And, at least for me, it’s not always about availability. It’s also about cost and convenience (I know, gasp! So often the latter is viewed as a lesser form of cooking, and the former not discussed at all).
So here I am to discuss my solution: buy lush ripe produce when you can, but when you can’t, stock up on frozen vegetables (I have two canned favorites, too—pumpkin and tomatoes—which I’ll discuss in future posts). If you need an additional reason to consider the same (if cost, convenience and availability are not the issues), it’s this: NUTRITION.
Here’s the scoop: frozen vegetables may be even more healthful than some of the fresh produce sold most supermarkets (this according to scientists at the USDA, UC Davis, NYU and more). The reason is that vegetables selected for freezing are typically processed at peak ripeness, on site (i.e., little to no traveling), when they are most nutrient-packed.
Before they’re boxed or bagged, vegetables are very briefly blanched (or steamed) to kill bacteria and arrest browning and food-degrading enzymes. This results in a minor loss of water-soluble nutrients like vitamin C, but the subsequent flash-freeze locks the vegetables in a relatively nutrient-rich state.
By comparison, most supermarket vegetables picked before they are picked before they are ripe (meaning underdeveloped range of vitamins and minerals) in order to be shipped around the country (or the globe); the extended exposure to heat and light from the cross-country haul further degrades the nutrients.
My Top Picks for Frozen Vegetables
- Shelled green soybeans (edamame)
- Broccoli florets
- Cauliflower florets
- Chopped or leaf spinach
- Petite peas
- Frozen pepper blends (mix of sliced red, green & yellow peppers)
- Stir-fry blends (combinations vary, but often include snow peas, sliced onions, red peppers, and baby corn)
- Pureed winter squash (typically sold in 12-ounce box, such as Birds Eye brand. It is most often butternut squash, but it can also be acorn squash or a blend of the two)
- Sugar snap peas (typically sold in box, not bag)
- Snow peas (typically sold in box, not bag)
- And last, but not least, Pearl onions!
Here is one of my favorite, mid-winter sides, which goes with just about everything: Balsamic Roasted Pearl Onions.
It’s cheap, easy, convenient, nutritious, and goes with multiple main course options.
Fresh pearl onions can be a headache to peel, but these frozen lovelies are ready-to-use (save for thawing), and so handy.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 16-ounce bag frozen pearl onions (no need to thaw, but remove any pieces of ice)
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions; cook and stir 5 to 7 minutes until lightly browned.
- Add the balsamic vinegar, water and brown sugar and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 12 to 15 minutes until the onions are tender.
- Transfer the onions to a bowl using a slotted spoon (reserve the liquid).
- Simmer the reserved liquid in the skillet 2 to 3 minutes longer until thick and syrupy; stir in the salt and pepper . Transfer the onions back to the skillet and coat with the liquid.
- Category: Side Dish