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Guide to Matching Herbs and Spices With the Right Veggies

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We all know we should eat our vegetables and they are delicious just the way they are. However, just like other foods we cook and eat, their flavors can be enhanced. Adding herbs and spices adds a depth of flavor that turns a vegetable dish from ordinary to extraordinary. Cooking veggies with onions, garlic, salt and pepper is most common (I put garlic on everything) but what about all the other herbs and spices available? There are so many it can seem daunting. How do you know which herbs and spices to use with which vegetables? If you are going for a certain ethnic flavor profile, there are combinations of herbs and spices that make it easy. If you just want to enhance the flavor of the veggies, however, it may be more difficult to know which to use. Get to know your herbs and spices with The Essential Guide to Herbs and The Ultimate Spice Guide for Vegan Cooking.  Then use this guide on how to match the right herbs and spices with the right vegetables to make your most amazing meals yet.

1. Artichokes

Quinao-Pilaf-with-Ramps-Artichokes-and-Peas (1)

Artichokes pair well with bay leaf, garlic, coriander, paprika and parsley. See Tips on How to Buy, Prep, and Cook Artichokes and try these Overstuffed Artichokes, Grilled Artichoke and Quinoa Lettuce Wraps,  Fried Artichokes over Lemon Butter PastaSeasonal Quinoa Pilaf with Ramps, Artichokes and Peas, and Walnut Crusted Artichoke Hearts.

2. Asparagus

Asparagus-and-Mushroom-Risotto (2)

Asparagus has a strong flavor and pairs well with basil, curry, dill, marjoram, mustard, nutmeg, oregano, rosemary and tarragon. Make Asparagus and Carrot Indian Stir-Fry, Asparagus Potato Pizza and Kale Pesto, Vegan Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto, Raw Asparagus Soup, and Asparagus and Saffron Biryani.

3. Beets

Sesame-Roasted-Beets-and-Greens

Beets are sweet and earthy. They pair well with spicy, fragrant and warm herbs and spices. Use basil, caraway, chives, cloves, coriander, cumin, dill, ginger, fennel, allspice, sage, thyme and tarragon. Learn 10 Ways to Cook with Beets and make Grilled Beet Salad with Almonds and Dried CranberriesSesame Roasted Beets and GreensCarrot Beet Angel Hair Pasta with Spicy Pine Nut and Pistachio Pesto, and Roasted Beet Burgers.

4. Broccoli

Spicy-Lemon-Broccolini-1198x800 (1)

Broccoli, broccolini and broccoli rabe are all grassy and verdant vegetables. You can use pretty much any herbs and spices with them and not go wrong. They pair best with basil, chives, curry, dill, garlic, ginger, marjoram, oregano, red pepper flakes, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme. Read about The Best Ways to Select, Store and Cook Different Types of Broccoli and try this Tofu “Chicken” and Broccoli Salad, Raw Cream of Broccoli Mushroom Soup, Sauteed Broccoli Rabe with Red Chile Flakes, Spicy Sauteed Lemon Broccolini, and Indian-Chinese Broccoli Stir-Fry.

5. Brussels Sprouts

stirfry

These little tiny cabbages are so cute and so delicious, especially baby sprouts. It’s not their fault that so many people cook them wrong and they end up gray, mushy and smelly. Pair Brussels sprouts with caraway, garlic, marjoram, mustard, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme. Get my cooking tips for Brussels in 5 Ways to Get Anyone to Love Brussels Sprouts and then give them a fair chance by using a great recipe. The best ways to cook them is roasting and sautéing (don’t even think about boiling them). Try these Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple-Mustard Glaze, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Rosemary Soup, Sesame Brussels Sprout Curry, and Sautéed Brussels Sprouts, Artichoke Hearts and Sundried Tomatoes.

6. Cabbage

Honey-Ginger-Tofu-and-Carrot-Rice-With-Bok-Choy--1200x800 (1)

Cabbage has a mild flavor so it can really use some help with herbs and spices. Try flavoring cabbage with bay leaf, caraway, chives, coriander, curry, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, marjoram, mint, nutmeg, parsley, and thyme. See 10 Ways to Give Cabbage a Try and Cook With It Tonight and make Awesome Slaws, Veggie-Full Cabbage Soup, Braised Red Cabbage with Beets, Ginger Tofu and Cabbage Stir-Fry, and Polish Golabki Stuffed Cabbage.

