10 Restaurant Secrets to Creating an Incredible Meal


Side Dishes, Not Afterthoughts

Don't forget your vegetables. You need them to stay healthy.
Don't forget your vegetables. You need them to stay healthy.
Photo courtesy of Heather Kolich, 2009

We know we should eat them, but many Americans don't exactly harbor great love for vegetables. Maybe it's because we treat them so badly, dumping a can of beans into a sauce pot or microwaving the life out of frozen medleys. We've relegated vegetables to unappetizing, second-class status.

But veggies are an important part of the meal, and Jamie Oliver of the London restaurant Fifteen (and also TV fame) offers some advice for bringing vegetables back into favor at the dinner table.

"Cook the greens with your full attention," he says. Broccoli, asparagus, cabbage and zucchini should be cooked past the al dente point but not as far as mushy. Oliver's method is to put the vegetables into boiling salted water, and periodically take a piece out and eat it to test for doneness. Then he recommends draining the water out with a colander and placing the vegetables on a clean kitchen towel to soak up the remaining water. While they're hot, season them with lemon juice, plenty of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. For a flavor twist, toss a few cloves of garlic into the cooking water before adding the greens; after draining the water, mash up the garlic and add it to the other seasonings.