No one has time anymore.
I hear it every time I have a conversation with people about their health. We all have time, we just don’t always choose to prioritize it in ways that benefit out health.
I’ve been focused on creating some quick dinner tips with veggies that will make the most difficult meal of the day, faster and easier to prepare.
It’s winter and cruciferous veggies are plentiful and economical. They are at the very top of the list of foods you should be putting in your mouth most frequently and in large volume.
When I get home from the market, before I even put anything away in the fridge, I start doing some prep work. It helps from a space saving perspective (fresh produce takes up a lot of space) and it means that the foods I put in the fridge are one step closer to the way I want to consume them.
Before I go any further I think it’s important for you to know that I don’t own a microwave for a bunch of reasons. You will never have microwave instructions for anything from me. Maybe some day I’ll write a blog post about it but I haven’t owned a microwave in 15 years. Many folks like to “steam” their veggies in the microwave. Hell there are even companies that sell veggies in plastic bags that you can put in the microwave and cook. Blech. Poison. Don’t do it.
The key to saving time is prep. If you spend a little time once or twice a week doing prep work, a bunch of other meals with fall into place pretty quickly.
Today we are going to talk about blanching veggies. This is a quick way to par-cook them to use in a salad or finish later on the stove top when you are in a rush.
I put a big pot filled half way with water on the stove and set the burner to get it boiling. While I was waiting for it to heat up I did the following:
- Cut the stem end off of brussel sprouts
- Cut broccoli up into evenly sized (or close to it) bite sized pieces and set aside
- Cut a head of cauliflower into bite sized pieces and set aside
- Peeled a rutabaga and cut it into uniformly sized pieces (about 2″ square) and set aside.
We are going to use the same pot to cook all these veggies in but we are going to cook them separately.
Before I was done doing all the prep work, the water started to boil. After rinsing the brussel sprouts in warm water I put them into the pot of boiling water for 5 minutes…not a minute longer. You don’t want the cooked all the way through (soft), you want them to remain a bit firm. You can fork test them if you need to. I used my handy dandy hand strainer to pull them out of the water and place them into a colander in the sink and rinsed them with cold water.
Then I put the broccoli into the same pot of boiling water and let it cook for about 3 minutes. I removed them in the same way, rinsed and set aside.
Next I added the cauliflower to the water and repeated the same cooking and removal method.
Lastly I put the cubed rutabaga into the pot and cooked it until tender. Check it with a fork just in case your pieces are larger. They might take longer to cook. I cook this particular veggie until it is soft because when it’s finished I drain it then add it back to the pot and mash with a hand held masher.
So that’s 4 veggies prepped and ready to re-use in quick time all prepared in one pot.
Brussel sprouts – Can be used in salads or as pop in your mouth snacks cold. But me? I’m currently addicted to this super simple method.
Turn a saute pan onto medium high and while it is heating up, cut the sprouts in half. Add just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan then put the sprouts in, flat side down and DO NOT toss them. Just let them sit there for 5 minutes. We are trying to get a nice crust on them.
You can shake them back and forth in the pan to keep them from sticking but you want to keep them face down. Turn one over to check and see if it is getting good color. If not, wait another minute and check again. When they are looking like they have a nice brown crust on them, give them a good toss, a couple of times.
Toss them for another minute or two to heat through thoroughly then plate them. I like mine super brown so I typically let mine run a little longer and a little hotter, face down, before I toss. Just my preference. If you follow my instructions you’ll come out with something that looks like this:
I’m eating a lot of these right now. These are great to get going on the stovetop quickly while you are working on putting the other elements of your meal together. Since they don’t require a lot of attention they are a great way to jump start our meal.
I sometimes cook them like this in the morning and add a scrambled egg or two to the pan for a hearty cold morning breakfast. Yum
Broccoli – I either consume the broccoli as a snack or I add it to my salads. I don’t usually re-heat it again. You can toss it with a vinaigrette and serve it as a cold/room temp side dish.
Rutabaga – It’s mashed and ready to be re-heated in a pan in no time. You can season it when you re-heat it.
Cauliflower – This can also be used in salad, or what I love to do is pan saute it at high heat tossed with salt, pepper, granulated garlic and granulated onion. Its the same method as the brussel sprouts. Put a little oil in a pan heated to medium high then toss the cauliflower in and season to taste. The key is to NOT toss it around a lot. Let it sit on one side and get a nice crispy brown edge on it.
I cooked these in the same pan. I put the brussel sprouts in a few minutes earlier because I like mine cooked nice and brown. They were delish.
These foods will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. Mix and match over the course of a few nights. Let me know how it works for you.
What ways can you make your week night dinners quicker?
Do these tips help you?
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