"Blanching," is a cooking technique that brightens the colors and enhances the textures of fresh vegetables, and also makes them easier to digest. It's perfectly suited for recipes where you want to maintain maximum freshness and flavor, but avoid eating raw produce.
Blanching is also useful for peeling fruits such as tomatoes and stone fruits, like peaches. Blanching fruits makes it easy to remove the hard-to-digest skin. Use the same technique as blanching vegetables, but before placing the fruit in boiling water, use a paring knife to make small cuts forming an "X" on one end, cutting just enough to break the skin. Then, continue with the 3-step process below.
A 3-step technique for crisp-tender vegetables:
- Drop vegetables into a large pot of lightly salted boiling water.
- Boil until just al dente.
- Drain and quick-chill by immersing in ice cold water.
- Use plenty of water, much as you would boil pasta. This prevents the water from cooling down when you add the vegetables, so they cook quickly and evenly.
- Test for doneness by nabbing a vegetable with a pair of tongs. Give it a quick rinse under cold water, and take a bite. It should snap beneath your teeth but have lost some of its raw crunch.
- Most spring and summer vegetables take between 2 and 5 minutes.
- Drain immediately and then quick-chill (a technique known as “shocking”) by immersing in an ice bath or rinsing with ice cold water. Shocking stops cooking and sets the color so the vegetables remain vibrant.
- Once chilled, spread the vegetables out on clean dishtowel to dry.
Favorite uses for crisp-tender vegetables
- Make an exceptional crudités platter -- so much prettier and tastier than a tray full of raw carrot sticks.
- Add to grain, pasta and bean salads
- Add to no-cook summer pastas
- Snacking any time
Best vegetables for blanching
- Carrot sticks
- Sugar snap peas
- Green beans
- Cauliflower florets
- Broccoli florets
- Fennel wedges
- Kohlrabi wedges
- Asparagus spears
What are your favorite veggies to blanch?
Photo by Tricia Martin