The frozen aisle is a magical place. As you stroll down, you find a variety of meats and pre-cooked meals that are wonderful for those days when you just don’t feel like getting up to prepare food. It’s almost like an excuse to stop cooking altogether.
I was definitely a fan of these kinds of foods and would eat them more often than I would cook homemade dishes. Although things have changed now and I can definitely see the difference between freshly-cooked meals and reheated frozen meals, frozen foods are definitely still a part of my cooking.
Frozen vegetables are definitely one of those things I always have in stock, and for good reason! They are very easy to cook and produce great results if cooked properly. They are also a great addition to your pasta, your sandwich, your salad, and everything in between! They are an easy way to level up an already great dish.
Frozen vegetables are vegetables that are frozen immediately after harvesting. Some worry that frozen vegetables are less healthy than fresh vegetables when in reality they have generally the same nutritional value!
In fact, when comparing certain frozen vegetables to their fresh counterparts such as broccoli, the riboflavin content was found to be higher in the frozen vegetable.
It’s a great thing to know that frozen vegetables are healthy, and the fact that it is such a versatile food adds to it. However, some cooks tend to make mistakes when cooking frozen vegetables that tend to decrease its quality.
In order to bring out the best of frozen vegetables, I’ve created for you a list of things you can do to cook them!
Ways To Cook Frozen Vegetables
Cooking frozen vegetables seem simple enough, but with the right techniques, you can partner them with anything and use them in almost any meal.
Steaming your frozen vegetables is a great way to cook them without losing too much of its original textures and qualities. It’s just enough to be safe to eat and can give you a tender bowl of hot vegetables, something I imagine would be great for a snack on a lazy day.
Steaming is simple enough and doesn’t require too much of an effort. In fact, you can even use a microwave to do this method! A quick way to steam your vegetables in the microwave is to place them in a microwave-safe container and add some water.
Do this in 90-second intervals in order to prevent your vegetables from taking in too much heat. Have you ever experienced your food having mini-explosions in the microwave? Yeah, we don’t want that! Stir in between intervals and stop when you find the texture you want. Longer times in the microwave will give you more tender vegetables.
You can also steam your vegetables on a stovetop if this is available to you! This gives you much more control over your frozen vegetables and you can stir as much as you wish. You have to keep an eye on them, though, as you can definitely lose the desired texture and doneness that you like in an instant.
Be sure to poke your vegetables with a fork in order to check how tender or how crispy you want them to be. You generally want to be around while steaming as this can be a quick process.
If you’re like me, you probably like your vegetables with a bit of crunch to them. This adds a bit of texture and contrast to the tenderness of the vegetable when bitten. This is why sautéeing vegetables is a favorite method of mine!
Not only is this super easy to do, but it also produces a scrumptious meal and brings out the best of your frozen vegetables in my opinion. As you heat up your pan on medium to high heat, add some olive oil for a little bit of a fancy meal. I have found that this also adds a lot to the flavor.
Simply add the frozen vegetables into the pan when ready and stir around occasionally as you would normally. You can add these crunchy vegetables to your salads or your sandwiches. This can take to up to 5 minutes, or for as crunchy and done as you want them to be.
Another favorite method of mine to cook your frozen vegetables is to cook it on the grill. This definitely adds another level of flavor to any type of food, but especially your vegetables. This is because of the smoke coming from below, but that’s mostly if you cook it in an open container.
This is also very convenient if you don’t want too much of a cleanup. Avoiding pans altogether is possible with frozen vegetables and can even give you a delicious meal. Add these vegetables to your barbecue and you’ll get all the go, grow, and glow foods into your day!
For minimum cleanup, you can use aluminum foil and wrap your vegetables in it with a little olive oil to prevent any sticking and to add to the flavor. Place on the grill and check occasionally to make sure you aren’t burning anything.
4. Bake or Roast
Have an oven that needs some attention? Your frozen vegetables would love to be baked or roasted in it! This also adds another dimension to your frozen vegetables as they get introduced to heat from all directions. This also can create minimal charring that adds some great flavors.
Get a baking sheet, a baking dish, or whatever you have. After placing a layer of olive oil into the pan, place it into an oven pre-heated to 400°F in order to heat it up. Toss your vegetables also in some olive oil before adding to your pan.
Make sure they are spread evenly. This makes sure that your vegetables are roasted or baked properly and evenly. No vegetable left behind!
You can flip the vegetable when necessary, which is when you find that one side of the vegetable is starting to brown. Yum!
Tips and Mistakes to Avoid
1. You don’t have to defrost your vegetables!
You’re probably used to defrosting your meats before having to cook them. This isn’t necessary to your frozen vegetables! This is because as you defrost them, it gets exposed to air and loses its crunchiness. This also causes a drop in flavor, almost like you have a small hole in your inflatable pool. The longer it’s out left to defrost, the less nutrients and flavor you get when you eventually cook them.
2. Boiling is boring!
Boiling your vegetables is usually a go-to for people new to cooking and dealing with vegetables, but in this case, you’re just losing the great qualities of your frozen vegetables. Since frozen vegetables retain their crunchy texture, you might want to lean onto this quality!
Boiling your frozen vegetables will make them soggy which might ruin your dish rather than adding another dimension to it.
3. Cooking everything is a mistake!
Some frozen vegetables don’t even need to be cooked anymore and are meant to be eaten thawed. An example of which would be frozen corn!
You might also want to consider keeping your hands off the stovetop or the oven for awhile if you’re using frozen vegetables as an addition to your already hot dish. Instead of heating them on their own, try adding them to your hot dish as-is and mixing them in. This will heat up the vegetables while lowering down the temperature of the freshly-cooked meal.
4. Treating them as fresh vegetables as you cook them!
I know how confusing cooking is sometimes, but fresh vegetables are much firmer than frozen vegetables. This means that you’ll have to cook fresh vegetables for longer than frozen.
Adjust your cook time accordingly, and if you aren’t sure about how long your vegetables are supposed to be cooked for, keep an eye on them, and always test their doneness.
When cooking frozen vegetables, there are a lot of things to consider. One thing is to think about what you’re going to pair your frozen vegetables with. Sometimes, you might even be eating them on their own. I can vouch for how good they can be if you add a little butter and sautée them properly!
If you’re adding them to salads, you might want to steam them in order to match the freshness of the greens. If you’re adding them to your pasta, maybe go crunchy for an added dimension. It’s really all up to you and your preferences.
Cooking frozen vegetables is not tricky at all; in fact, for some vegetables, you don’t even have to cook them at all! However, when you cook them just right, you’ll find that you can bring these frozen food staples to a whole other level.
Trying frozen vegetables other than the normal peas and carrots might even bring you to a whole other level of cooking experience. Learn to try new things from time to time! You might find your next favorite meal is just by the frozen aisle.