Raise your hand if there are frozen veggies in your freezer you don’t remember buying. Guilty? Same.
For a lot of people, bags of frozen vegetables are well-intentioned purchases that aspire to make you that prepared, financially-savvy mama of your dreams. But in reality… they’re usually forgotten. Shoved to the bottom of the freezer, never to be seen again, until they’re fished out–heavily freezer burned–in a Marie Kondo inspired clear-out years later.
So, why do we forget about them? Usually because we’re just not sure what to do with them. Don’t get us wrong–we love frozen veggies, and we’re major proponents of making them part of your life. They may never be able to compete with the texture of their fresh counterparts, but they have them beat in nearly every other regard:
- Price: You’d be hard-pressed to find fresh veggies that turn out cheaper by weight. If you’re on a budget, frozen is a great way to get more for your money.
- Shelf-life: Or rather, freezer life. This is an obvious one, but the fact that they won’t go limp, mushy, or rotten sitting in your fridge means less food waste: better for the environment, and better for your wallet.
- Nutritional value: Vegetables are flash frozen to maximize color, flavor, and nutritional value. Because they retain these nutrients while frozen, they can turn out to have higher levels of vitamins and minerals than fresh.
- Convenience: Frozen veggies are usually pre-chopped, which means on busy nights, they make eating your greens way easier.
So… why aren’t we using our frozen veg more often? Because we’re not cooking them right. Frozen and fresh have different needs, and we need to treat them differently. Your frozen vegetables are usually blanched quickly before freezing, which means they don’t need to cook as long as their fresh counterparts–and if you overcook them, they’ll turn out limp, mushy, and tasteless.
They also have a tendency to go mushy, so use them strategically in dishes that don’t rely heavily on texture. Think stews, soups, stir fries, pasta sauces, and curries. And if your veggies have a mushy texture, it’s not you–it’s them. Freezing causes the water in vegetables to expand, stretching their cell walls to the max, which means they’ll always have a softer texture than crunchy fresh veg. To make the most of their texture, cook them quickly.
Here’s how to cook them right every time, no matter your chosen method.
Pro-tip: Preheat your pan in the oven before you cook your veggies. Toss your veggies with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil before baking, and season with salt, pepper, garlic, and any other spices you’d like. Roast them at 400°F, and keep an eye on them–they’re done when they start to crisp at the edges.
If you want to get maximum flavor out of your veggies, grab your frying pan. Add your veg to a pan with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, bring to medium-high heat, and season with your favorite spices. We love to use crushed garlic, chili powder, cumin, and of course… your trusty salt and pepper.
Place the veggies in a pot over medium-high heat, and cover with water. You don’t need to fully immerse them–they already have an icy coating that will thaw and contribute to the pot’s water content. Cook for 4-6 minutes, depending on size and type.
If dinner needs to be quick, there’s nothing wrong with using your microwave. Place them in a microwave safe container, and add about an inch of water, then cover with a lid. Microwave for 4-5 minutes, or slightly less for more delicate veggies like frozen peas.
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