A Top Chef’s 10 Secrets to Incredible Vegetables

At the hugely popular Squeaky Bean restaurant in Denver, the vegetable is king. Here, the Bean’s chef, Chris MacGillivray, offers ten tips to heighten and enhance a vegetable’s natural flavor:

1.  Keep it simple.

2.  Go to your farmers’ market; stay local.

3.  Use your grill—even in the winter, but especially in summer. And go beyond the typical grilled vegetables. For example, carrots are delicious grilled, he suggests.

4.  Try a fire pit. Place beets or onions in the leftover embers overnight after cookout. The result: Beautiful, smoky veggies that can be chopped into a salad.

5.  Go raw. Raw doesn’t get enough press, he says. One idea: Shave root vegetables thin on a mandolin. Toss these in favorite olive oil and champagne vinegar. Voilà!

6.  Bake vegetables in a cast-iron skillet at 400 degrees F, until caramelized and soft. Top with crumbled feta.

7.  Slow-cook vegetables to bring out their sweetness.

8.  If you have a juicer, juice some of the vegetables (such as carrots) and then cook the remaining vegetables in the juices for maximum flavor. Use a skillet and cook the vegetables and juice until a glaze forms around the vegetables. Asparagus is particularly good this way, he says.

9.  Pair with high-quality nut oils, such as hazelnut oil with carrots cooked in carrot juice, or almond oil with asparagus. Create simple but creative combos, such as roasted beets with crushed raspberries and hazelnut oil.

10.  Try a new vegetable. Rutabaga is underrated, he suggests. “When cooked well, it has a sweet, haunting flavor.” Try roasting rutabaga in salt crust (water and salt) for 1 to 1½ hours. Slice and serve with drizzled olive oil.