If healthy veggies are still playing sidekick on your plate, it’s time to rethink their role. Not only are they full of great flavour and texture, but vegetables can also act as a starch when paired with the right ingredients. Here are three creative twists on everyday meals that make veggies the main event.
Kale becomes a wrapper
Fresh greens such as kale, collard leaves and Swiss chard can wrap around just about any sandwich filling and add satisfying crunch to your lunch. Try them with deli turkey and mustard, smoked salmon and cream cheese or leftover chicken and avocado.
Tip: If you’re packing in a lot of filling, collard greens are quite firm and can handle a pile of ingredients without falling apart. Just cut out their tough bottom stem for a better-tasting wrap.
Cauliflower becomes pizza crust
It’s true! Grated and spread thin on a baking sheet, this versatile veggie forms a gluten-free base for your favourite pizza toppings.
Here’s how to do it:
Cut half a head of cauliflower into small pieces. Grate in a food processor until shredded. Place into a steamer and cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Refrigerate until cooled. Mix together 1/2 cup (125 mL) grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped parsley, one egg and salt and pepper to taste. Stir mixture with cooled cauliflower until evenly incorporated. Pour onto a lined baking sheet, pressing into a square or round pizza shape, and bake at 450°F (230°C) until lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Top with sauce, cheese, veggies and meat and bake again until cheese is bubbly.
Tip: For even more robust flavour, drizzle pizza with extra-virgin olive oil before serving.
Zucchini becomes a noodle
Zucchini’s soft texture and mellow flavour make it the perfect base for pasta sauce. All you need is a vegetable peeler and a sharp knife.
Peel zucchini lengthwise to create long strips until you reach the seeds. Turn zucchini and repeat until the entire veggie is in long strips, discarding the seedy core. With your knife, slice strips into thin ribbons and steam until tender, about two minutes. Toss with salt and pepper and top with tomato sauce and meatballs, pesto and shrimp or even Thai curry sauce and chicken.
Tip: Julienne peelers – like regular vegetable peelers with tiny teeth – can turn almost any vegetable into long, skinny noodles.