Insider’s Viewpoint: Comfort Foods Veggie-fied
Why are comfort foods so good? Perhaps it’s the warmth, the enticing aromas and flavors, how they melt in your mouth, or the satisfying fullness they provide. But don’t be fooled, gravy and cheese are only part of the recipe. Vegetables fit that description too, and it may be easier than you think to add veggies to your cold weather favorites. Use these ideas to transform some of your recipes and discover the real superstars of comfort food!
6 Ways To Highlight Veggies In Your Favorite Comfort Foods
- Marvelous Mac & Cheese
Use a slightly larger casserole dish and combine cooked green beans or broccoli with the pasta. Add puréed pumpkin or carrots to the cheese sauce for a tinge of orange. Top it off with thinly sliced tomatoes and, as the casserole bakes, the tomatoes will brown and caramelize to add another layer of flavor.
- Meatloaf Magic
If you use a leaner grade of ground meat, you’ll need to add ingredients for moisture and texture. Come to the rescue with finely diced onions, chopped mushrooms, shredded carrots or grated zucchini. The veggies create tiny pockets of tenderness within the meat as the heat softens their texture.
- Mashed Potato Mash-Ups
A beautiful plate of food needs the right colors. Combine white mashed potatoes with puréed cauliflower to leave room on your plate for some dark greens. With light fish or chicken, serve up mashed potatoes colored with sweet potatoes or blue potatoes. For a tint of green, mix mashed potatoes with cooked and puréed lima beans, steamed kale or chopped watercress.
- Beef Stew Bliss
This is the ultimate comfort food that pairs the rich flavor of beef with hearty potatoes, onions and carrots. Include other root vegetables such as turnips, sweet potatoes, rutabagas and parsnips. For even better flavor, roast the vegetables before adding to your stew.
- Lovely Lasagna
Tomato sauce provides an easy and delicious way to add a veggie amid the layers of cheese and noodles. Step it up by including fresh baby spinach in each layer. For a gluten-free meal, use layers of zucchini slices in place of the noodles.
- Super Spaghetti
Looking for an alternative to pasta? If you have a vegetable slicer that makes thin strands, you’ve got it made. Or in place of a gadget, you can also use a knife to slice carrots, bell peppers, or any other firm vegetable into thin strips to make veggie-ghetti. Try this recipe that packs five different vegetables into one meal!
Veggie-ghetti with Meatballs
Makes 6 servings, 10 oz. each
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced into 1/2-inch strips
- 1/2 lb. parsnips, sliced into 1/2-inch strips
- 1/2 lb. whole carrots, sliced into 1/2-inch strips
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb. ground turkey, 93% lean
- 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup finely minced onion
- 1 egg
- 2 cups marinara or spaghetti sauce
Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss sliced bell peppers, parsnips and carrots with oil and place on large baking sheet. Combine turkey, bread crumbs, onion and egg. Form into 1-inch meatballs. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake meatballs and vegetables for 20 minutes. Turn vegetables halfway through. Serve with warmed spaghetti sauce.
Per serving: 300 calories, 15g fat, 4g saturated fat, 85mg cholesterol, 680mg sodium, 25g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 12g sugars, 19g protein
Sylvia Emberger, RD, LDN