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Our vegetable journey has been a long one. Decades of steamed, mushy, pale vari-colored grossness.
Then a fellow camper gave us a revelation. Vegetables could be good! Flavorful, bright, and easy. All you need are an abundance of veggies, a cast iron skillet, some fat, some spices, and a little imagination.
We ran with it and have created some really flavorful dishes. Our vegetable intake has quadrupled. And I say quadrupled only because I don’t know the world for multiplied by a million.
Exaggeration? Not really.
But I was intimidated. Vegetables are scary. The buying. The storing. The cooking. And how do you know what spices? I still don’t know. But I’m experimenting. And aside from one accidentally very spicy dish, it has been glorious.
Let me share my newest non-recipe vegetable dish with you.
I started like I always do…with whatever I had on hand and looked like a pretty color combination. Rocket science, right?
This time it was sweet potatoes, zucchini, sweet onion, and portobello mushrooms.
I had some breakfast sausage in the fridge and figured, why not? I fried up the sausage into little patties to prep the pan. Once it had all those good little sausage bits stuck to the bottom of it, I tossed in some butter.
Can we pause for a minute to talk about butter? It should be real. It should be yellow. It should be good enough to freeze and eat like candy. I digress…
Chop your vegetables to a uniform size. Don’t worry about measuring. Now is a great time to go with what you feel.
I gave the sweet potatoes and onions a headstart in the pan, stirring them around to coat them in the delicious butter, grease, sausage bits. Then I added the mushrooms, giving them a quick stir as well before digging out the spices.
Salt, pepper, and garlic from the squeezee tube are pretty standard for all dishes. I grabbed out the squeezee tubes for ginger and Italian Herbs as well, but as I gazed lovingly into my cast iron skillet I was struck by inspiration.
I threw the Italian Herbs back into the refrigerator and rushed to the spice cabinet. I grabbed the garam masala and nutmeg.
Let me insert a word of caution here. Spices can escalate very quickly. Salt, pepper, and garlic are generally a Go With What You Feel thing. All other spices are a slow add. I’ve found that ginger, any kind of pepper, and garam masala can become overwhelming very easily. I’m spice excitable so I only add half of what I think I need. And by what I need I really mean what smells and looks pretty. Heart science not rocket science.
Oh. I added the zucchini right before the spices. In retrospect I would have added it at the same time as the mushrooms. I ended up the sweet potatoes slightly more mashable and the zucchini a bit firmer than what I wanted. Didn’t matter though because it was still delicious.
Taste your veggies. Check for texture and flavor. If they’re still a bit firmer, cook them longer. If they’re not flavorful enough, add a bit more spice.
Play around with temperature too. I like for my pan to be super hot when I first toss the veggies in so I get a good caramelization on the outside and then I turn the heat down to finish them off.
Now that we’ve wandered off course a bit, your vegetables should be done. Pair them with some sausage and enjoy. If you have any leftovers, stick them in a quesadilla. Trust me, leftover vegetables quesadillas are AMAZING.