Vegetables can be both the easiest and hardest things to cook since there are so many varieties of vegetables and so many ways to cook them. In today’s Cooking Lesson we are going to look at a few basic ways to prepare vegetables whether it be for a side dish or a step in preparing another recipe.
Blanching isn’t really my preferred way to serve vegetables, but it’s a necessary step in many recipes or when preparing many vegetables for storing in the freezer. It produces a bright, tender crisp vegetable, that is more likely to retain these characteristics during the next phase of cooking or storage.
- Cut your veggies – for once size does not matter because you’re not trying to cook these all the way through, just prepare them how you want.
- Prepare the waters – Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Nearby, prepare a large bowl of ice water. It’s also a good idea to prepare a plate with a clean towel to place the blanched vegetables to drain. Another trick is to place a colander in the ice bath and remove the vegetables that way.
- Blanch Away – Add a small batch of veggies to the boiling water, let them cook for 2 to 3 minutes before removing them with a slotted spoon and plunging them into the ice water. Repeat this until you have used up all of the vegetables.
- Drain – Once the vegetables are completely cooled remove them from the ice water and let them drain.
This is one of my favorite ways to prepare vegetables is a simple roast. It’s so easy that it’s nearly thoughtless, and I’m a really big fan of roast veggie salads in the winter (evidence: Beet Salad, Roasted Vegetable Tossed Salad, and Maple Chipotle Winter Vegetable Salad).
- Preheat your oven – The temperature depends on how well done you want your vegetables. I stick with 425 most of the time. Start here and adjust them temperature and cooking time as you learn what works best for your preferences.
- Cut your Vegetables – Firmer vegetables will need to be a little smaller than softer vegetables because they will take longer to cook. Similarly the large your vegetables, the longer they will take to cook.
- Oil them up – Once cut you’ll want to toss your veggies with some good tasting oil, and any spices you want to add. You want enough oil to give everything a good coat, but not so much that there are puddles underneath.
- Spread them Out – You want a bit of space between all the veggies, this is what will allow the edges to crisp up.
- Roast – Put them in the oven and roast until they are tender enough to pierce with a fork, and the edges have begun to crisp. You can keep cooking if you prefer more crispiness, just check them every couple of minutes so they don’t become overdone.
This is probably my second favorite way to prepare vegetables. It’s especially great for frozen vegetables, just be sure not to over steam them or you end up with mush.
- Cut the veggies – Here again, firmer vegetables will need to be a little smaller than softer vegetables because they will take longer to cook. For example, Carrots should be cut smaller than broccoli.
- Start the water – Put about an inch of water in a pan large enough to hold your steamer (you can do this without a steamer but then you’re really boiling the bottom parts of your vegetables, and they will be more done than the rest), and bring it to a boil. I use this steamer, but most people prefer one like this type of steamer.
- Start Cooking – Add your veggies to the steamer, cover and reduce the heat to low so that the water simmers. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes then check your veggies, they should just barely be able to be pierced with a fork when done. Firmer vegetables, like carrots, will need more like 6 to 8 minutes. Once they are just tender immediately remove them the steamer from the pot, or they will keep cooking.
Another super easy and fast method for cooking up vegetables, and one that you will likely see as a step in many recipes.
- Cut the veggies – Same thing again, firmer vegetables will need to be a little smaller than softer vegetables because they will take longer to cook.
- Heat oil – Using a saute pan heat the oil over medium-high heat. You don’t need too much oil, just enough to lightly coat the pan so the vegetables don’t stick.
- Cook the Veggies – Add the veggies to the hot pan and let them cook. Give them a stir or toss every so often to keep them from sticking and cooking unevenly. It looks like they are getting too browned on the outside, but are still firm in the middle, turn down the heat and let them cook a bit more. When tender and cooked through, remove from heat and serve.
The easiest, and coolest way to cook vegetables in the summer time. It’s also possible to do this inside with a grill pan.
- Cut the veggies – Yet again, firmer vegetables will need to be a little smaller than softer vegetables because they will take longer to cook. However, keep in mind that there are slots on a grill that may allow your veggies to fall through. Larger veggies like potatoes and even asparagus can be cooked right on a typical outdoor grill, but smaller sized vegetables should be placed in a grill basket.
- Preheat the grill – do this just like you would for anything else you’re going to cook on the grill.
- Oil them up – Just like when you roast veggies you want enough oil to give everything a good coat, but not so much that there are puddles underneath.
- Grill Away – Add the veggies to the grill or the grill pan, and like sauteing give them a stir or toss every so often to keep them from sticking and cooking unevenly. Once tender, and a little charred, remove from heat.
There you have it! 5 ways to prepare vegetables. There are about a million more methods that you can try out to cook vegetables, but these are probably the most common. Enjoy!