15 Pantry Ingredients That Will Make Any Vegetable More Tempting

published May 3, 2018
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(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

How do you make vegetables inspiring? Go and raid your pantry! You’ve got all the secrets to amazing veggies in your kitchen already. A quick addition, be it a condiment or spice, can take a baking sheet full of roasted broccoli or a big green salad and transform it into something that may induce cheers.

Raid Your Pantry to Achieve Tastier Vegetables

Things like plain ol’ roasted veggies seasoned with nothing but olive oil, salt, and pepper or a simple green salad in a lemon vinaigrette are all well and good, but they can get a little, well, tired after you’ve served them up for dinner so many times. More delicious vegetables don’t required newfangled recipes, though. Dip into your collection of condiments, sauces, and spices — you know, the ones you use for your chicken or your pasta or your stir-fry, and let them jazz up those veggies.

It doesn’t matter if you’re grilling, roasting, steaming, or tossing them into a salad, these 15 ingredients will make veggies a little more exciting.

1. Pesto

Pesto isn’t just for pasta. Dollop it over roasted, grilled, or steamed vegetables; use it as a dip for crudité; or whisk it with lemon juice or red wine vinegar for a quick vinaigrette.

2. Dukkah

Once you try this Egyptian spice blend, you’ll definitely count it as a favorite. The mix of nuts, seeds, and spices is crunchy, savory, and aromatic. Mix it with olive oil to make an awesome dip or just sprinkle it over your roasted, grilled, or steamed veggies.

3. Brown Sugar + Fish Sauce

Umami-rich fish sauce is tamed by the sweetness of brown sugar. Whisk a couple of spoonfuls of the sauce with half as much brown sugar. Drizzle this magical mixture over cooked vegetables. Your roasted broccoli will never look the same.

4. Tahini

Tahini is so much more than an ingredient in hummus. It adds nutty creaminess to just about anything — especially salad dressings and dips.

5. Balsamic Vinegar

No, no, not just balsamic vinaigrette. Our favorite move is to toss roasted or grilled vegetables with a big splash right when they’re done cooking to add a touch of sweet acidity.

6. Thai Curry Paste + Yogurt

Thai curry paste is of course wonderful for making Thai curries, but its spicy complexity can dress up veggies too. Whisk it with some yogurt to mellow it out and then drizzle it over cooked veggies, use it as a dip, or thin it further with some lime juice and use it as a dressing.

7. Everything Bagel Spice

All hail the savory, salty, toasty combination of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, salt, dried garlic, and dried onion. Sprinkle it on salads and sliced tomatoes, dip cucumber sticks into it, toss roasted vegetables with it, and roll buttered corn on the cob in it.

8. Panko + Parm + Red Chili Flakes

We deem this the “holy trinity of flavor” and we aren’t kidding. Sprinkle this crunchy, salty, spicy trio on roasted vegetables about 10 minutes before they’re done to let the combination crisp up before you dig in.

9. Dijon Mustard

What can’t Dijon mustard do? A spoonful makes pretty much any vinaigrette or dressing creamier, tangier, and more exciting. Also, definitely toss your vegetables with it before you roast them.

10. Sesame Oil

The bold toasted flavor of sesame oil is best used as a finishing touch for vegetables since its aroma can be lost when cooked. Try drizzling a little over roasted vegetables or sautéed greens, or adding a splash to your usual vinaigrette.

11. Honey + Harissa

Harissa brings a spicy, aromatic kick to your veggies. Since it can be quite powerful, stirring a bit of honey into it will help bring instant balance. Harissa is often available as a thick paste, so first thin the mixture out with some olive oil and then toss it with your vegetables before roasting. Carrots are especially nice with this treatment.

12. Preserved Lemon

Whether you make or buy them, it’s wise to keep a jar of preserved lemons in your fridge. Their salty, tangy bite is really unlike anything else. Chop one up finely and sprinkle it over cooked vegetables, toss it in a simply dressed salad (or whiz it into the dressing itself), or stir it into yogurt or hummus for a unique dip.

13. Brown Butter

With a skillet and a stick of butter, you can make one wonderfully decadent sauce. Brown butter is nutty, rich, and makes just about any vegetable taste more decadent. Make a vinaigrette with it or toss roasted vegetables in it.

14. Chili-Garlic Sauce + Soy Sauce

A splash of salty soy sauce mellows out the spicy punch that fragrant chili-garlic sauce provides. Toss the mixture with veggies before roasting or add it to a skillet of sautéed greens during the last minute or two or cooking.

15. Flaky Salt

The simplest item on the list might just make the boldest statement. A sprinkling of flaky salt on any veggie adds a pop of crunch and creates tiny explosions of salty flavor.