Frozen Food Fix-Up
Whenever I cook frozen vegetables, they always come out mushy. How can I get them to look like they do in commercials and taste great?
Right. The frozen vegetable dilemma. We’ve all been there. You buy frozen vegetables because you’ve read their nutrient content is higher than the fresh stuff in the produce section; or, you buy them because they’re convenient. You take a little at a time from the bag, and you don’t have to worry about the rest turning to slimy mush inside your crisper drawer. But, let’s face it. Frozen is a long way from fresh, even if the package tells you those veggies were flash frozen immediately after picking. There’s no getting away from frozen veg. Convenient and healthy, but all your enthusiasm for eating them fades when you prod that mushy, watery Brussels sprout with the point of your knife. So, what’s a vegetable lover to do?
All you need to do is remember the first rule of frozen vegetable cookery: read the package directions, then firmly ignore them.
Most directions will advise you to boil the contents of the package, or at the very least, pour them into a pan with about a quarter cup of water. Don’t. Following those directions is a sure way to end up in frozen vegetable hell. Here’s what you do instead:
Steam – This method of gentle cooking brings out the absolute best in frozen veg. Steam gently, over lightly simmering water for as long as it takes for the vegetable to cook right through (or to your desired consistency).
Avoid the Thaw – Don’t pull the package out of the freezer until the moment you’re ready to heat the vegetables. Allowing them to thaw for even a few minutes will leave the outside portions mushy and overcooked.
The Fat Solution – Add a bit of butter or oil to a hot frying pan. Toss in the vegetables and sauté quickly over medium heat.
There you have it. Try any one of these methods for the best vegetables you’ll ever eat. Oh, one more very important tip: season, season, season. Don’t forget to toss some salt and pepper onto the vegetables as they’re cooking. The right amount of seasoning will bring out the best flavour.