11 January 2023
Give your vegetarian dishes a tasty boost
Tips and tricks for vegetarian cooking in the Big Green Egg
Delicious vegetarian cooking is easier than you might think. In fact, there are a number of simple tricks to make your vegetarian dish exciting, interesting and even more delicious. Besides variety and good nutritional value, it’s all about combining flavours and textures, which your Big Green Egg can play a big role in.
A good dish starts with good flavour. But just one delicious flavour can make a dish dull and not very inspiring. So, keep the flavour structure of your dish in mind and make sure it always includes something sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and preferably also umami. Combining these flavours gives the dish the whole palette of flavours. Especially in vegetarian dishes, umami plays an important role because many types of meat and fish contain it. Umami can be found in cheeses such as Parmesan, emmenthaler and cheddar, as well as in mushrooms, soy sauce and vegetables such as seaweed, green asparagus, peas, spinach, tomato and onion. If you then dry the tomato for example, making the flavour more concentrated, you actually give the dish an extra boost.
Grilling and roasting
Grilling or roasting vegetables in the Big Green Egg also adds extra flavour and makes for a more exciting taste. This is because the sugars naturally present in vegetables caramelise. When grilling vegetables, it is best to do so on a Cast Iron Grid. This absorbs heat well and releases it in a very concentrated way, creating a Maillard reaction, a natural reaction between the animo acids and reducing sugars present in the ingredient. In both cases, this will give your ingredient the bonus of a delicious roasted and therefore fuller flavour.
Roasting and smoking
Roasting vegetables also produces this delicious roasted flavour. The flavour of your ingredient will be more concentrated and therefore more intense, which is a wonderful addition to your dish. For example, if you roast a sweet pepper on the Big Green Egg, clean it the next day and store it in neutral vegetable oil, it will still have its unparalleled flavour a day later. Incorporating roasted peppers or vegetables such as onion, garlic, beetroot or celeriac into a dish immediately after roasting also gives your vegetarian dish something extra. By the way, did you know that you can use the residual heat of your Big Green Egg to roast vegetables? Want to add even more flavour? Then why not smoke the ingredients in your Big Green Egg too.
To further jazz up your vegetables, you may want to add additional seasonings, such as herbs and spices. For instance, turmeric, ginger and garlic are fantastic as well as being healthy. Grilling vegetables already gives their flavour a boost, but if you also season them with a ground spice and serve a tasty hummus alongside, you’ve really got yourself something special. In vegetarian cuisine, you need to play with flavours a little more more so that you don’t feel like you’re missing a piece of meat or fish. For instance, tofu or tempeh can be incredibly delicious, but you do need to do something with it.. If you bake or grill it without seasoning, it’s flavourless, but these ingredients absorb external flavours very well. By using herbs and spices – in a marinade or otherwise – you can really make something tasty.
Different structures for more excitement
However, a good dish, vegetarian or otherwise, is more than just flavour. It contains different textures to create an exciting palate sensation. Soft textures alone quickly make a dish boring. A crispy element adds a tasty bite. This could be croutons, a filo pastry cup filled with vegetables, for example, or breaded, crispy fried onion rings. The latter also add a very rich flavour to your dish. Something crunchy in your dish also completes the dining experience because you hear the crunch as you eat.
Last but not least are the aesthetics. Always make sure you have a nice colour palette and an exciting dish presentation. For example, serve a salad in a mason jar instead of on a plate or a tasty soup in a glass. Preparing a grilled avocado salad? Inatead of throwing away the skin, present the salad in it. You can also serve soup under a pastry topping by covering the bowl with puff pastry or brioche. You can then dip the pastry into your soup instead of bread. So, there are many ways to give your dish a boost. This will make your vegetarian dish a feast for all the senses!
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