For the past nearly two years, I've been on a quest....you might call it a mission.....to try to help my husband like (and not even just tolerate, but actively want to eat) vegetables. Keep in mind that this is a man who, when we first started dating, would pick even small pieces of onion out of spaghetti sauce and wouldn't dream of touching a substance like vegetable lasagna (despite the fact that lasagna is his favorite food).
He feared that all vegetables were bland, had a bad texture and weren't worth eating. I've turned him around to the point where he prefers some vegetables over others (and even says "mmm" while looking at the bowl), but never fails to have at least one serving (and sometimes two!) Granted, I haven't brought forth the much feared and maligned lima bean yet, but I have him somehow believing that I can make lima beans worth eating (I, for one, am not sure that lima beans are ever actually worth eating).
I've found the key to this transformation has been adding flavor to the vegetables through seasoning and, often, a sauce. I try to use sauces that enhance the flavors of the veggies (like a cheese sauce with broccoli, for example).
Here is a simple recipe that combined his love of spicy foods (speaking of which, he will eat anything, if covered in buffalo sauce) with the desire to have sauce on the vegetables. (Yes, yes, there's quite a bit of butter, but hey, vegetables plus a little butter is better than no vegetables at all, right??) I served this to my extended family at Christmas and it disappeared....always a good testimony. The spiciness really balances out the natural sweetness of carrots, and when combined with salt and black pepper, brings forward a very well rounded flavor.
Sweet and Spicy Glazed Carrots
6-8 carrots, washed, peeled and cut into rounds
1 tsp sambal (a garlic chili paste found in the asian food aisle)
3 tbsp butter
2-3 tbsp brown sugar
generous pinch kosher salt
10-15 grinds black pepper
Boil cut up carrots in generously salted water until fork tender. Drain and let steam dry slightly.
Meanwhile, melt butter and brown sugar together in a pan over medium low to medium heat until slightly bubbly. Add salt, pepper and sambal (be careful, it will splatter if the pan is too hot!) and stir together. Once cooked together, add carrots and toss to coat. Voila!