Ginger. Leeks. Chili Peppers. Brazilian Refogado.
What do these things have in common? They are all aromatic vegetables that can be used to bring enhanced flavor to soups, sauces, stews and almost any kind of recipe.
Aromatics deliver deep, delicious flavor and aroma when crushed or heated. Other aromatics include garlic, onions, shallots, scallions, carrots, celery, peppers, parsnips and many more.
The best part of aromatics is that they add flavor without the use of unhealthy fat, sugar or salt.
Don’t underestimate the nutritional value of aromatic vegetables. Here are just a few examples of aromatics that can benefit both your recipes and your health:
Scallions can be used raw in grain or potato salads and salsas or cooked in pastas, stir-fry dishes or omelets, provide fiber, potassium and vitamin A.
Pungent, delicious garlic can actually reduce the risk of stomach colorectal and prostate cancers.
You can grill leeks in pasta dishes, and they are the main ingredient in vichyssoise soup. They are also a natural source of inulin — a soluble fiber — and provide vitamin A and C, folate and manganese.
Ginger is rich in antioxidants and believed to reduce nausea and symptoms of vertigo. It also provides vitamin C, magnesium and potassium and rocks an unmistakable savory flavor in many types of dishes.
Celery can be used as a crunchy low-calorie snack or a substantial ingredient in soups and salads. It provides Vitamin A, C and K and potassium, as well as quercetin — a flavonoid with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and heart-protecting properties.
Here are some tips for the use of aromatics in your recipes.
– Always use fresh aromatics for the best, freshest flavor and texture.
– Let the taste and aroma of these vegetables work. Don’t weigh down your recipe by cooking them in fats and oils. Saute or sweat them in small amounts of oil, broth, juice or water.
You can sweat vegetables by cooking them in a tightly covered pot. The vegetables will soften without browning.
– Chop veggies for even cooking, making sure heartier ones — like carrots and parsnips — are cut smaller so that they can cook through at the same rate as onions and garlic.
Barbara Parks is a registered dietitian at Saint Vincent Health Center.via Aromatics: A healthy alternative to fat, sugar and salt | GoErie.com/Erie Times-News.