7. Carrots

carrots1 (2)

Carrots are naturally sweet and pair well with both mild and strong flavors. Use basil, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, curry, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, mace, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme. Make Rosemary Roasted Carrots with Creamy Thyme and Rosemary Sauce, Curried Carrots with Pistachios, Warming Carrot Ginger Soup, and Carrot Coconut Salad.

8. Cauliflower

Cauliflower-Picatta (1)

Cauliflower has a very mild taste. It takes on the flavors of whatever it is cooked with so add lots of flavor. Cook cauliflower with any herbs and spices you like. Try it with basil, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, mint, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, tarragon, and thyme. Check out Do You Really Know How to Cook Cauliflower? Here are 10 Ways and then enjoy this Raw Cauliflower Crème Soup, Sweet and Sour Cauliflower, Aloo Gobi, Spicy Orange Cauliflower Cous Cous, and Cauliflower Piccata.

9. Corn

Vegan-Thai-Corn-on-the-Cob-resized

Corn is sweet, mild and taste best with bright herbs and hot spices. Pair corn with dill, basil, rosemary, thyme, garlic, cilantro, sage, and paprika. Try these Skillet Corn Cakes, Mexican Corn on the Cob, Spicy Corn Cakes, Poblano Corn Pancakes, Kale and Roasted Corn Stir-Fry, Thai Corn on the Cob with Chili-Lime Mayo, and Curry Coconut Popcorn.

10. Celeriac

Leeks-

Celeriac, also called celery root, has a mild, grassy taste. It pairs well with allspice, basil, coriander, fennel, marjoram, nutmeg, paprika and thyme. Try celery root to make to make Mashed Potatoes and Celery Root and Cheesy Leek and Potato Gratin.

11. Cucumber

Cucumber-Salad (1)

Cucumbers are mild and watery. They can be paired with light and refreshing or hot and spicy herbs and spices. Prepare cucumbers with basil, chives, dill, coriander, parsley, tarragon, rosemary, mustard, garlic, and mint. Try cucumbers in this Vegan Humdinger – Hummus, Carrot, Cucumber, Avocado, and Alfalfa Sprouts Sandwich, Freekeh Salad With Cucumber, Pistachios, and Mint, Spicy Asian Cucumber Avocado Onion Salad, and Chilled Cucumber Dill Soup.

12. Eggplant

eggplant-rollups-side-607x404

Eggplant is rich and flavorful on its own but it’s even better with strong herbs and spices. Combine eggplant with basil, garlic, ginger, oregano, parsley, cilantro, curry, mint and sage. Get tons of recipes in 10 Ways to Cook with Eggplant and 10 Ways to Cook Eggplant with Global Flavors.

13. Green Beans

Rosemary-Roasted-String-Beans

Green beans don’t need a lot of help but you can use herbs and spices to make them simply fresh and flavorful or hot and spicy. Flavor green beans with basil, chives, dill, nutmeg, garlic, pepper, mustard, oregano, red pepper flakes, rosemary and thyme. Then try these Super Flax Green Bean Fries, Green Beans with Toasted Mustard Seeds and Garlic, and Green Bean Casserole Pizza.

14. Leafy Greens

bowl-1197x800 (1)

The category of leafy greens is quite large and includes kale, Swiss chard, collard greens and mustard greens, just to name a few. Pair greens with basil, bay leaf, coriander, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, marjoram, oregano, nutmeg and rosemary. Learn all the different types of greens in this Essential Guide to Greens. Then check out Tips for Cooking Greens so They Taste Delicious, 5 Flavorful Ways to Cook Collard Greens and 10 Creative and Delicious Ways to Flavor Raw Leafy Greens for tons of recipes and ideas.

15. Leeks

leeks (1)

Leeks are relatives of onions and garlic, but they have a milder taste than either of them. Pair them with bay leaf, celery salt, dill, mustard, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, sage and thyme. Use leeks to make Cheesy Leek and Potato Gratin and Potato, Broccoli and Leek Soup.

16. Mushrooms

Masala-Mushroom-Bhuna-

Mushrooms are rich, earthy and meaty. They have definite strong flavors that can be brightened up with herbs or spiced up with hotter spices. Pair mushrooms with garlic, thyme, ginger, cumin, curry, coriander, pepper, red pepper flakes and parsley. See 10 Delicious Ways to Cook with Mushrooms and try these Ultimate Stuffed Mushrooms, Raw Creamy Mushroom Soup with Avocado & Miso, Portobello Philly Cheesesteak, Three Mushroom Tagliatelle with Garlic Sauce, and Indian Spicy Sauteed Mushrooms.

