During the off-season of fresh veggies, the frozen produce aisle is a valid option. But what happens if the dishes you make with them turn out mushy, without much flavor to speak of? Here’s a handy guide to how and what to cook with frozen vegetables to get the most out of them.
Frozen veggies like peas, green beans, broccoli, corn, and spinach get you out of your winter routine and help you make wonderful dishes out of their own season. But you need to learn a few techniques to maximize their benefits and their tastes! All of these veggies are also huge time-savers for people who definitely don’t have that many hours to put in their cooking. There are some useful tips for everyone who want to know what to cook with frozen vegetables and how best to do it.
A huge nutritious boost
These veggies keep all their nutrients when frozen. They are picked and frozen when they are their ripest, full of nutrients. Thanks to that, they might actually be healthier than fresh produce because these are picked and can overripe or wilt until you buy them. Not to mention that most of them are not damaged during transportation.
Frozen veggies also don’t have any additives, as opposed to their canned counterparts. When you shop for them, take a gander at the packaging and make sure they don’t have any added sugar or salt.
7 tips on how and what to cook with frozen vegetables
1. Use them in stir-fries
You can either pick an “Asian medley” from the freezer of your local supermarket, or you can choose your own veggies, like carrots, peas, baby corn, broccoli and so on. Be mindful of the different cooking time of different veggies. You should add your broccoli or Brussels sprouts first, cook them a little, and then add the other ingredients. Add some sauce and some minced garlic, and your meal ends up delicious. No thawing needed. Just a very hot wok when you get started.
2. Do not boil them
This is the one true and tested way of ruining your frozen vegetables by adding too much moisture to them and making them as mushy as possible. Not to mention that this is a sure-fire way to lose vitamins and nutrients. A much better option is steaming your frozen vegetables after you thaw them.
3. When do you skip thawing?
Frozen vegetables are often blanched before freezing, which means that there are a number of things you can cook with them that don’t require thawing of any kind. You can roast them straight out of the bag. Place them on a baking sheet, add a bit of cooking oil and pop them gently in the oven.
Another option is adding the frozen vegetables to a soup or stew. Just drop them into the pan or pot once the dish is close to the finish cooking line and cook them until they’re tender. If you add them too early in the cooking time, they might break down too much and end up that mushy texture that you hate. You can also use them in smoothies, already frozen.
4. Use them cold
Frozen corn, peas, bell pepper cut into tiny strips, and other small frozen items can be thawed and then served cold. You can use them in salads if you combine them with leafy greens or some nice cooked grains. This only applies to blanched frozen vegetables, though.
5. Make them crunchy and crispy
Dip the frozen veggie pieces in some flour, egg wash, and breadcrumbs and roast them in the oven. You can add some grated parmesan to the mix, too. This is how you can give your frozen vegetables a texture and structure in the dish so that they don’t turn out pureed for dear life. You can also make some casseroles with them as the star, but with crispy-enabling ingredients in the mix.
6. Feeling like fillings
If you're about to cook with frozen vegetables, just break open the package and add your broccoli, peas, and whatever else you feel like to the frittata you are making. Frozen veggies make for a great filling for different dishes you bake. You can also use them as filling in quiches, muffins, or puff pastry squares.
7. Run them through the processor
You can make great dips if you process the frozen vegetables (after a nice thaw). You can mix spinach, chard, butternut squash with some cream or yogurt and you’ve got healthy and tasty spreads for your toast in the morning. You can also mix them with some grated cheese or garlic, for extra flavor and texture.
Not to mention that you can make veggie or hybrid falafels or meatballs with them. Turn the veggies into patties through the food processor and then fry them. The results will blow your mind!