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How to Cook Vegetables

Broccoli
When you go to but broccoli at your local supermarket, look for it to have firm spears that are dark green with a high floret to stem ratio. What is great about broccoli is that it only takes a few minutes to cook, about four minutes in a microwave or it can be steamed in only five minutes. To prepare broccoli, trim the ends off each stalk a couple of inches below the florets. If you want to eat the stalk as well, it is recommended that you remove the outer layer with a vegetable peeler and then cut into the desired size. The individual florets should then be trimmed from the head of the broccoli stalk. The broccoli is then ready to be cooked by whatever method you choose.

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Eggplant
When you are choosing an eggplant at your local supermarket you want to choose one that is nice and smooth with a shiny skin, the eggplant should not have any soft spots and its skin should be wrinkle free. The best way to prepare eggplant is to cut into slices about a ½-inch thick, remove the skin lightly salt it and place the slices in a strainer and let it naturally drain for
twenty to thirty minutes. You can then either cut the eggplant into the size that you want for your dish or keep the larger slices. Eggplant is a versatile vegetable and can be prepared in different ways. If you choose to fry the eggplant, only use a small amount of oil because eggplant can act like a sponge and soak up excess oil, frying eggplant usually takes about six to eight minutes depending on the thickness of the eggplant. Eggplant is also great on a grill, before you place the eggplant on the grill lightly oil both sides, it is usually ready in about eight to ten minutes depending on the thickness of the eggplant. Eggplant is ready to eat when it has a tender texture.

Lentils
Lentils are a staple of most vegetarian diet and provide a good source of iron. You can easily find lentils prepackaged at your local supermarket. When preparing lentils it is good to remember that two cups will serve four people. The first thing that you want to do when getting ready to cook lentils is to wash them with cold water. Measure the amount of lentils that you want to cook put it in a strainer and run cold water over them to ensure that they are free of any excess dirt or grit. When cooking lentils you want to make sure that you use a pot that has some depth to it because lentils expand when they are cooked. The general rule for cooking lentils is to use two cups of water for every cup of lentils you want to cook. To spice up your lentil dish you can get creative and add spices, vegetables, or turn it into a hearty soup. Lentil recipes are only limited by your imagination, get a cookbook that specializes in vegetarian cuisine and you will be sure to find a plethora of recipes that include lentils.

Black Beans
Beans of all varieties play a large part in vegetarian cuisine. Black beans are a good source of protein, iron, thiamin, and folate. Before you start to cook black beans it is best to inspect them for any dirt or grit and to make sure that there are not any beans that are cracked or are shriveling. Black beans can take up to two hours to cook depending on their freshness; the fresher the beans are the less time is needed to cook them because they have more moisture inside of them. For the best results when cooking black beans it is recommended that they be soaked in water overnight, when doing this it is best to have at least two inches of water covering the beans. When cooking black beans do not add anything to the pot such as salt or vegetables until the beans are almost finished cooking. Black beans are a wonderful addition to rice dishes and be sure to include your favorite vegetables for a wonderful meal.

Red Beans
Like black beans, red beans are also used quite a bit in vegetarian cooking. Red beans are a good source of protein, iron, folate, and dietary fiber. As with black beans, the first thing you should do before preparing red beans is to inspect them for dirt and grit. In addition, if there are any beans that are discolored discard them. If you choose to soak the beans overnight before cooking them it will decrease the cooking time, just be sure not to soak them for longer than twenty-four hours as this could lead to the beans beginning to ferment. When you are ready to start cooking, drain the beans from the water that they were soaking in a give them a good rinse. Change the water and cover the beans with water and bring them to a boil, as soon as the water begins to boil reduce the heat and cover the pot. Let the beans simmer for one to three hours depending on the
amount of beans you are cooking. You will know when the beans are done when they soft and can be mashed easily. Red beans are great as a side dish by themselves or with rice.

Zucchini
When you are inspecting zucchini at your local supermarket you what to make sure that it does not have any soft spots or any breaks in its skin. Zucchini is favored by vegetarians because it is a great source of vitamin C, and is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Moreover, zucchini is a versatile vegetable than can be cooked and served in numerous ways. You can cut it into slices approximately a ⅓ inch thick brush with oil and cook on the grill for about three to four minutes
each side. It can be roasted in the oven at the same size as on the grill at five hundred degrees for approximately ten minutes with it being turned over once halfway through. One of the most famous dishes that zucchini is a part off is ratatouille.
To prepare ratatouille, you will need two eggplants peeled and cut into approximately one-inch cubes sprinkle with salt and place in a strainer and let it drain for two to three hours. Then cut two large zucchini into the same sized cubes toss the eggplant and zucchini cubes together with a couple of tablespoons of oil place in a baking pan into an oven that has been preheated to five hundred degrees. Roast the eggplant and zucchini mixture for about forty minutes or until they are tender and brown. When the mixture is almost done, in a large pot heat a couple of tablespoons of oil and add one onion that has been chopped and sauté until it starts to soften and brown. Then add a couple of cloves of minced garlic along with two tomatoes that have been chopped and cook for an additional five minutes and finally add the eggplant and zucchini mixture and cook for five more minutes.


Tofu
Tofu is a staple of many vegetarian diets. Tofu is made by making curd from soymilk instead of milk from cows. Soybeans are an important part of a vegetarian’s diet because it has all eight essential amino acids. Although tofu is relatively new in western culture it has been used in China for over a thousand years. You will be able to find tofu in the refrigerated section of your local supermarket and it comes in different varieties. You will be able to choose from extra firm, firm, soft, and silken. It is best to stick with the type of texture of tofu of whatever recipe you are following calls for. The different types of tofu are used for different kinds of recipes. The
firm and extra firm types of tofu are good to use on the grill or in Chinese stir fry. Vegetarians like to use the soft variety as a substitute for cheese. The silken variety is used to add protein to pasta sauce, smoothies, and soups.


Cauliflower
When picking out cauliflower at your local supermarket you want to make sure that the head of the cauliflower is tight, white or purple in color without any brown or yellow spots. Cauliflower is popular with vegetarians due to it being a good source of vitamin C, with one serving of cauliflower you can get seventy-seven percent of the recommended daily allowance. Cauliflower, like many vegetables can be prepared in many different ways from steaming, braising, and roasting. One way that cauliflower is now being used by vegetarians is as a puree. This is used to replace the starch of potatoes and can add a nice alternative and add that little something extra to your meal.