“Less Sugar, More Fruit. Less Soda, More Water. Less Driving, More Walking. Less Worry, More Sleep. Less Words, More Action.”– Unknown
Are you interested in learning a cooking technique that’ll save you time in the kitchen and bring out both flavor and nutrition into your meals?
Of course you are!
Here’s how I came across this great time saving strategy….
I was in touch with some healthy-foodie friends of mine a couple of weeks back. We chatted about what they were growing in their garden. They were particularly excited about the broccoli, but were surprised by how long it took for the head of the broccoli to grow. So, while waiting, they experimented with cooking the leathery leaves of the broccoli instead.
(Side note: Leaves of the broccoli are delicious and nutritious! They boast healthy doses of Vitamins A, B, C and K as well as potassium, iron, calcium, minerals, and fibre.)
Unlike the broccoli heads, the broccoli leaves came in quicker than my friends could eat them, so they had to find a way to save them. What they ended up doing was blanching and freezing.
Blanching simply means cooking vegetables in boiling water for a minute or so and then placing them in an ice bath (for the same amount of time) to shock the veggies and stop the cooking. After the ice bath, pat the veggies dry and then store them in the freezer (in a reusable freezer-safe container). They’ll store in the freezer for months on end as a result, and keep their vibrant colour and texture.
Blanching vegetables provides several benefits. This technique locks in flavor, preserves nutrients and increases freezer shelf life so they don’t turn brown. It’s vegetable magic!
Now, not all vegetables need blanching before freezing, but the following few vegetables certainly do:
- green beans
- Brussels sprouts
- bell peppers
- dark leafy greens
Whenever these vegetables are in season, purchase them in bulk. Then spend one afternoon chopping, blanching and freezing. I’d recommend doing this for onions because they’re the base for many dishes, and they’ll last for months in the freezer. (Also, you’ll only have one teary-eyed afternoon instead of multiple.) So when the evening comes and its your turn to cook, all that’s left to do is cook, not chop!
I could have ended my blog here, but I reached out to my friends again to see if they had a broccoli leaves recipe that I could share with you. Here’s what they wrote back to me:
“We tend to eat the broccoli greens much like collard greens, on their own with other vegetables and meat. They are not as melty-soft as cooked spinach and have a stronger flavour, so not as versatile and not everyone’s favourite. That said, they are (as I am sure you will have pointed out) extremely nutritious.
Other than serving them alongside roast meats as a side (with a little butter) I would make the following soup which is always delicious:
- 1 part onion – chopped
- 1 part potato – chopped
- 3 parts vegetables (greens)
- 4 parts stock (broth) – the best quality you can buy or homemade
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Melt some butter in a heavy saucepan, when it foams add the potatoes and onions and turn them until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and sweat* on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the vegetable (greens) and stock. Boil until soft. Liquidize, then strain through a sieve. Do not overcook or the vegetables will lose their flavour. Adjust seasoning.
(*In culinary terms, the definition of the word sweat means to cook something over low heat in a small amount of fat, usually in a covered pan or pot.)
During my nutritional consults, I’m often asked for tips on how best to save time in the kitchen. Blanching and freezing is definitely one of the best ones out there.
P.S Want to learn more tips to make meal prep and meal planning easy and efficient, eliminating the need for last-minute “fast food” runs? Check out my Comprehensive Healthy Foodie nutrition package by clicking here.
P.P.S Share the love! If you know a friend who would enjoy this cooking tip, please forward them this blog.