Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cooking techniques: how to blanch vegetables

Cooking techniques: how to blanch vegetables

What is blanching? Blanching vegetables is a simple cooking technique that includes cooking vegetables very briefly in boiling water and then submerging them in ice-water or running them under cold water to stop the cooking. You're left with very brightly colored vegetables that are like al dente pasta; crisp tender and lovely. You have also taken apart (ie denatured) the enzymes in the vegetables, so they'll stay fresh for longer.

I demonstrated this technique with asparagus, but it works well with green beans, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots too!

What do you do with these veggies? Lots of things; blanched vegetables make a great base for simple salads when tossed with a vinegarette. Blanched veggies also look prettier on a vegetable tray; you can try dipping them into balsamic black bean hummus.

You can also use this technique to prepare vegetables for storage in the freezer. If you didn't take the time to blanch the produce, it wouldn't last as long in the freezer. Place blanched veggies into zip top bags and remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. By saving seasonal produce for later, we get to take advantage of the produce at its peak of freshness and nutrition and best price.

I also like to pop an over-easy egg on top of blanched veggies for a simple meal.

Trim ends from veggies

Drop into boiling water just long enough to develop bright color and to soften

Run under cold water or submerge in ice water; your veggies are ready to go!
Blanched asparagus topped with an over-easy egg and feta cheese
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