Add Vanilla Bean To Your Butter For Richer, Sweeter Roasted Vegetables

Vanilla tends to be associated with sweet treats and desserts. Warm with floral notes and honeyed nuances, it's used to flavor anything from cakes to cookies to custards and creams. Yet, there is a duality to vanilla. Beyond its creamy sweetness, it can be woodsy, earthy, and spiced — traits that make it a match for savory ingredients. Since it can take some time to wrap your head around using vanilla in recipes that don't involve generous amounts of sugar, we recommend starting off slowly and using vanilla-laced butter to transform roasted vegetables.

Sort-of-sweet, yet sort-of-savory, roasted vegetables are the perfect pairing for vanilla butter. Acting as a flavor enhancer, the infused butter both accentuates and balances. Essentially, the sweetly decadent profile of vanilla nicely contrasts against earthier vegetables, all the while complimenting the caramelized quality that roasting imparts. Using butter as a vessel for flavor also benefits texture as it keeps vegetables tender and moist, but still allows them to brown and crisp up slightly.

Making and using vanilla butter is simple

Vanilla bean butter requires a vanilla bean, there is no way around it. In comparison to using extract, scraping the seeds of a pod will ensure the freshest and most vibrant flavors. Working with a bean is also just as easy since after the seeds have been collected, all you need to do is add them to a saucepan with a stick of butter over low heat. As the butter melts and eventually browns, the vanilla will simultaneously be infused. Once the mixture is fragrant, remove it from the heat and drizzle over the vegetables prior to roasting.

If you're at a loss for which produce exactly to use, rest assured that there really is no wrong answer. Naturally sweet vegetables like different types of squash are an awesome match for vanilla butter. Carrots, sweet potatoes, and parsnips also work well. In fact, even vegetables with a warm and nutty profile like Brussels sprouts or purple asparagus can complement the decadent butter. Otherwise, it can offset the earthiness of an onion or grassier greens like spinach, peas, or green beans.

Despite that roasted vegetables coated in vanilla bean butter are a pretty stellar side dish no matter what they accompany, we recommend serving them alongside something savory like a steak or juicy burger — your tastebuds will be begging for more.