Treating your food truck veggies with the same respect you would a nice cut of meat and knowing how to cook them and which seasonings might enhance them is critical to a food truck’s menu. Whether it’s a deeply golden-brown portobello mushroom to top a veggie burger or roasted corn and chiles for a quinoa-chipotle salad; many food trucks feature vegetables across all menu options.
Many mobile chefs have found ways to leverage the farmer’s bounty into satisfying vegetarian main courses or side dishes that really stand out. Here are some flavor-amplifying cooking methods, herbs, spices and sauces from food truck owners who are amplifying veggie volume.
Pump Up The Volume Of Your Food Truck Veggies
Dry heat can bring out the best in vegetables. The naturally occurring sugars are browned while roasting (caramelization), and that brings out a new sweetness. You have to know how to treat the vegetables because a dish can be served so right, but you can also serve it so wrong.
It’s important to cut vegetables uniformly so they cook at the same rate and cover the roasting pan with foil for most of the cooking time to keep some moisture in the vegetables. In addition, like vegetables should be roasted together (i.e. a pan of carrots, a pan of diced squash), as cooking times will not be the same from veggie to veggie.
If you want to elevate oven-roasted vegetables try splashing some red wine in the pan. This gives the vegetables a layer or richness, and by the time they come out of the oven, a rich burgundy color.
When grilling food truck veggies such as Brussels sprouts, blanch them first (just a bit), this will make them tender and still allow them to get an amazing char, halved and face down on a grill, with some olive oil and lemon pepper. As with roasting, food truck chefs can use grilling as a time-saving technique: grill vegetables beforehand, and have them ready for cook-to-order sandwiches, pasta and sides.
Marinating creates layers of flavor to your food truck veggies and adds a little variance. It adds appeal by making vegetables more interesting with sweet or sour or savory flavors. You can grill vegetables (which have been marinated in olive oil, vinegar and fresh herbs), then toss them with a light cream sauce and serves over pasta, making for a vegetarian main dish with punch.
Seasoning with Herbs and Spices
While there’s no denying the wisdom of keeping things simple in terms of seasoning vegetables, sometimes just one or two added spices can take things over the top—but in a good way. Simple salt and pepper and minimal oil to enhance vegetables’ natural flavors is preferred, but aside from basic seasoning, it’s important to understand other seasonings and flavors that might enhance them.
You can roast cauliflower with paprika, this will give additional flavors which work best to bring out the flavors in chicken or beef.
Here are some of our favorite food truck veggie/herb/spice pairings:
- Ginger works really well with orange vegetables; carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash
- Basil (fresh) can enhance just about any vegetable, usually added raw at the end of the recipe, chiffonaded.
- Cardamom brings out the flavors of vegetables cooked in a curry.
- Cinnamon plus winter squash equals balanced flavors.
- Cumin is great on fresh-picked summer veggies such as green beans, corn, tomatoes, zucchini and summer squash.
Chimichurri comes up often in conversation about amplifying veggie volume. No wonder: it’s one of the most vibrant sauces around. Argentinean in origin, chimichurri is a zesty combination of chopped parsley, oregano, red chiles, garlic, lemon zest, vinegar and olive oil. Food truck owners can toss roasted vegetables in with their chimichurri, which will become a menu item that vegetarians really appreciate.
You can switch things up a bit by using grilled vegetables as a sauce. Charred, pureed poblano peppers become a light cream sauce that goes wonderfully on angel hair pasta. A grilled sweet Vidalia onion vinaigrette can become a signature salad dressing or a topping for grilled vegetables.
We hope this article sheds some light on the use of food truck veggies on your trucks menu. If you have any additional tips on this topic, share your thoughts in the comment section section below or on social media. Facebook | Twitter