This is a great question (and one of the subjects of Chapter 6 of Mindless Eating), but here's a quick example of how vegetables can make a meal tastier if they are served in the main dish and not off to the side.
A number of years ago I flew back for my Aunt Eileen’s 90th birthday party in Iowa. After a rousing out-of-tune rendition of “Happy Birthday,” and a round of Wal-Mart birthday cake, Aunt Eileen fell soundly asleep in her chair. It reminded me of most of my birthdays. Later that night we all had a tuna casserole dinner –a very good casserole dinner. But something was different. It didn’t have any rice, or potatoes, or pasta in it. What it had was a double-load of vegetables. Some were frozen, some fresh, some canned.Some were probably according to the recipe, but most were pretty much random. It didn’t matter; it tasted great.
What an overlooked idea. These vegetables gave the casserole a whole lot more flavor than the blah-tasting carbs we put in by habit.
We've used this every week since in my kitchen. If vegetables go in the dish, we make it a double-load and no one ever complains.
For 30 years my Lab and I have focused on discovering secret answers to help people live better lives. Some of these relate to health and happiness (and often to food). Please share whatever you find useful.
This video of one of my post-docs gives a flavor of one type of research that we've done: