I didn't eat a ton of vegetables as a kid. Outside of the jarred tomato sauce I put on pasta or the quick-pickled cucumbers that my mom snuck in my lunch box, I was mostly a cheese and carbs kind of girl. I didn't have anything against veggies per se, but I mostly thought they were boring (I blame the sad, lifeless crudité platters that were presented at school functions).
When I started working in restaurants in college, I quickly discovered the error of my ways. Vegetables are delicious — you just need to know what to do with them. Which is why, when I got to interview the chefs behind Kismet during an event for S.Pellegrino which celebrated the launch of the 2018 Taste Guide, I wanted to ask the experts: What ingredients or kitchen tools do you use to make veggies more exciting?
Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson opened their vegetable-heavy restaurant Kismet in Los Angeles in January 2017. They also own Madcapra, a small falafel shop at Grand Central Market. Kismet is all about California produce with Middle Eastern flavors. On their menu right now, for example, is a spiced carrot dish with chickpeas, cilantro, and almond broth. There's also fried cauliflower with caper yogurt (gimme, gimme).
"There are a lot of people who don't like vegetables," Kramer explains. "It's our goal in life to convert these people, one vegetable-hater at a time."
The two chefs recommend a couple things to make your veggies more exciting. The first is investing in a grill pan. "I think getting a little char on your vegetables — like whether it be fennel or summer squash or corn or anything – is a really nice way to spruce it up," says Kramer.
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Kramer also recommends using lots of raw garlic on your vegetables. "You don't have to smash it or chop it or anything, just a little bit on a microplane – a very fine grain."
Hymanson thinks pickles and spicy condiments are the best way to covert a vegetable-hater. "I'm a big fan of pickled and spicy condiments. Take some simple charred summer squash or romaine or charred cabbage and then cover it with a little raw garlic and some sort of pickled chili condiment on top. Ground chili, chopped-up pickles, and some olive oil, some zest. Easy."
If you don't want to make your own condiments at home, the two chefs recommend a little store in LA called Cookbook, which sells lots of different condiments like salsa verde and romesco. They also suggest going to a local Indian deli and trying stuff out. "[Condiments] like this are great to have on hand if you don't want to work that hard to have delicious-tasting veggies."
Cheese and carbs are great, but vegetables — vegetables! – can be even more exciting, if you give them a chance.