7 Great Ways to Cook Fresh Vegetables

7 Great Ways to Cook Fresh Vegetables images
7 Great Ways to Cook Fresh Vegetables images

How to Cook Fresh Vegetables

Are you a creature of habit in the kitchen and at the grocery store? Do you reach for the same carrots and celery for snacks, bagged greens for salads, and frozen veggies for dinnertime sides? It’s time to break out of your food rut. Learn a few basic cooking techniques, then head to the produce aisle and pick out something new. With very little time and effort, you can create crave-worthy veggie side dishes every night of the week.
 
Note: The smaller you cut your vegetables, the faster they will cook. Aim for bite-size pieces unless noted below. No matter how large or small your pieces are, be sure they are the same size to avoid uneven cooking.
 
For each cooking technique, you’ll need four cups prepared vegetables to yield four servings. If you’re cooking for fewer people, you can adjust the amounts or save extras for future meals.
 
Stir-fry

How to: Add 2 teaspoons olive oil to a skillet set over medium-high heat.
When the pan is hot, add the chopped veggies.
Cook, stirring often, until the veggies are tender yet crisp.
For flavor add one of the following:
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt-free seasoning blend
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic or ginger
  • low-sodium soy sauce or
  • miso paste
Good for: bell peppers, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, snow peas, celery, green beans, cabbage and carrots
Tip: Add “harder” vegetables such as broccoli and green beans first, then softer veggies like onions and peppers.

 
Roast

How to: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Cut your vegetables into uniform pieces.
Spread the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Drizzle on 2 teaspoons oil, sprinkle with pinch of salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon dried herbs.
Roast, stirring halfway through the cooking process:
  • 10-20 minutes for quick-cooking veggies
  • 20-30 minutes for long-cooking veggies
Good for: 
Quick-cooking vegetables:  mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini, summer squash, broccoli
Long-cooking vegetables:  sweet potatoes, white potatoes, carrots, turnips, butternut squash, and parsnips, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts

 
Veggie Casserole

How to: 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Coat a baking dish with a tight-fitting lid with cooking spray.
Add your vegetables, chopped into uniform pieces.
Add flavor with:
  • 2 teaspoons purchased pesto or
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil, oregano, parsley, thyme or rosemary
Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Good for: carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, green beans, onions, celery, cabbage
 

Faux Fry

How to: 
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil a baking sheet.

Slice your vegetables into long, thin strips and pat them dry with paper towels.
Assemble a dipping station. You’ll need two shallow with flat dishes, such as pie pans.

  • To the first, add 2 beaten egg whites
  • To the other, add 1 cup fine breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon dried parsley and 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
Spritz the vegetables with cooking spray, dip in the egg whites, then the bread crumb mixture.
Place vegetables in a single layer on the baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the vegetables once, until the crust is golden brown.
Serve with a dipping sauce such as salsa, hummus, pesto or tomato sauce.
Good for: green beans (no need to slice), eggplant, squash, onions, mushrooms or asparagus

 
Steam (Microwave or Stove)

How to: 
Slice the vegetables.
For the microwave: Place veggies in a microwave-safe dish with a tight-fitting lid. Add 1/4 cup water, cover and cook on high for 3-5 minutes.
For stove top steaming: Place veggies in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid, using a steamer basket if you have one. Add 1/4 cup water and cover. Cook on medium-high for 5-7 minutes, until the vegetables are crisp and bright yet slightly tender.
To add flavor, add 1 bay leaf or 2 lemon slices to the cooking water.
Good for: green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, snow pea pods, zucchini and summer squash

 
Grill

How to: 
Preheat an indoor or outdoor grill to medium.
Slice vegetables into 1/2 inch thick slices or strips.
Brush with reduced-fat Italian salad dressing or balsamic vinegar.
Grill for 5 minutes until the vegetables are crisp yet tender.
Good for: asparagus, eggplant, spring onions, bell peppers, zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, mushrooms
Note: Use a grill basket or skewers for small vegetables on an outdoor grill to prevent them from falling through the grates.

 
Parchment or Foil Packets

How to: 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place your chopped veggies on a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment.
Add flavor by:
  • Sprinkling with 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil, oregano or parsley
  • Layering 4 lemon slices on top veggies or
  • Adding 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Fold and seal the foil or parchment around the veggies to form a packet. 
Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender yet crisp.
Good for: sugar snap peas, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery and mushrooms

Chicken Noodle Soup

The perfect soup to warm your belly on a cold night or soothe you when you’re sick.

Minutes to Prepare: 10
Minutes to Cook: 90
Number of Servings: 12

Ingredients

Stock:
1 white or yellow onion, chopped into a large dice
2 stalks celery, chopped into a large dice
2 carrots, chopped into a large dice
3 pound whole chicken, skin removed
1 gallon cold water
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 carrots, cut into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
1 onion, diced fine
2 stalks celery, diced fine
4 ounces whole wheat pasta (cooked)
1 tsp thyme, dried
1/2 tsp oregano, dried
1 tsp basil, dried (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Tips

This is a slow-cooking dish, but you’ll get 12 servings from the soup, plus a quart of stock. This entire recipe cost just $8.41, about 70 cents a serving. That’s less than a can of soup!

My 11-year-old son helped prep the carrots. He created curls using a Y-shaped peeler.

I recommend freezing single portions of soup in freezer bags laid flat so you have some on hand the next time someone gets the sniffles or has a bad day. Nothing warms the soul like homemade chicken soup.

I used a kosher chicken, which cost a bit more. If you wait for chicken to go on sale, you can save more money.

I used farfalle (bowtie) pasta, but you could use penne, elbow macaroni or another bite-size shape.

You’re getting multiple meals from this versatile chicken soup recipe. That’s why we need two sets of vegetables: one set cut into a large dice for the stock part of the soup that you’ll use for another meal, and a second chopped into a small dice for the soup.

Directions

Remove the skin from the chicken.

Place the whole chicken in a large stock pot or saucepan that will hold at least one gallon of cold water.

Add the diced onion, celery, and carrots to the stock pot. Pour one gallon of cold water over the mixture and add the bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring the mixture to a boil and then immediately reduce to a simmer.

Allow the mixture to simmer for 45 minutes. Place a strainer over another large saucepan and strain the hot chicken mixture.

Strain the mixture a second time into the first pot using a coffee filter or cheesecloth. Reserve one quart of the stock for the freezer, and use the remaining for the soup. (Allow stock to cool to room temperature before freezing.)

In one of the stock pots, heat the oil and add the second batch of vegetables cut into the small dice. Sweat vegetables over low moderate heat for 5 to 8 minutes. While the vegetables are sweating, pull all the meat off the bones of the chicken.

Add the pasta, dried seasonings, and the pulled chicken meat to the pot simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
Recipe yields 3 quarts: 12 one cup servings.

Nutritional Info:
Servings Per Recipe: 12
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 152.8
Total Fat: 3.7 g
Cholesterol: 51.2 mg
Sodium: 76.1 mg
Total Carbs: 13.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.5 g
Protein: 17.4 g