Tips and Tricks for Cooking MEATS & VEGETABLES

Meats

If you frequently cook with meat, it can sometimes feel like you’re using the same seasonings every time, which can feel repetitive after a while. Here are a few common marinades that can be paired with any of the listed meats, as well as seasonings and flavors that pair well with each meat.

Common sauces to use when marinating meat: soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, worcestershire sauce + olive oil, BBQ sauce, Italian dressing. Below is a basic guide to the components that make up marinades. (Note: when marinating tofu, don’t include oil.)

Beef: Garlic, BBQ sauce, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, french onion soup packet (as seasoning, add during cooking), au jus packet (as seasoning, add during cooking), ranch seasoning packet (as seasoning, add during cooking), salt, black pepper. 

Fish: Lemon, garlic, dill, sage, thyme, soy sauce, teriyaki, ginger.

Pork: Apples (sliced, cubed, or applesauce), salsa, BBQ sauce, salt, black pepper, oregano, cumin, paprika, sage.

Poultry: Citrus (especially lemon or lime), apricot, peach, garlic, rosemary, sage, thyme.

A note about tofu: Tofu comes in a variety of textures from silken (very soft) to super firm. Firm tofu, which has the texture of feta cheese, is the most common variety found in grocery stores and is the most versatile when cooking. Tofu has a very mild flavor but soaks up whatever flavor you add to it, so marinating is key. After fully drying the tofu, chop the block into cubes and marinate for 30 minutes before cooking. Common cooking methods include sautéeing and stir frying. For more in-depth information about cooking with tofu, you can visit: http://www.tofupedia.com/en/tofu-bereiden.html

Vegetables

Sometimes it can be challenging to think of how to incorporate vegetables into meals and it can be hard to be creative when serving them. However, there are countless vegetable options and combinations that result in a delicious piece of your meal. Depending on personal preference, availability, and your imagination, the choices are almost endless. Here is a list of common vegetables found in grocery stores:

Arugula, asparagus, avocado, bell peppers, beets, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, collard greens, corn, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, jalapeños, jicama, kale, leek, mushrooms, onion, peas, potatoes, radish, spinach, squash, sweet potato/yam, tomatillo, tomato, zucchini

Once you’ve decided which vegetables you want to eat with your meal, the next step is to choose your cooking method. Note: vegetables are best served immediately after cooking, when possible. 

Fresh: No cooking required. Use in salads, veggie trays, etc.

Roast: Roasting is essentially baking, just a different term. Roasting vegetables brings out the natural sweet flavor of vegetables and adds a bit of crispy texture. To roast: chop vegetables into roughly 1” cubes or pieces. Combine with 1-2 Tbsp olive oil (enough that the vegetables are all coated) and desired herbs/spices. Place in the middle rack of the oven at 425ºF until fork tender (10-50 minutes depending on the vegetable). Stir 1-2 times while cooking.

Steam: Bring water to a boil in a sauce pan with a steamer basket. Place desired vegetables in the basket, then cover and steam until fork tender (3-10 minutes depending on the vegetable). When you steam green vegetables, leave the lid askew to help retain their bright green color. After steaming, season with desired spices/herbs.

Sauté: Heat a small amount of oil in a pan on low heat. Use a large enough pan that your vegetables won’t be crowded. Just before adding vegetables, turn the heat to medium-high. Add desired vegetables and spices/herbs. The goal when sautéeing is to create a crust around each piece so it is brown and crisp on the outside while soft on the inside. Stir occasionally, not too frequently so pieces can adequately brown.

Stir Fry: This method is very similar to sautéeing, but with a few key differences. Stir fries are cooked at a higher temperature and the small-cut pieces of food are constantly stirred, tossed, and turned for even cooking. Stir fry dishes are often cooked in woks, but you can also use a sauce pan. 

Grill/Broil: Spray the grill rack or broiler pan with cooking spray, then heat for 10-15 minutes. Add cubed or sliced vegetables with spices/herbs, leaving almost 1” between pieces to ensure even cooking. Turn over pieces once to sear the other side. 

After you have chosen your cooking method, decide how you want to season your vegetables. Here are some seasoning mixes when you want a specific flavor profile. Use the table below for common spice and herb pairings:

Latino/Mexican – cumin, oregano, chili powder, cilantro, garlic powder, onion powder

Italian – basil, oregano, parsley, garlic

Asian – soy sauce, ginger (fresh or in powder form), garlic, chiles, turmeric

Savory/Thanksgiving – rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley

BroccoliBasil, dill, garlic, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme. Also pairs well with lemon flavors (lemon slices, juice, lemon pepper, etc).
CarrotBasil, cinnamon, coriander, dill, garlic, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme.
CauliflowerBasil, coriander, dill, garlic, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley.
CornBasil, cilantro, dill, garlic, paprika, rosemary, sage, thyme.
CucumberBasil, coriander, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, thyme.
Green BeansBasil, dill, garlic, nutmeg, oregano, rosemary, thyme.
Leafy GreensBasil, coriander, garlic, nutmeg, oregano, rosemary.
PeasBasil, dill, nutmeg, parsley, sage.
PotatoesGarlic, paprika, rosemary
Squash Basil, cinnamon, coriander, garlic, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme.
TomatoesBasil, cilantro, dill, garlic, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary, thyme.
ZucchiniBasil, coriander, dill, garlic, oregano, thyme.

Note: When in doubt, garlic and onion (cooked, dried, or in powder form) pair well with almost any vegetable. 

Content adapted from http://www.tofupedia.com/en/tofu-bereiden.html and www.extension.usu.edu

Image from https://www.thespruceeats.com/anatomy-of-a-marinade-1328682

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