17. Parsnips

Roasted-winter-vegetable-soup (1)

Parsnips look like carrots that have all the color drained out of them. They are nutty, spicy and starchy. Pair them with chives, fennel seeds, parsley, thyme, and coriander. Enjoy Maple Roasted Parsnips, Braised Fennel, Carrots and Parsnips and Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup.

18. Peas

Mushrooms-with-Green-Peas

Peas are mild and sweet They pair well with dill, mint, parsley, sage, basil, marjoram, nutmeg, onion and curry. Use peas to make this Indian Mushroom and Green Peas, Healthy Pea Soup Shooters, Raw Green Pea Soup, and Guacamole Made with Green Peas.

19. Potatoes

stout

Potatoes work well with any herbs and spices. Pair them with basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, mustard, paprika, pepper, rosemary, thyme, oregano and sage. See 10 Global Ways to Cook with Potatoes and then try this Vegan Poutine, Indian Spicy Potatoes and Broccoli, and 8 Ways to Make Badass Baked Potatoes.

20. Pumpkin and Winter Squash

gnocci

Pumpkin and winter squash are on the sweet side so they do best with warm, spicy flavors. Pair them with basil, curry, cumin, coriander, garlic, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, paprika, thyme, rosemary, sage, curry and parsley. Get lots of recipes in 10 Ways to Cook with Pumpkin and 10 Ways to Cook Comforting Foods with Winter Squash.

21. Radishes

Roasted-Buddha-Bowl

Radishes are crunchy and peppery. There is a wide variety of sizes, shapes and colors including white daikon. Enhance the flavor of radishes with basil, chives, dill, garlic, mint, and parsley. You can eat them raw or make Indian Radish Pickle and Caramelized Radishes.

22. Spinach

mexican-caesar-closeup (1)

Spinach has a strong flavor and does well with strong herbs and spices. Use spinach with basil, dill, chives, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, red pepper flakes and thyme. For recipes, see 10 Flavorful Ways to Cook with Spinach and 10 Creative Ideas to Stir-Fry and Sauté Spinach.

23. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet-Potato-Carrot-and-Leek-Soup-1200x798 (1)

Sweet potatoes are, as their name suggests, sweet. They do well with warm and spicy flavors. Cook them with allspice, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, paprika, thyme, sage and nutmeg. Check out 10 Ways to Cook with Sweet Potatoes and try this Sweet Potato, Carrot and Leek Soup, Buffalo Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Noodles, and Sweet Potato Spring Rolls.

24. Tomatoes

sausage

Tomatoes are mild and sweet. They are delicious as is or with just a touch of salt but they can also be jazzed up with herbs and spices. Eat tomatoes with basil, cilantro, chives, dill, garlic, mint, curry, paprika, pepper, rosemary, oregano, parsley, thyme, red pepper flakes, fennel and tarragon. See 10 Ways to Use Your Summer Tomatoes and then try these Fried Green Tomatoes with Red Pepper Aioli, Grilled Avocado with Roasted Tomatoes, Gluten-Free Tomato and Garlic Focaccia, and My Mom’s Marinara Sauce.

25. Zucchini

Zucchini-Tacos

Zucchini, or summer squash, is very mild and takes on the flavor of whatever it cooks with. Enhance the flavor of zucchini with basil, chives, dill, marjoram, onions, oregano, red pepper flakes, garlic, coriander, pepper and thyme. See 10 Delicious Ways to Use All That Summer Zucchini and try Basil Pesto Raw Zucchini Pasta, Zucchini Fritters with Lemon Basil Cashew Cream, Spicy Zucchini and Tomato Tacos, and Clean Eating Zucchini Boats With Creamy Garlic Sauce.

These vegetable-spice pairings are suggestions. Don’t be afraid to experiment and come up with your own favorite combinations. When you enhance the flavor of your veggie dishes with herbs and spices, you’ll never have to be reminded to eat your vegetables again.

Lead Image Source: Kale and Roasted Corn Stir-Fry

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0 comments on “Guide to Matching Herbs and Spices With the Right Veggies”

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Belinda
2 Months Ago

so fun; can\'t wait to try some of these!


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Ben
4 Months Ago

Really good guide here, thanks


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