In the fall and winter, our bodies yearn for warm, hearty vegetables. Seasoning roasted and steamed vegetables with herbs and spices, brings out the rich natural flavors of root vegetables, sweet potatoes and winter squashes.
An herb in the mint family; rosemary has an aroma similar to tea and has an assertive, piney flavor that blends well with garlic. If added to melted butter or coconut oil, rosemary will dress up steamed red potatoes and peas or mixed into a stir fry meal of zucchini and summer squash. Rosemary is also great on oven baked potatoes mixed with olive oil, ground black pepper and kosher salt. It is best to crush fresh rosemary leaves by hand or use a mortar and pestle to grind.
There are over 40 different varieties of basil but the most common one used in meals is sweet basil because it has the best flavor. Basil can lose its flavor quickly and should be added to hot dishes just before serving. Blending well with oregano, thyme and garlic, basil is delicious with vegetables such as eggplant and zucchini and squash.
Mainly exported from Egypt, parsley is grown all over the world. Used primarily in herb blends for its ability to enhance the flavors of other herbs, parsley is delicious in melted garlic butter, olive oil or coconut oil over steamed vegetables. You can add parsley directly into liquids, salad dressings, cooked foods and melted butter. Fresh parsley is best used when chopped finely with a knife before adding to your meal.
Olive oil is a popular seasoning for roasted vegetables since it helps with the roasting process. Olive oil encrusts over the vegetable when it is roasted, sealing in the vegetable juices. Therefore, olive oil is seen as the universal seasoning for fresh or older vegetables during the roasting process. Season the oil with sea salt and pepper or Herbamare.
Garlic works well during the roasting process, even when it is only seasoning added to the vegetable. As garlic is roasted over the vegetable, most of the enzymes that produce garlic’s strong spice disintegrate. The flavoring from the garlic is then absorbed into the vegetable. However, garlic burns easily after more than 10 minutes in an oven at 350 degrees.
Generally speaking, many different spice powders work well with roasted vegetables. Examples of spice powders include cayenne, curry or serranos. The trick is to toss the vegetables into a powder mix of the spices. Cover the vegetables first with olive oil, then combine. The spice enzymes and chemicals will be absorbed into the vegetable during roasting, and will impart crunchiness. Check out my cumin-roasted carrot recipe, under recipes.
Citrus juices bring a refreshing and subtle tang to many vegetables. Citrus fruit seasoning with vegetables gives the eater a full palate of sour and sweet flavor. One unique way to give a citrus flavor to the vegetable is to place shaved fruit parts of lemons, limes or oranges over the vegetable as it is roasted. The hot pan will roast the fruit, giving the vegetable dish extra ingredients, and allow the juices to cover the vegetable.
The holidays just wouldn’t be the same without the smell of cinnamon. Sprinkle cinnamon over fresh-baked sweet potatoes and add some melted butter or coconut oil for a healthy holiday treat. You can also add cinnamon to melting butter, ghee or coconut oil and pour over fresh or cooked yellow or acorn squashes. Try adding a little sprinkle of cinnamon to many cooked vegetable dishes for a dash of something different. Take note that cinnamon can help control blood sugar, lower bad cholesterol, treat arthritis, improve memory and slow cancer growth, according to Health Diaries.
Add fresh dill leaves to cooked, buttered potatoes, peas and carrots, green salads and sprinkled over fresh cucumbers or tomatoes. Dill seeds are used to make many different kinds of pickled vegetables–such as okra, cucumber pickles, pickled peppers, olives and vinegars. Dill water is used to treat gas pains and flatulence in infants, according to the Botanical website.
The stems of fennel may be blanched and eaten as a vegetable and the tender leaves can be added to garden salads. The base of the plant can be added to vegetables and cooked to make a vegetable soup or stew.
Fennel has been used to treat infant colic and intestinal gas. It’s also used as a mild diuretic.
There are over 40 kinds of mint, including peppermint and spearmint. Peppermint or spearmint leaves can be added to green salads and sprinkled over fresh tomatoes or cucumbers. Add fresh mint leaves to the pot when you cook new potatoes, peas, carrots or tomatoes. Combine 1/2 cup of chopped mint leaves to 1 cup of olive oil and 1/4 cup of vinegar, then blend for a minty salad dressing.
Mint has been used to calm upset stomachs and to ease colds and flu symptoms.
Vegetables don’t have to be bland and ordinary…Spice things up!