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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.
We also highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest meatless, vegan, plant-based, and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help you get healthy!
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 Pasta, Seasonal Quinoa Pilaf with Ramps, Artichokes and Peas, and Walnut Crusted Artichoke Hearts.
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.
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 Cranberries, Sesame Roasted Beets and Greens, Carrot Beet Angel Hair Pasta with Spicy Pine Nut and Pistachio Pesto, and Roasted Beet Burgers.
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
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 way to cook them is by 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.
Cabbage has a mild flavor so it can 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.
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.
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 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.
Corn is sweet, mild and tastes 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.
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 Mashed Potatoes Celery Root Cheesy Leek and Potato Gratin.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 Pickles and Caramelized Radishes.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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