Choices – Cooking Good Tasting Vegetables
Many people trying to cut calories don’t like cooked vegetables. But if prepared properly using the methods below, they will have a new appreciation for the healthy lifestyle staple:
- Stir Fried
Timing is the key to cooking vegetables with this method. When done properly, steamed vegetables are crisp, tasty and of course nutritious. Cauliflower takes about 20 minutes to cook in a steamer. Overcooking causes vegetables to lose their crispness and get mushy.
Unlike steaming, grilling vegetables requires using a dry heat. A favorite vegetable to grill is asparagus. Preheat your grill on a high setting. Lightly brush olive oil on the asparagus spears; salt and pepper to taste. Grill these for 2 to 3 minutes or until they are at your desired tenderness.
The key to roasting is to use a high-heat oven setting. This caramelizes the sugars in the vegetables thus locking in the flavor. One favorite recipe is to roast potatoes, onions and carrots. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Cut vegetables into bite-size pieces; brush pieces with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Roast in an uncovered pan for 30-40 minutes or until tender.
Stir Fried Vegetables
This method of cooking also uses a high heat, but is prepared on the stovetop. Cut vegetables into bite-sized pieces and meat (if used) into thin strips. Using a sauté pan, toss the mixture with a little healthy oil and herbs. Keep tossing with two large spoons while the mixture cooks. Do not overcook; vegetables should still be crisp when served.
Blanching is the best way to preserve the greatest amount of nutrients from your vegetables. To blanch, you simply bring a pot of water to a boil and submerge the cleaned, raw vegetable into the boiling water and remove after a few seconds. The trick is to get the vegetables hot without cooking them. Broccoli is good after about 10 seconds in steady boiling water, then season with a light sprinkle of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Simmering involves cooking vegetables initially at a boil and then reducing to a low heat while immersed in a liquid. Liquids can range from just plain water to broth or a soup stock.
To simmer, first cube the vegetables. With the vegetables in an uncovered pot, add enough liquid to cover them halfway. Add a small amount of olive oil, salt and other seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot and simmer until the vegetables are just tender.
Asparagus will take less than 5 minutes where denser vegetables like cabbage take 10 to 15 minutes. Finish off the vegetables by tossing them with a vinaigrette dressing, flavored olive oil, or some lemon juice and herbs.
Cooked vegetables do not have to be boring or mushy. Use these time-tested methods of cooking used by top chefs to wow your guests or family with great cooked and healthy vegetables.