artphoto by splunge
artphoto by TheophileEscargot
artphoto by Kronos_to_Earth
artphoto by ethylene





Mecha Wiki

Metachat Eye


IRC Channels



Comment Feed:


12 September 2011

Ideas for improving frozen veggies? [More:]I've been trying to eat better lately and cook more of my own dinners. So I've built up a repertoire of main courses and a couple sides. Then I typical add a serving of frozen veggies (usually a mix of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots), which I just throw in the microwave with a little bit of water. This tastes fine, but I'm wondering if there are easy ways to improve it without adding much complication?

I want to minimize additional dirty pans or whatever. And I don't want to add a bunch of less-than-healthy stuff like a bunch of cheese or butter.
A squeeze of lemon juice makes broccoli way awesome.
posted by leesh 12 September | 12:15
I find with frozen veggies, even a touch of butter or Smart Balance goes a long way.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 12 September | 12:52
I find frozen vegetables are better if you thaw them.
posted by Eideteker 12 September | 12:58
You could use just cauliflower, then mash it and add butter and seasonings. (on preview, it doesn't have to be a lot of butter..)

Seconding lemon juice. Also, try soy sauce. Maybe together.
posted by cp311 12 September | 13:01
Yes to lemon juice, soy sauce. Maybe a small amount of hoisin sauce. Or oyster sauce.

Try some interesting "green" spices (in moderation) like basil, oregano, thyme and sage.

Also, frozen veggies are very nice in dishes e.g. tossed with pasta or thrown into a tofu stir fry.

posted by bearwife 12 September | 13:32
If you ever have leftover rice from ordering take-out, then fry that shit up with a little sesame oil and add the veges. I know it makes another thing to wash, but it really does taste good and super easy AND gets rid of leftovers. Win!
posted by gaspode 12 September | 13:38
Lemon juice is a great idea. I can't believe I didn't think of that. Unfortunately, I don't like soy sauce much.
posted by mullacc 12 September | 13:52

what is wrong with you?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 12 September | 14:47
Clearly, you have not drunk enough soy sauce.
posted by Eideteker 12 September | 15:06
gaspode suggested sesame oil as an ingredient in stir-fry AND SHE IS DEAD RIGHT OH GASPODE CAN I COME OVER FOR DINNER but a tiny shake of dark sesame oil over hot vegetables gives them a faint but delicious smoky toasty flavor.

I also love nuts, especially if they're toasted with some seasoning and salt. It doesn't have to be a last-minute fuss: I toast up a panful of nuts with a drop of oil, one strong seasoning (say, some chili powder or rosemary or smoked paprika), and a generous sprinkle of super-fine salt. Just toss them until they get slightly dark and smell incredible. Then pop them in a jar to sprinkle over salads or steamed veggies all week long. You can even freeze them if you're going through them too slowly and think they might get that funky-nut smell.

As noted above, lemon and the tiniest bit of butter or olive oil makes an ENORMOUS difference. When I dress a big pan of hot broccoli (that sounded dirtier than I meant it too), I use maybe a quarter-teaspoon of butter --- just the barest sliver --- along with salt and pepper.

If you're adding lemon and you have a decent grater, I recommend also adding just the tiniest bit of lemon zest. That's the yellow bit where all the oils are, and just the merest sprinkle amps up the flavor in a way the juice alone can't. Grate it fine and use it sparingly: it's super flavorful. Also avoid the white pith, which quite bitter.

Don't discount the use of simple salad dressings if you already like them and keep them around. Whether you make them at home or buy them, they can be good condiments on hot vegetables as well as cold greens.

I like nutritional yeast sprinkled on hot vegetables, but the way a guest looked at me when I offered some for popcorn made me realize this is far from universal. If you don't know if you like it, you could find a health-food store that sells it in bulk and buy a tiny quantity to try.
posted by Elsa 12 September | 15:25
Oh my I'm hungry.
posted by Elsa 12 September | 15:25
Clearly, you have not drunk enough soy sauce.

What did I say to you?! Bad boy!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 12 September | 15:29
Oh, oh! Herb butters! I know you don't want to add much butter and the beauty of herb butters is that they don't take much butter to make a big impact.

Chop up your favorite herb nice and fine and mash into some slightly soft butter with a fork. I especially like basil or rosemary or sage, but this should be something YOU love. If it's unsalted butter, you might add some salt. I usually like to gussy it up with a bit of lemon or orange zest, maybe some black pepper, but neither is necessary.

Now wrap this chunk of herb butter in parchment paper or plastic wrap or wax paper*, pop it in an air-tight container, and freeze it. When you want some herb butter, just cut off a slice with a nice sharp knife and put it on the hot veggies. Well-wrapped, herb butter will keep practically forever and you can use it for all kinds of things: on hot biscuits or rolls, as a sandwich spread, to doll up a simple cut of meat: just plop a slice of herb butter on top or use it in the deglazed pan to make a pan sauce. It takes about ten minutes of work and then you have a little container of deliciousness at the ready.

*If you want to be fancy, you can roll it into a tidy cylinder so you can cut lovely rounds off it, but that's a frill.
posted by Elsa 12 September | 15:41
Just get a bit of goat cheese and put a dollop of it over the hot veggies. . .if it is goat cheese, you will not have any cancelling out of potential health benefits.
posted by danf 12 September | 15:50
Ooooh, goat cheese. Good call! Melty goat cheese is fantastic, especially on strong-flavored vegetables like the broc, cauliflower, and carrots mullacc mentioned. I will add: the tiniest sprinkling of nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, whatever) is incredible with goat cheese.

I also like seeds: toasted pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pinenuts, or ground flaxseeds. They add some crunch and flavor as well as great nutrition.

Still SO HUNGRY. Whatever The Fella is making for dinner, it smells amaaaaaazing.
posted by Elsa 12 September | 16:00
Garlic powder? Or steam garlic clove(s) with the veggies?

I dunno, I don't like most vegetables (they're too bitter) so I'm not much of a help.
posted by deborah 12 September | 16:49
I steam frozen veggies in the microwave until just before they are completely done. Then I chop up some onions and sautee them in a little olive oil over medium/medium-low heat. I add salt and some spices (usually chili powder -- my mom's Indian one, but any spice mix you like). Then I add the veggies and any water that has melted in the microwave; this makes for a nice gravy. I like my veggies well cooked, but you could cook them for just a minute if you like. Then I add some chopped tomato -- this + onions are key -- and keep sauteeing until the tomatoes have collapsed a bit (usually 5-8 minutes).

This is the very first "recipe" my mother ever taught me (upon signing the lease on my first apartment in college). And I still make it on busy nights -- it's a fast cook.
posted by bluefly 12 September | 16:54
posted by mudpuppie 12 September | 17:30
finely cut mint goes well with frozen peas
posted by rollick 12 September | 20:14
Balsamic vinegar!
posted by rhapsodie 12 September | 20:28
You know what's good with balsamic vinegar? Roasted brussel sprouts. OM NOM NOM NOM NOM.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 13 September | 08:34
You know what else is good with balsamic vinegar? Roasted asparagus. (Drizzle on some olive oil and the BV, roast 8 minutes, chow down.)
posted by bearwife 14 September | 12:52
"Blue Jeans" by Lana Del Rey || My roommate and I decided our door needed a little something.