Two words: Roasted vegetables.
I learned to joys and versatility of roasting vegetables a couple of years ago from a good friend who is a chef and it has dramatically improved my overall cooking.
Almost any veggie can be roasted, and the flavor is often very different. Then these veggies can be used in salads, pasta, soups, sandwiches etc. To roast veggies, I line a cookie sheet with tinfoil, slice the veggies, rub them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper (but not always, sometimes I use a spice rub too) and put them on a cookie sheet in the oven at about 375 or 400 until they are soft. Sometimes I put them on the grill too, if I’m already grilling something or if I want a smoky flavor. For veggies that release a lot of juice (like beets) I wrap them in tinfoil too. Some of them are good chilled too, which is great for leftovers and to add to salads.
Some of my favorite recent creations:
-Roasted beets, chilled, tossed with grapefruit or orange slices and feta cheese, served with a little vinegar and oil.
–Roasted squash (butternut is AWESOME!) dusted with cinnamon.
–Roasted onions, especially sweet onions, served with any beef dish.
–Sweet potatoes, roasted and smashed with a little marscapone cheese and maple syryp-- it’s like a dessert!
–Roasted red peppers served on hot-sausage sandwiches.
I also roast any color pepper and add it to salads, and I’ve made a roasted veggie soup out of a lot of these combinations. Right now the soup we’re eating this week is roasted squash, sweet potato, onion and carrot. I just puree the veggies and add some broth and some spices. This week I added some curry, which is SUPER! Last week it was roasted red pepper and tomato, but it was flavored with the last of the basil from our garden. I also find that making soups like these save $$, since I’m able to use pretty much all of our veggies. And seldom does anything taste the same.
Hope this helps! Happy roasting!