.
Prosciutto-Wrapped Sweet Potatoes With Maple Balsamic Glaze
Elevate yams from yawn to yowza by wrapping them in savory Italian prosciutto. In this mouthwatering recipe, roasted sweet potatoes and maple syrup soften the combination of salty cured ham and bitter balsamic vinegar.
The flavor is sophisticated, layered, and 100% irresistible. No meat? No problem. This clever plant-based prosciutto from The Gentle Chef is made with rice paper, soy sauce, beet powder, and Worcestershire sauce.
Roasted Carrots with Ayib and Awaze Vinaigrette
Uncooked carrots are bright, grassy, and crunchy. Toss them in spiced brown butter and slowly roast for 30 minutes like in this Roasted Carrots with Ayib and Awaze Vinaigrette recipe from Bon Appétit, and they become fork-tender and deliciously savory-sweet.
When paired with a tangy, tart vinaigrette of lemon juice, honey, and mustard and topped with crumbled goat cheese or feta, the flavor goes through the roof. You’ll never want to eat carrots any other way ever again.
Slow-Cooker Boston Baked Beans
There are over 400 bean varieties in the world, which means even the most finicky veggie-eaters should be able to find a bean (or two or three) they love. Beans taste best when they’ve had time to meld with sauce and/or spices, making them great slow-cooker candidates.
Boston baked navy beans are slow-cooked with molasses, brown sugar, cloves, black pepper, onion, and bacon strips. We recommend adding a few teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce and brown mustard to create a cozy, smoky side dish perfect for pairing with BBQ.
BBQ Spaghetti Squash Sliders
Speaking of BBQ, these plant-based BBQ sliders are a foolproof way to incorporate more spaghetti squash into your diet and use up the insane amount of squash that seems to pop up around mid to late summer. Plus, it’s the perfect entree to pair with those Boston baked beans.
Spaghetti squash is incredibly mild, which keeps the smoky, sweet, and savory flavors of the BBQ sauce front and center. The squash’s stringy, pull-apart texture makes it practically indistinguishable from regular pulled pork when paired with fresh red cabbage, onion, cucumber, and a gherkin or two.
Cauliflower is more than just an oft-passed-over option in veggie party platters. When steamed, mashed, and seasoned like in this loaded cauliflower recipe, it becomes a hearty entree that tastes like potatoes with half the calories.
Thanks to cauliflower’s high nutritional value and low caloric content, you can pile on the cheddar cheese, sour cream, ranch dressing mix, and spices guilt-free. Healthy comfort food has never tasted so good.
Sweet Cherry Tomato and Sausage Bake
Cherry tomatoes’ crisp, candy-like flavor complements the robust flavor of pork sausage beautifully in this sweet cherry tomato and sausage bake from world-class Chef Jamie Oliver. If there’s a better way to introduce a picky eater to cherry tomatoes, we truly haven’t found it yet.
This delectable recipe requires only one roasting pan from start to finish (hello, easy clean-up!), and the leftovers can be chopped into a full-flavored chunky pasta sauce to be frozen or used the next day.
Sweet and Spicy Vegetable Stir Fry
It doesn’t get much easier, more versatile, or more budget-friendly than veggie stir-fry. Fresh, frozen, or canned veggies are cooked in a large skillet or wok where they soak up rich flavors of soy sauce, broth, and honey—and that’s about it.
This sweet and spicy vegetable stir fry costs under five dollars to make, can be made with or without meat, eaten alone or served with rice, and is a fantastic way to use up vegetables that are about to go bad.
Corn and Black Bean Salad
This corn and black bean salad is as colorful as it is delicious. Corn, black beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spices combine to create a summer-y, irresistible dip that is begging to be paired with crunchy tortilla chips.
We recommend adding two to three extra garlic cloves, some diced avocado, and a dash of smoked paprika, chili powder, and celery salt to really kick the flavor up a notch.
Stuffed Bell Peppers
Stuffed bell peppers feature all of the bold, spicy flavors of Mexican cuisine without the added calories and carbs of tortillas. We love this recipe’s combination of fire-roasted tomatoes and earthy brown rice, but you can tailor the bell peppers’ filling to fit your exact tastes by experimenting with rice, seasonings, and veggie combinations.
Don’t let the word ‘pepper’ fool you, either. Bell peppers have zero Scoville heat units, so you can actually enjoy your meal, not power through it.
Creamy Parmesan Garlic Brussels Sprouts
We can sense your apprehension already, but rest assured, this creamy parmesan garlic Brussels sprouts recipe goes above and beyond this divisive veggie’s standard preparation.
Chicken broth, heavy cream, parmesan, and Italian seasoning soften the Brussel sprouts’ natural bitterness, while the veggies’ earthy flavor keeps the dish from becoming too bland and milky. And despite its gourmet appearance and taste, this dish takes only 20 minutes to make.
Warm Curry Roasted Sheet Pan Vegetable Salad
Our favorite go-to veggie preparation style is roasting. Add sweet potato, butternut squash, green beans, broccoli, tomato, peppers, and more to a baking sheet with a bit of olive oil, and the oven does the rest.
Of course, if you’re like us, you’ll still be tempted to add a little extra ~something~ to the roasted veggies. We’re partial to the warm curry spice blend and honey curry dressing used in this vegetable salad recipe from Skinny Taste.