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OU Daily Dishes: Easy college-friendly recipes to include more veggies in your diet

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Vegetables are nature’s multivitamin gummies. They are packed with essential nutrients your body needs to stay healthy and fight off viruses, murder hornets and existential dread. Here are The Daily’s best tips, tricks and recipes for incorporating some more veggies into your diet.

General cooking tips: 

  • Water is the enemy.

    • Boiling vegetables removes their flavor and a lot of nutrients. Use cooking methods that minimize water exposure, such as steaming, stir-frying, etc.

  • Fat is good!

    • Olive oil is your best friend when cooking vegetables. Its fruity undertones, healthy fats and antioxidants make it a delicious and healthy alternative to other fats like peanut oil or animal fat.

  • Browning adds flavor

    • We’ve all accidentally burned our food. No one wants a crispy mess of flames for dinner, but browning on vegetables is a sign of released and concentrated sugars produced by caramelization.

How do I chop my veggies?

Dice: This cut looks like little cubes and is commonly used for onions 

Dice

A pile of diced onion, cross-cut into small cubes.

Mince: This cut looks like a tiny dice and is commonly used for onions and garlic.

Mince

A pile of minced onion, cut to a much smaller size than diced.

Slice: This is a singular cut made in an indicated direction, such as in half, on an angle or in quarters.

Slice

Strands of sliced onion.

Julienne: This cut looks like skinny french fries. It involves cutting the food into thin, even strips. It is commonly used for carrots. 

Julienne

A pile of carrot cut into thin, even sticks Julienne-style.

 

How do I chop my veggies and not myself? 

By keeping your fingers back and away from the blade, you reduce the risk of an unwanted cut. By curling your fingertips in, you have more control and your knuckles can be used as a guide. 

Hand position 1

An overhead view of safe cutting technique shows the fingertips tucked in and the knuckle as a guide.

Hand position 2

Stabilize your cuts. Try not to cut on an unsteady surface. Flip vegetables to a flat side to cut them safely.

Danger Veggie

An overhead view of how not to cut a carrot, showing the unsteady, round surface of the carrot face-down.

Safe veggie cut

An overhead view of good carrot-cutting technique. The stable, flat side of the carrot rests against the cutting board.

Here are some of The Daily’s best veggie recipes for beginners:

Brussels sprouts 

Brussels sprouts don’t have to be bitter, tough and slimy. With a little effort, they can be good and good for you. Check out the Daily’s recipe for sprouts with a sweet heat you just can’t beat. 

  • 1 lb of Brussels sprouts (the smaller the sweeter)

  • Sea Salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

  • ¼ tsp. (more if you want some heat) red pepper flakes 

  • *Optional: 

    • ⅓ cup dried cranberries or currants

    • Drizzle of balsamic vinegar glaze or honey 

    • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F 

  2. Slice Brussels sprouts down the middle 

  3. Rinse in cold water, dry (excess water prevents browning)

  4. Put the sprouts on a baking sheet

  5. Drizzle enough olive oil to coat the sprouts

  6. Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes

  7. Add minced garlic and dried cranberries or currants (if using) 

  8. Mix with tongs

  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through and browned

  10. Finish with a drizzle of honey or balsamic vinegar glaze

Zucchini spears

This recipe is perfect for when you’re tired after a long day of work or school. By roasting the zucchini in the oven, you cut down time standing over the stove. And by using a pre-made salad dressing, you cut down on prep-work and seasoning. 

  • 4 medium zucchini 

  • 3 tbsp. Italian vinaigrette 

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F

  2. Wash the zucchini with cold water, dry

  3. Using a chef’s knife, slice the top and bottom parts of the zucchini off, discard

  4. Slice the zucchini in half vertically, then slice the halves in half again vertically

  5. Place the spears on baking sheet

  6. Drizzle with a vinaigrette of choice

  7. Mix with tongs

  8. Add salt and pepper to taste

  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through and slightly brown

Messy Minestrone

Minestrone: A fancy word for soup made out of whatever vegetables you have in your fridge. Traditionally this soup is made with seasonal vegetables and sometimes pasta. The beauty of this recipe is you can use whatever you have on hand, and it will still taste amazing. Use this recipe as a guide, but add whatever veggies your taste buds desire. Buon Appetito!

  • ½ medium onion, diced

  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, optional 

  • Sprig of rosemary and/or thyme

  • 1-2 bay leaves

  • 1 tsp. paprika 

  • 2 oz. white wine

  • 2 medium carrots, chef’s choice (diced, sliced or julienne)

  • 3 medium celery stalks, ⅛-inch slices

  • 2 tbsp. double-concentrated tomato paste

  • 3 medium potatoes, diced (Yukon gold or russet)

  • 1 can of white beans (navy, great northern, cannellini)

  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced or diced

  • Optional additional veggies (ex. broccoli, squash, green beans) 

  • ¼ box of pasta: orzo, ditalini or another small shape

  • Large bunch of spinach or roughly chopped kale

  • 48–64 oz vegetable or chicken stock, depending on desired thickness

  • To taste: salt, pepper, lemon zest

  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste

*Season with salt and pepper as you go.

  1. Place a large pot over medium heat on the stove with 3 tbsp. of olive oil (add more as necessary)

  2. Add the chopped onion, carrot and celery to the pan

  3. Cook until the veggies soften and the onions turn translucent, but do not brown

  4. Add tomato paste, garlic, herbs, bay leaves, paprika, and red pepper flakes

  5. Cook until tomato paste slightly darkens in color and sticks to pan

  6. Deglaze pan with wine

  7. Add beans, zucchini and any other vegetables you want to add (not the leafy greens yet)

  8. Cook until veggies slightly soften

  9. Add vegetable or chicken stock, bring to a low boil 

  10. Add potatoes

  11. When potatoes can be pierced with a fork, add pasta, cook until pasta is finished, adding more broth if needed

  12. Turn down heat and stir in leafy greens and allow them to soften (this will happen quickly!)

  13. Turn off the heat and add lemon zest and olive oil to finish 

  14. Serve with a Tuscan-style or hearty bread

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