Although spring is upon us and we should be taking full advantage of farmers' markets and fresh grocery store offerings, sometimes the frozen veggies still come in handy for last-minute dinner convenience. back is what's for dinner. In an effort to make them taste, less, well, frozen, here are five ways to help get the most flavor from our freezer friends!
The first thing to remember is that frozen vegetables actually can be quite good (and good for you). Usually vegetables are flash-frozen soon after picking and retain plenty of nutrients and flavor. There's a difference in texture, of course, from freezing, but sometimes this actually works to your advantage.
Take a look at my tips and share your own!
1. Steam, Don't Boil: The quickest way to icky up a batch of frozen vegetables is to boil them. If you don't have the time or inclination to bust out the steamer basket and boil water, put them in the microwave with a little water. Just make sure that your water only goes 1/3 of the way up the side of the veggies and cook just until warmed through. That said, if you have time, bust out the stovetop steamer and treat 'em right!
2. Season Them Well: I have two tried and true standards. Sure you can get creative and add fresh herbs or compound butters, but in reality, if I'm short enough on time that I'm using frozen vegetables, I only have time to reach for a few basic things. Here are my favorites:
3. Avoid Cooking Before Adding To a Recipe:
- Salt + Pepper + Butter = Nothing in that list is rocket science by any means, it's as basic as basic gets, but sometimes getting the most flavor from something means keeping it simple.
- Chile Flake + Honey + Lemon Juice = This combination of a little sweet and a little spicy with a bit of citrus is a great one. It works for fresh and frozen veg alike and will make any boring side dish into something special. Just sprinkle on, sauté and serve.
It's easy to use frozen vegetables in things like stir-fry, casseroles, pastas and more. They cook so quickly that keeping them frozen until adding them to your dish will help guard them from turning to mush in your mouth.
4. Buy Only What You'll Use: Sure sales can be enticing, but buying foods you actually use is key to enjoying what you're cooking. I religiously buy frozen pearl onions as I don't have to slip them from skins and they go through my food processor like a champ. But you will never, ever catch me buying frozen broccoli for a rainy day. Fresh broccoli is just as easy and quick. Plus, knowing you got a good deal on something you actually want to eat is a double bonus.
5. Don't Use Them For Simple Dishes: Although this sounds counterintuitive, when the main flavor of a dish is going to come from a few simple ingredients, try to choose fresh instead. Although frozen vegetables are flash frozen at the peak of freshness (or so their packages tell me), they don't taste as awesome as fresh. That's no secret. As an add in to your mac and cheese, though, sure! If you're only having steak and Brussel sprouts... pass.
Do you have any tricks up your sleeve for making frozen veg suck a little less? Which seasonings does your household love? Share your tips and tricks below!
This post was requested by sprite for Reader Request Week 2013!
(Image: Faith Durand)