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How to Cook Vegetables That You'll Crave

How to Cook Vegetables So You'll *Crave* Them

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All it takes is some easy, creative cooking techniques, bold seasoning ideas, and fun pairings to bring out the rich complexity of vegetables—and make them irresistible. Here, the techniques to help you cook vegetables you'll look forward to every single night. (Because not only do veggies keep your body happy—but they boost your mood too.)

Photo: Sang An

How to Marinate Vegetables

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Marinating imbues raw vegetables with deep flavor even before you start cooking them; at the same time, it renders them heavenly tender. Any leftover liquid can be drizzled over the finished dish for a no-cook sauce or boiled down to create a glaze. This Citrus-Marinated Vegetable Poke Bowl puts a fish-free twist on the trend.

To do: Toss cut-up vegetables with a marinade. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or refrigerate for several hours up to overnight. Cook or enjoy them raw.

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Photo: Sang An

How to Puree Vegetables

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The silky, creamy deliciousness can go sweet or savory and offers up a new texture to play around with. You'll want to stick with root veggies, like beets, parsnips, carrots, and celery root, for the thickest, heartiest results. This Moroccan Carrot Puree is the perfect place to start. (And don't throw away the carrot tops—you can cook with carrot tops too.)

To do: Steam, roast, grill, or poach your vegetables until very tender; reserve cooking liquid if applicable. Puree in a food processor or a blender until smooth, thinning with stock, cider, water, or cooking liquid if you have any. Blend in a good-for-you oil, such as olive or coconut, and season with salt and pepper.

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Photo: Sang An

How to Roast Vegetables

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The oven's dry, high heat concentrates the natural sugars in veggies by drawing out liquid, delivering an incredible richness—think sweet and buttery. Plus, roasting creates a nice brown crust on the outside while keeping the insides perfectly moist. Try this punchy recipe for Roasted Romanesco with Caper-Mint Salsa and Chili Flakes (a crazy-looking cousin of broccoli) or these other incredible roasted veggie combos.

To do: Toss cut-up or small whole vegetables in salt, pepper, and oil and spread in a single layer in a rimmed pan. Roast in a 375°F oven until browned and tender.

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Photo: Sang An

How to Sear Veggies

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Stove-top searing in a little oil is the quickest way to lightly brown vegetables and cook them through. This method teases out deep savory notes, adding a subtle smokiness that flavors the produce to its core. Hearty, leafy greens, as well as asparagus and broccoli (like in this recipe), really thrive through a sear because it concentrates their essence. Try this Seared Broccoli Salad with Toasted Coconut and Red Apple for a savory-sweet side dish. 

To do: Heat a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a high-heat cooking oil like grapeseed or refined avocado oil and just enough sliced vegetables to avoid overcrowding, which would cause them to steam. Sear until tender and browned on both sides and season with salt and pepper.

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Photo: Sang An

How to Candy Vegetables

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You can really coax the natural sweetness out of vegetables by simmering them with a touch of honey, maple syrup, or agave until they're glazed, shiny, and meltingly indulgent. What veggies to choose? Any that are starchy work well, like celery root, sunchokes, carrots, beets, turnips, and sweet potatoes. But some surprising picks can make for the tastiest treats too; consider bok choy, brussels sprouts, radishes, radicchio, and tomatoes, like in this recipe for Candied Grape and Cherry Tomatoes with Baked Feta. (These veggie dessert recipes prove that they can be sweet, not just savory.)

To do: Heat oil or butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add small whole or sliced vegetables and cook, stirring often, until soft and lightly brown. Add a naturally sweet liquid, such as honey, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, fortified wine, or cider, and cook until vegetables are glazed. If the pan starts to dry out, add a splash of water to loosen the caramelized bits on the bottom.

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Photo: Sang An

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