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Kitchen Secrets: Readers share their tricks for fitting more veggies in at mealtimes

From blending greens into a pasta sauce to spicing up steamed veg, here’s how our readers pack more nutrients in.

EVERY HOME COOK has their own kitchen hacks, cheats and traditions, and we want to know yours.

Each week as part of our Kitchen Secrets series, we ask readers to share their cooking tips and go-to food and drink ideas. From the secret to quick-and-easy dinners, to the best way to scramble an egg, we set a new question every seven days.

Next week, we’ll be asking for the meals that top the request list in your home – and we’d love to hear yours. Email us on food@thejournal.ie – and you could see your response in the magazine!

What’s your go-to way to pack more greens and vegetables into a meal? 

Give boring greens a lift: I often sprinkle greens with dukkah – a Middle Eastern inspired combination of nuts and whole spices. Any smoky spice will do though. At the moment, I love green beans (they’re in season right now), steamed for 3-4 mins, then refreshed in cold water to prevent over cooking, then topped with garlic butter – delicious!

- Fiona Staunton

I revert back to a hidden vegetable tomato sauce: I use it as a base for bolognese, just as a pasta sauce, or for homemade pizza. I usually make a big batch; it includes passata, tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, carrots, onions, peppers, mushrooms, courgette, leeks, garlic, celery salt, basil and parsley. Dice all the veg and chop the herbs (although dried herbs are fine, too).  Saute the onions and garlic first, then the carrots for about five minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and cook for another five minutes. Finally, add in the tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper, and a spoon of sugar. Cover and simmer for at least 20 minutes. Once it’s all cooked, blend it. You get a beautiful smooth sauce.

I add tomato puree to some and use it on a pizza. The sauce itself is gorgeous on pasta with some grated Parmesan. It’s also brilliant to use as a base for bolognese. I put portions into silicone bun cases, in a bun tray, and freeze them. Once they’re frozen, you can just pop them out of the cases into a bag in the freezer. Each portion is perfect for one helping over pasta; and it reheats really quickly. Perfect when you want something really lovely in a hurry! It’s great for kids, too, they don’t realise all the vegetables they’re having – and neither do adults!

- Olly Keegan

shutterstock_82460257 Source: Shutterstock/sarsmis

Get more than your five-a-day: When we have coeliac or vegan/vegetarian family over, we like to make vegetable curry. It’s easy to scale, but we normally make a pot to serve 10 people!

Peel and dice four carrots, six potatoes, two sticks of celery, florets of broccoli, two large chopped onions, a red and yellow pepper, three cloves of chopped garlic and a similar quantity of ginger, and one finely chopped red chili.

Put a large pot on the hob and add a good glug of oil. Add the onion, chili and peppers, and stir, then add the garlic and ginger. Add two tablespoons each of cumin, paprika and garam masala. Keep stirring and add a drop of water, then add all chopped veggies. Stir for five minutes until everything is starting to soften. Reduce the heat, add a 400g tin of coconut milk (or more depending upon the desired consistency) and the same quantity of coconut yoghurt. Mix well and simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash and cook rice, heat some naan breads in the oven, and mix some fresh diced cucumber with 100g of coconut yoghurt. Add the juice of half a lemon, a grind of pepper and a pinch of paprika and nutmeg. Stir and serve with a big bowl of fresh chopped coriander, mango, and lime pickles.  

- Ross Boxshall

More: Kitchen Secrets: Readers share their recipes for the perfect slice of birthday cake

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