How to Cook Vegetables

“Eat your vegetables!”

Sounds simple enough. But did anyone tell you how to eat your vegetables? Raw is great for your health and a quick, satisfying snack…but let’s not be boring about things. When it comes to vegetables, there really is no wrong way to eat them. Some kinds are more conducive to certain cooking methods, though, so let’s look at some ways we can cook ’em up!

Steamed VegetablesSteam, Blanche or Boil?

For most vegetables, the longer they cook the more nutrients are lost. Steaming seals them in much better than if they are soaking and boiling in water for a long period of time. Steamed veggies look delicious, too, as it brings out the color in an incredible way. To keep flavor (and nutrients!) high, check them when their color is super bright- you will probably find that they are “crisp/tender.” Mushy isn’t the goal here.

Some vegetables, like green beans, are great blanched, which means you boil for just a bit and then put them in icy water to stop the cooking. This keeps them from continuing to steam and cook in the bowl even after you remove it from heat.

If you do boil your veggies- mashed potatoes, artichokes and corn on the cob come to mind- consider re-using the cooking water, as that is where the nutrients that cook out have gone. Potato water is good in gravy, and you could throw in scrap veggies and boil out a homemade vegetable stock.

Bake or Broil?

Winter squash and root vegetables are fantastic in the oven, and that doesn’t mean “just” baked squash. Mix up a bunch of chopped root vegetables in olive oil and bake on high heat, stuff half of a baked acorn squash with…well, anything. Oven-fry potatoes and sweet potatoes and even carrots. Broil some zucchini with parmesan. Make kale chips. Just plan to keep an eye on whatever you’ve got in the oven, and you can’t really go wrong experimenting.

For a slower bake, I set my oven between 375 and 425 F, and for a faster brown/broil, I set it to 450 or 500 F or a low broil setting.

Vegetable Stir Fry

Sautee or Stir-Fry?

Another option is to hit the stove. To sautee- which works really well with greens and more tender vegetables- just keep some water or a tiny bit of oil or butter in the pan. You aren’t frying anything here, just letting it wilt (if it’s greens) or soften a bit. Mushrooms and onions or spinach and garlic (or all four together!) come to mind.

Perhaps my favorite way to cook vegetables, though, is to stir fry them. The combinations can be endless, and it makes for a hearty, one-pot-wonder meal. Or, if you’ve got some rice working, it’s just as good as part of a two-pot meal. The rules are simple: Chop veggies. Heat pan. Stir. Olive oil is my go-to, but I’ve used coconut oil, butter and dashes of sesame oil, all with great success.

Of course, you can’t forget grilling and shredding and stewing and pureeing…

How about it? How do you cook vegetables?

Photo credits to GoodNCrazy and Satoru Kikuchi

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