Basket of tomatoes

Are you enjoying fresh vegetables from the summer harvest right about now? We certainly are — including some from our backyard garden and some from local farmstands.

I’ve noticed, though, that I tend to fall back on the same old way of preparing them — mostly steaming with a little sprinkle of seasoning. Please tell me I’m not the only one who gets lazy in the kitchen? Anyway, if you think it’s time to switch things up a bit, keep reading!

Today I’m sharing a round-up of easy flavor enhancers for cooked vegetables — whether you’re grilling, steaming or roasting them. You might find these ideas helpful if you have a picky vegetable eater in the family or if, like me, you’ve just grown bored with your usual recipes.

The aim here is to add flavor — using spice blends, compound butter, vinaigrettes and sauces — without going off the charts in calories. You won’t find any cheese or bread crumb-based dishes here, since today we’re going for something on the healthier side.

To make things easier, I’ve sorted the recipes into two broad categories: those you need to make ahead and those you can whip up as you cook. Are you ready to dive in?

Make-Ahead Flavor Boosters

1. Garam Masala Spice Blend

This Indian spice blend is a staple in my kitchen.  After I made this recipe about a year ago, I discovered it ready-made in the spice section of my local grocery store — so check that out for a quick option.  In some areas, it’s only available at specialty or Indian grocery stores.

There are many different ways to make garam masala, some of which involve scraping seeds from cardamom pods and roasting them.  For today, we’re keeping it simple. Just know that if you’re a purist or you like to putter in the kitchen, you can explore more adventurous ways to make this. This blend is designed to be stored in a spice jar and used as desired.

I’m giving this recipe in parts since it allows you to adjust quantities for your own needs.  Decide how much you want one part to be (I chose one part = one tablespoon).

  • Cumin 2 parts
  • Coriander 2 parts
  • Tumeric 1 part
  • Cinnamon 1/2 part
  • Cloves 1/4 part
  • Cardamom 1/4 part

Suggested Uses: Add Garam marsala to almost any steamed or grilled vegetable. I use about 1/2 tsp. to 1 tsp. for a two-person serving. It’s also good in rice, couscous, orzo or any similar side dish. 

2. Smoky Dijon Butter

This is a simple compound butter and a little higher on the calorie end, but you only need a little bit to taste the difference.

  • One stick softened unsalted butter
  • 2 TBS. chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika

Directions: Add all ingredients into softened butter and mix well. To turn this into a log: transfer it to the center of a sheet of plastic wrap and wrap the butter, twisting the ends to tighten. Chill until firm, about one hour. Suggested uses: Add a pat of butter to grilled or steamed vegetables before serving.

Whip it up as You Cook

3. Roasted Cauliflower Glaze

This simple three-ingredient recipe isn’t only for cauliflower — try it on other roasted vegetables, too.

  • 1 TBSP. lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 TBSP. fresh parsley, finely chopped for serving

Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the lemon juice and garlic and brush it on the cauliflower before roasting. Sprinkle the finished dish with parsley before serving. Source: Whole Foods

4. Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette

Drizzle this over grilled or roasted asparagus or other green vegetables.

  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 TBSP. lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP. rice vinegar
  • 3 tsp. Dijon mustard with white wine
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions: In a small bowl, whisk together everything up to the black pepper. Then slowly whisk in the olive oil until it’s emulsified. Adjust seasonings as desired. Source: Trader Joe’s

5. Barbecue Honey Glaze

I’ve made lots of barbecue honey glazes through the years, but I think this spice blend is just a little bit different. I haven’t tried it yet — be sure to let me know if you try it!

  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 TBSP. powdered ginger
  • 1 TBSP. powdered rosemary
  • 2 tsp. powdered thyme
    Suggestions for use: Brush this on skewered/grilled veggies as well as chicken or pork.
  • Source: The Herbal Kitchen by Kami McBride

6. Carrots Roasted in Savory Cinnamon Herbal Salt Blend

roasted carrots
What you’ll need:
  • 4-6 large carrots
  • olive oil
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground turmeric
  • ground ginger
  • ground coriander
  • cayenne
  • ground cardamom
  • sea salt

Get the recipe for Carrots Roasted in a Savory Cinnamon + Spice Herbal Salt Blend on

7. Not Your Mother’s Green Beans

cooked green beans
What you’ll need:
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and minced or 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 TBSP. chopped fresh parsley, chervil or basil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Toast the pine nuts in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. While the nuts are toasting, bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan and add the green beans. Boil for about 3 to 6 minutes or until just tender.

Combine the shallots or scallions, vinegar, oil and herb of your choice in a medium bowl. Drain the beans thoroughly and then add them to the bowl, tossing them with the dressing. Stir in the toasted pine nuts and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or chill for 20 minutes and then serve.
Source: Moosewoods Restaurant Cooks at Home

8. Mint Vinaigrette for Corn, Zucchini + Red Peppers

This recipe, also from the Moosewoods Restaurant Cookbook, calls for about 2 1/2 cups corn (fresh or frozen), one medium zucchini and 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper. You would boil these vegetables briefly, drain, and then add the dressing.

  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 2 TBSP cider vinegar (or more to taste)
  • 4 leaves fresh mint, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar or honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • minced scallions (optional)

Directions: Mix together the oil, vinegar, mint, parsley and sugar or honey. Pour over the hot vegetables and mix well. Add salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature, topped with minced scallions if you like.

9. Minted Peas + Goat Cheese

The original recipe calls for microwaving two packages of Trader Joe’s English peas, then rinsing them under cold water for 1-2 minutes and adding the dressing. I’m sure this dressing could be enjoyed with fresh cooked peas and other vegetables, too.

  • 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 20 mint leaves, chopped
  • sea salt to taste
  • goat cheese crumbles

Directions: Mix all of the ingredients up to the sea salt together in a small bowl. Add your vegetable and then top the dish with goat cheese.
Source: Trader Joe’s Website

10. Dilly Beans

This green bean recipe, from the Moosewood’s Restaurant cookbook, can be served hot or cold.

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups green beans, trimmed
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh dill
  • 2 large garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar or honey
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil (optional)

Directions: Bring the water to a boil in a small pot. Cook the beans, covered, for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain the beans when they are still bright green and just tender. Place the beans in a bowl and add the dill.

Combine the garlic, red pepper flakes, vinegar and sugar or honey in a saucepan and quickly bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 minutes. Pour the dressing over the beans and mix well. Add the oil, if you’d like. Serve immediately or chill for about 20 minutes to serve cold.

I sure hope you enjoy these vegetable recipes as much as I enjoyed rounding them up for you! I’ve tried three of the recipes so far and will definitely add the rest to my kitchen files for those times when I need to wake up our taste buds a bit. If you try one of the recipes, please come back and leave a comment. I’d love to hear how you liked it!

I am not a licensed nutritionist, medical professional or cosmetics expert. The information provided on Honest + Simple is for general informational purposes only. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food + Drug Administration and are not intended to treat, prevent or cure any disease. Before making decisions about your health or other concerns, please consult a qualified professional and do not rely on this website for medical advice.

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