Vegetarian food hacks

2/24/2019 in tag food
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A few trivial techniques to make it easier to enjoy a vegetable-centric diet.

Roast all the things

I haven't yet met a vegetable that wasn't improved by oven roasting.

Basic steps:

  • Run a hot oven, generally 450F (230° C)
  • Coat veggies in ample high-temp oil and salt
    • We're using grapeseed oil from Costco
  • Open the oven every handful of minutes to let water vapor escape
    • We're trying to brown the veggies after all, not steam them


My lazy bastard hack on carrots is to just buy them as matchsticks straight from the store. This way they cost about 3.5x as much as bulk carrots but

  • I think it's worth an extra dollar to save the effort to shred them on the box grater
  • They look and taste better cut into matchsticks rather than grated and I'm most definitely not taking this as an opportunity to showcase any knife work with hand-made matchsticks.
Matchstick carrots
Matchstick carrots

Broccoli, cauliflower, &c.

Broccoli is really the mainstay of our roasting operation here but cauliflower makes for a nice color addition. If I feel like punishing future-me as the dishwasher I'll also toss them in some turmeric for added color and some minor flavor improvement.

Broccoli and cauliflower
Broccoli and cauliflower

On-the-fly aioli

The real fun comes from covering roast vegetables (or really anything) with a nice squeeze of flavored salt-acid-fat, a.k.a. aioli. It takes three minutes to make (and another three to clean up after), lasts for weeks, and upcycles meh to yay instantly.

Aioli is no longer just a shit-ton of garlic mashed up with oil to form a fluffy, vampire-repelling emulsion, to quote Bon Appetit. I simply toss some mayo into a small blender along with some garlic, lemon juice, salt, and spices from whatever direction of food I may to jibe with on a given day (za'atar, coriander, paprika, whatever). Control viscosity with cream (one should always have cream).

Cheap-ass aioli in cheap-ass squeezy bottle
Cheap-ass aioli in cheap-ass squeezy bottle

One of several reasons why we buy mayo from Costco.

Un-fresh ingredients

I've just about entirely switched to the un-fresh (frozen or refrigerated) versions of garlic and lemon juice. This way I actually use them rather than skip them (meh, don't want to peel/squeeze X) and it makes for an altogether better meal.


We get Christopher Ranch fresh peeled garlic from Costco and/or Cash-n-Carry and freeze it right away. A bag lasts for many months, and I just use twice the called-for or imagined amount compared to fresh garlic. Even with that, it's still cheaper than fresh garlic.

Lemon juice

We get Perricone Farms lemon and lime juice by the bottle from Cash-n-Carry. It's by the far the best bottled lemon juice I've had, in part because unlike the grocery store nonsense it's sold chilled i.e. perishable i.e. fresher.

Literature for improvisation

An execellent foundation for building flavors is Becky Selengut's How to Taste.

And of course you can't write this sort of section without mentioning Karen Page's Vegetarian Flavor Bible so there you go.

« From the U.S. to Germany to China with love Can I use lime juice to make an Arnold Palmer? »