Top Tricks for Flavor-Packed Vegetable Dishes
Today, Christopher Boswell, chef at the Rome Sustainable Food Project and author of Verdure: Vegetable Recipes from the Kitchen of the American Academy in Rome, schools us on five Italian ways to add flavor to any vegetable dish.
Vegetables are at the heart of each meal served by the Rome Sustainable Food Project at the American Academy in Rome. In fact, 7 of the 11 meals served each week are entirely vegetable-based, and verdure are truly the backbone of the RSFP. The highest praise we get from our dining community and their guests is for how we prepare our vegetables: in a way that makes them both interesting and appealing every time.
People often ask me, “How can I make my vegetable dishes more exciting at home?” My new book, Verdure, provides a repertoire of Italian- and California-inspired recipes for great seasonal vegetable dishes that are uncomplicated and approachable, yet still refined.
Here are a few simple tricks that will add complexity and depth of flavor to any dish, and turn even the most boring vegetable preparation (think boiled cauliflower) into something thrilling, time and time again.
1. Homemade breadcrumbs and croutons add fantastic texture to any dish and are a great way to use up slightly stale bread. They also couldn’t be easier to make: Simply cut off the crust and buzz the day-old bread in a food processor until you get pebble-sized pieces for breadcrumbs, or cut the crustless bread into cubes for croutons.
Toss the bread crumbs with generous amounts of extra-virgin olive oil and salt, then bake them on a cookie sheet in the oven at 325° F, stirring often, until they’re perfectly golden brown. Enjoy breadcrumbs over roasted vegetables, hearty salads, herb-stuffed tomatoes, or fresh shell beans; add croutons to homemade Caesar salads or soups. Both keep well in an airtight container for up to one week.
2. Store-bought can’t compare to homemade mayonnaise or aioli. Their silky texture and rich flavor make these sauces well worth the mixing effort, and they don’t take very long to come together.