Throwing some veggies in a pan is one of the quickest ways to a healthy and hearty dinner, and deciding how to dress up your produce is step one. Truly, any seasonings - or combinations of seasonings - that you prefer will work on your dish; it's just a matter of personal taste. Prepare to do some experimenting to find your favorite flavor profiles though. Here are the ground rules for some of the most popular seasonings, and the best ways to incorporate them.
Garlic Adds Aroma
Fresh garlic is one of the best seasonings you can add to sautéed vegetables because it enhances the flavors of your dish. The sharp, bitter and almost biting flavor as well as concentrated pungent aroma of raw garlic become more mellow.
Heat a sauté pan and add enough oil to completely cover the bottom of the wok or pan. Peel off the outer skin and cut the garlic cloves into thin slices. When the oil starts to sizzle toss the garlic into the wok or pan. After the garlic has turned a golden color keep it off the bottom of the wok or pan to prevent from charring. Add vegetables. Pour in two tablespoons of water. Cook covered for one minute. Then sauté the vegetables uncovered. Stir the vegetables and garlic frequently, cooking for four minutes or until the vegetables have reached their desired tenderness.
Coriander Adds Sweet Spice
As the seeds of the cilantro plant, coriander gives sautéed vegetables a sweet spiciness, a citrus aroma and fresh, herbal fragrance. Coriander seeds can be purchased whole or grounded.
Sauté vegetables in oil and cook covered with two tablespoons of water for two minutes. Add ground coriander. Stir frequently to evenly distribute the ground coriander. Cook uncovered for four minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Pepper Adds a Little Spice
Sautéing with ground pepper adds an element of spice to vegetables like turnips and celery, and reduces the bitterness that can sometimes come from the skin on eggplants. It also enhances naturally subtle flavors by adding complexity.
Pour enough cooking oil to cover the bottom of the wok or pan, and warm up under medium heat. Add sliced or diced vegetables. Pour two tablespoons of water into the wok or pan. Cook covered for two minutes. Distribute ground pepper evenly over the vegetables with a light hand. Sauté the vegetables for four minutes. Stir often until tender.
Ginger Adds A Zesty Bite
Ginger is a versatile spice with several health benefits that can be used to season sweet as well as savory dishes. It's related to bamboo, turmeric and cardamom and its zest, spiciness and acidity enhance the subtle flavors of many vegetables. Slice, julienne or mince ginger when using it to season sautéed vegetables.
Heat oil in a pan under medium heat. Toss the ginger in the heated oil and cook until it turns a darker shade of yellow. Add two tablespoons of water. Place the vegetables into the pan. Stir the vegetables and ginger so that the ginger is evenly distributed. Cook covered for two minutes. Then cook uncovered for an additional four minutes. Stir frequently until tender.
Based in Virginia Beach, Mark S. Baker has been working in editorial for more than 20 years. He has served as a writer and editor for publications such as the "Houston Post," "Boca Raton News" and "Interactive Week," among others. Baker also has a culinary arts degree from Johnson & Wales University and has his own catering business.