I love eating vegetables. When I first learned how to cook, I only knew two ways to serve vegetables. Obviously, things got boring after a while. So I started looking for other ways to prepare vegetables. Here are 9 basic ways to cook your vegetables.
For easy-to-digest raw vegetables, try the following: cucumber, celery, carrots, red/yellow/orange bell pepper, and summer squashes. For other options, try zucchini, leafy vegetables, and tomatoes. There are still many other vegetables you can try. A warning, though: not everyone has a digestive system that can handle raw vegetables. Just observe how your body reacts to each kind.
2. Blanching (Water)
Water blanching is the process of putting vegetables in boiling water for a short time. Blanching destroys enzymes that change the color and texture of the vegetables, thus giving them a bright color and crisp texture. How to blanch: Use one gallon of water for every pound of cleaned and trimmed vegetables. Bring the water to a boil. Place your vegetables in a blanching basket and lower into the water. If the water starts boiling again within 1 minute, then you used the right amount of water. If not, then you are using too many vegetables. Blanching time depends on the vegetable but you always start counting when the water returns to a boil. Don’t blanch too long or you will be serving mushy, tasteless vegetables.
Steamed vegetables can also be considered steam blanched. Steaming is a great way to retain the vegetables’ nutrients, color, flavor, and texture. Steaming is also very easy to do. Add enough water to fill the bottom pan of your steamer. Make sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan. Stack the steamer basket on top and cover. Bring the water to a boil and then add your vegetables. As with blanching, different veggies take different times to steam.
Roasting requires you to cook vegetables in the dry heat of an oven. It is best to use hard vegetables with low water content. Before roasting, clean your vegetables and slice them into uniform sizes. Arrange them on a greased or lined roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. You can flavor the veggies by sprinkling salt and pepper or other herbs and spices. Preheat your oven to 400°F to 450°F. When the oven is ready, slide in the roasting pan. While roasting, you should turn over the vegetables once or twice to keep them from sticking to the pan. Most vegetables will be ready in 15 to 20 minutes. Some will even be ready in 7-10 minutes. Roasting will give your vegetables a nice brown color and a sweet taste.
Panning is when vegetables are allowed to cook in the steam created by their own juices. This is very easy to do. Just add vegetables and a little oil in a fry pan. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper or with your favorite seasonings. Cover the pan and put the stove on medium heat. Stir the vegetables to prevent burning or sticking. In as little as 5-8 minutes, your vegetables will be ready.
6. Stir Frying
Stir frying requires a bit of skill, timing, correct temperature, and a wok. The idea is to put the wok in medium high heat so the juices are locked in during cooking. This prevents the vegetables from becoming soft and mushy. Make sure the vegetables are sliced in similar sizes in order to cook them evenly. Also make sure they are dry to reduce splatter. Once the wok is hot, put about three tablespoons of cooking oil, starting from the edge of the wok. At this point, you can add garlic, ginger, and even some chili. Vegetables should be added in the order of cooking time length; those that cook faster should be added last. When stir frying, don’t overcrowd the wok as this can lower the temperature. You should also keep the vegetables moving. In about 3 minutes, your vegetables will be ready. Sautéing is a similar cooking process.
Yes, you can grill your vegetables. It is very easy to do, too. The best vegetables for grilling are those with low water content. You can wrap the vegetables in tinfoil or you can place them directly on the grill. If you place them directly on the grill, then be sure to brush them with a little oil to avoid sticking or burning. You can also make vegetable kebabs. Instead of marinating the vegetables, you can sprinkle them with herbs and spices.
8. Deep Frying
Granted that this is not the healthiest way to cook veggies, but it definitely makes them more palatable and fun. Slice your vegetables into strips and then coat in batter. Deep fry them until golden brown. Serve with your favorite dip or sauce.
Pureed vegetables are not just for babies. It is an interesting way to serve vegetables to adults. Cook your chosen vegetables until they are tender. Allow them to cool a bit and then transfer to a blender. You can also use an immersion blender if you want to make things convenient. There are many ways to use pureed vegetables. You can use them in sauces, soups, dips, spreads, and many more!
Enjoying vegetables is as easy as enjoying other kinds of food. There is no limit to what you can do with them if you know these basic cooking techniques. You can make them as appetizing as you want them to be. Get moving and experiment on different vegetable dishes!
Top Photo Credit: Victor Keech