(MayoClinic.com) Vegetables are often relegated to the side of the plate, but they can easily stand alone or even become the featured food. Try new ways of serving up the four or more daily servings of vegetables recommended by the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid.
Vegetables are actually quite versatile, and, as a nutritional powerhouse, they can form the foundation of your healthy-eating plan. These 10 entrees put vegetables in the spotlight and add interest and color to your healthy diet.
- Portobello mushroom burger. Marinate a large portobello mushroom in French or Italian dressing or make your own marinade with 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon olive oil, a clove of minced garlic, salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes on each side. Serve on a bun or alone.
- Spring greens with butternut squash. Add 1 cup spring greens or leaf lettuce to a plate. In a small bowl, mix together 1/4 cup cooked butternut squash, 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Top the greens with the squash mixture, 1/2 tablespoon sunflower seeds and 1 teaspoon honey.
- Asparagus, tomato and red pepper French bread pizza. Arrange French bread slices on a baking sheet. Add pizza sauce and a mixture of diced asparagus, Roma tomatoes, red bell peppers and minced garlic. Sprinkle lightly with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 400 F until the cheese is lightly browned and the vegetables are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Grilled vegetable kebabs. Brush cherry tomatoes, button mushrooms, zucchini slices, red onions and bell peppers with Italian dressing. Place onto skewers and grill over medium heat, turning often, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes.
- Asparagus with almonds. In a skillet, add 1/4 pound chopped asparagus and 1/4 cup water. Simmer until the asparagus is tender-crisp, about 4 to 6 minutes. Drain remaining water and stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Serve over 1/2 cup rice and top with roasted sliced almonds.
- Italian vegetables with pasta. In a heavy skillet, add chopped sweet onions, red peppers, yellow summer squash, zucchini squash, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 minced garlic cloves and 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning. Saute until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Serve over cooked pasta and prepared pasta sauce.
- Honey-glazed sweet potatoes. Peel and chop 4 large sweet potatoes. Toss with a mixture of 1/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons honey and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Arrange on a baking sheet. Cover with foil and bake at 375 F for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes until the glaze is thick and the potatoes are tender.
- Corn and barley salad. In a bowl, add 1 sliced cucumber, 2 cups cooked barley, 2 cups cooked corn and 3/4 cup chopped red bell peppers. Stir in the following dressing: 3 tablespoons white vinegar, 1 tablespoon water, 1 1/2 teaspoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Marinate for at least 2 hours before serving.
- Fresh vegetable soup. In a large pot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and chopped vegetables, such as onions, carrots, green beans and celery. Saute until tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, 3 cups water, sliced potatoes (peeled), and season with salt, pepper and parsley. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Vegetable pita pockets. In a small bowl, add cauliflower and broccoli florets, sliced green onions, diced tomatoes and cucumbers, and 1 1/2 teaspoons low-fat buttermilk or cucumber ranch salad dressing. Cut 1 whole-wheat pita bread in half and fill each half with the vegetable mixture and 1 tablespoon crumbled feta cheese. Warm in the microwave about 40 seconds.
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