Do your veggies need a little pep? If you’re as laid back in the kitchen as I am, you don’t want to have to go to great lengths to make a healthy meal. One of the easiest ways to fix your veggies is through a technique called blanching. With less equipment and time that it takes to steam, blanching provides all the nutritional value with a super fresh taste.
So how does it work? Whether you’re a novice in the kitchen or want to explore preparing your favorite vegetables in a new way, blanching is a pretty simple process. Essentially, all it takes is quickly boiling and then chilling your desired food. You dunk chopped raw vegetables in boiling water, remove and strain after a few minutes, and then swiftly submerge in an ice bath.
This method cooks the vegetables just enough to make them easier to digest, but not too much the way sautéing in oil or roasting can. Soggy brussels sprouts or mushy broccoli? No thanks! Blanched vegetables have a much snappier, crisper quality and can be served plain or drizzled with olive oil to create a flavorful, nutritionally dense dish.
The beauty of blanching is that it only takes about 10 minutes. All you have to do is bring a pot of water to a boil, toss in your chopped vegetables of choice, let cook for 3-4 minutes depending on the girth of the vegetable, and then transfer into cold water/ice bath for another 3 minutes.
This step of transferring the vegetables into cold water is what stops the cooking process dead in its tracks leaving you with veggies that retain their firm cellular membrane instead of turning into a sloppy mush.
I tend to blanch things that would take longer to steam, and veggies I wouldn’t dare eat raw. Not sure what to blanch? Some popular items are asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, and peas. My favorite thing to do is play around with different homemade dressings and simple vinaigrettes on bountiful, blanched, veggie-filled dinners.
If you’re feeling a little frisky and baking with a recipe that calls for nut flour, blanching is a great way to remove the skins and outer shells of nuts and seeds. Be careful not to overdo the boiling if using pistachios and/or almonds; they only need to sit in the boiling water for 60 seconds before transferring to ice water. Blanching makes it easy to pop nuts out of their shells for a variety of recipes.
As long as you don’t over-boil your vegetables, you kind of can’t go wrong with blanching. Give it a try with your next simple weeknight dinner. You might even find that once you blanch, you can’t go back!