Cooking Veggies? Think Aromatic

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Vegetarian food may sound bland, but it needn't be. Plenty of aromatics—such as onions, garlic, a small amount of spices and fresh herbs—can make a world of difference.

For this vegetable dish, a mini-food processor can finely mince the aromatics in no time. I find the tiny pieces of garlic and ginger yield a nice mellow flavor in little cooking time. Ultimately, the spice level in any recipe is a matter of taste, so be judicious. And always add the fresh herbs at the end.

There, oh-so-not-boring vegetarian food.

Indian Spiced Chard and Potatoes

Active Work Time: 15 minutes

Total Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Serve this with basmati rice.

2 tablespoons oil

1 cup minced onions

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons minced ginger root

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 bunch white Swiss chard, leaves and stalks thinly sliced

3/4 pound small new potatoes, quartered

1/2 cup vegetable broth

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring just until they start to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom, salt and cayenne. Cook, stirring, until the garlic, ginger and spices are very fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add the chard, potatoes and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the lime juice and cilantro, then serve.

4 servings. Each serving: 194 calories; 586 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 8 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 29 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 3.74 grams fiber.

Mango and Coconut Salad

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Look for black mustard seeds at Indian markets.

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut

1/2 small dried red chile

1/8 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1/8 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon brown sugar


2 mangoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

Combine the coconut, red chile, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, sugar and about 2 tablespoons of water in the bowl of a food processor. Process just until the ingredients are well combined and are just starting to form a coarse paste, about 15 seconds.

Toss the coconut mixture with the mangoes and chill.

4 servings. Each serving: 179 calories; 9 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 15 grams fat; 13 grams saturated fat; 13 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.82 gram fiber.


Indian spiced chard and potatoes

Basmati rice

Mango and coconut salad


Brown sugar


Cayenne pepper



Cumin seeds







1 bunch green Swiss chard


Unsweetened coconut


Black mustard seeds

3/4 pound small new potatoes

Vegetable broth


30 minutes before: Mince onion, garlic and ginger. Measure cumin, coriander, cardamom, salt and cayenne. Slice chard. Quarter potatoes.

20 minutes before: Begin making chard.

15 minutes before: Make rice and mango salad.

Just before serving: Add lime juice and cilantro to chard.