Soon after we started dating, my boyfriend revealed that he didn’t like peas. Or green beans. Or broccoli or Brussels sprouts. He was averse to basically every vegetable your parents try to get you to eat as a kid, while I considered each and every one of them delicious. As we talked one night about why he didn’t care for broccoli, it became clear that he’d only experienced the overcooked, mushy stuff that some people try to pass off as a side dish. Then and there, I made it my mission to reintroduce him to these veggies — with the hope that he would grow to like at least a few of them.
Whether you’re trying to change your own opinion of a food you don’t like, or you’re trying to get someone else to, here are several tactics you can try.
If you’ve only ever experienced canned green beans, it’s no wonder you don’t like them. School cafeterias have given vegetables a bad rap with kids for decades. Give the greens a new start by buying them fresh from a farmers market, grocery store or specialty produce market. If the veggies in question are out of season and not looking so great, check the frozen section — many are excellent quality and a good alternative to fresh.
When you have a vegetable-hating companion who isn’t overeager to try new things, make whatever dish you’re trying out more familiar. If he likes it spicy, add a sprinkle of sriracha. If she’s got a sweet tooth, drizzle on a bit of honey. Pick something you know they like, and they’ll be that much more willing to give it a whirl.
A few weeks ago, a friend and I made roasted root vegetables. My boyfriend liked the sweet potatoes and parsnips (first-time trial for the parsnips), but wasn’t crazy about the Brussels sprouts. Several days later we had dinner at the home of a friend and professional chef, who also prepared Brussels sprouts. My boyfriend excitedly proclaimed them “not bad” and went back for seconds. The lesson? If you don’t like something prepared one way, go back and make it again another way. You just might surprise yourself.
The primary crime against many vegetables is a common one — overcooking. Some people like their veggies just fork tender, while others prefer them absolutely wilted, but in our experience veggies tend to be better when they’re cooked less, not more. Not to mention, cooking leaches out nutrients, so why overdo it?