Vegetables: From Blah to Fabulous
As a rule, Americans tend to eat vegetables because they are healthy, not because they are delicious. But it needn’t be that way. With just a two simple techniques, you can easily turn your vegetables into something so scrumptious they’ll become a favorite part of your meals.
The French are well known for cooking scrumptious veggies. As Julia Child once wrote, the French aren’t afraid to cook vegetables in a way that’s “upsetting to those very Americans who weep in delighted remembrance of vegetables in France.”
So if you want vegetables to savor at every meal, set aside your preconceptions and try the French techniques of blanching and refreshing.
Blanching is the favorite French way of preparing vegetables. It keeps veggies attractive and colorful. It also prevents overcooking, which leads to poor texture, taste, and a loss of vitamins and minerals.
To blanche, simply drop just-prepared vegetables into a pot of boiling water. Seven to 8 quarts of water should be used for every 2 to 3 pounds of vegetables. Use too little water, and it will take the liquid too long to return to a boil after you place the vegetables in the pot, resulting in poorly cooked food.
The faster the water re-boils, the fresher and tastier the vegetables are going to be.
How long you boil the vegetables depends on what type of veggie you’re cooking. When done, the vegetables should be tender but still crisp. Softer vegetables usually don’t need more than a half or whole minute in the pot. Tougher vegetables only need up to 6 minutes.
Blanching is also a handy time-saving technique. While preparing meals, if you find you have a few extra minutes, prepare extra vegetables by this method. Once they are cool, pat them dry and freeze them in serving size freezer bags.
Then, when you need them, drop a bag into cold water and the vegetables will quickly thaw.
Once the vegetables are blanched, they should be refreshed right away. To refresh, drop the vegetables into ice water for several minutes, until completely cool.
This prevents the vegetables from cooking any further, which results in poor taste and texture (and depletes the food of its vitamins and minerals).
This technique of blanching then refreshing is also convenient, as it allows you to cook vegetables ahead of time.
If you don’t want to serve the vegetables cold, reheat them until just the right temperature, and serve immediately.
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Vegetables From Blah to Fabulous