Great Tip: Precook a Week's Worth of Vegetables

Chef and food writer Tamar Alder has just published an unusual, mostly prose-style cookbook called An Everlasting Meal. I'm in the middle of reading it and have so far found it quite enjoyable and helpful. One tip I'm very happy to have learned also actually surprised me, because it's somewhat counter intuitive: cook up all your produce when you arrive home from the market, store them in jars in your refrigerator and make your meals from this bounty throughout the week. I decided to give it a try last week and this is what happened. I found Ms. Adler's suggestion to cook up all my vegetables right away surprising because the reason we get fresh vegetables is exactly because of that freshness. Pre-cooked is what we're avoiding, right? Well, not really. If we home cook our vegetables (mostly by roasting them, which really concentrates their flavors) we then have a large palette to choose from while building our meals throughout the week. This is especially helpful if you need to get your meals on the table quickly, when the idea of roasting beets or carrots every time you need them may actually prevent you from using them.

So I gave this a try and roasted up some carrots, turnips, cauliflower and beets. I wilted a few bunches of greens and blanched some broccoli. All this went into containers in the refrigerator, where they sat like jewels, just waiting for my hunger and imagination. Throughout the week I made sandwiches and salads, rice bowls and soups and last-minute stews. I topped pizzas and made pastas and heated up little mixed medley side dishes.

It was really wonderful to reach into my refrigerator and pull out a few beet slices to tuck into a sandwich, for example. If the beets were't pre-cooked, I would have never done this. I think I ate better because my vegetables were so handy and for the first time in a long time, I didn't guiltily throw something away because I didn't get around to cooking it. Things did run a bit low towards the end of the week and so I may adopt this as a twice a week project from now on. Thanks, Tamar!

• For more information about Tamar Alder and to see her videos on this very subject (How to Stride Ahead, parts I & II), visit her website.

Related: How To Quick Roast Vegetables Under the Broiler

(Image: Dana Velden)

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