Shock Your Vegetables

April6

My fresh vegetables always turn out soft after I cook them, even if I cook them for less time than I am supposed to. It doesn’t matter if I boil or steam them … they are always limp!

Limpness can be a drag… even when it comes to vegetables. But fortunately, there’s an easy solution, and one that will also bring more color to your plate, too.

What you add to the water will really affect the final appearance of the vegetables. Look at the chart below. For colors that really pop on the plate, try adding either an acid (like vinegar, citrus juice or milk) or salt to the water before boiling or steaming.

Vegetable:

Add a little of this to the cooking water:

To keep them:

Cauliflower, Celery Root, Kohlrabi, Parsley Root, Potatoes, Turnips, Onions, White Asparagus

Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Milk.

Add a little salt for seasoning

Bright White

Red or Purple Beets (with the skin on), Red Cabbage, Radishes

Vinegar, Lemon or Orange Juice

Add a little salt for seasoning 

Bright red or purple

Green Beans, Broccoli, Spinach, Peas, Lima Beans, Brussels Sprouts, Green Asparagus 

Salt (do NOT use baking soda)

Vivid Green 

You’ve fixed the water, now it’s time to blanch the vegetables to get them perfectly al dente (tender, but firm with no hard core). Blanching means that you stop cooking the vegetables (either boiling or steaming) a few minutes before they are completely done.

Immediately after blanching, shock your vegetables by putting them into a bowl filled with ice and cold water. You can either drain the vegetables in a colander and then plunge them into the icy water… or remove the vegetables with tongs and drop them in the cold water. Shocking stops the cooking and keeps the colors bright.

After a few shocking minutes, drain the vegetables thoroughly (you don’t want soggy vegetables, remember?) and set aside until you are ready to finish them. Finishing means you reheat and season them by sautéing, glazing or adding a sauce. I like to keep it simple and drop them in a pot of boiling water for a few seconds and then finish them with a few squeezes of lemon juice and a little bit of salt.

What you wind up with are beautiful, colorful vegetables that don’t droop when you pick them up… slightly crisp and delicious.

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6 thoughts on “Shock Your Vegetables

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Hi…
I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: mamashighstrung@gmail.com