When it comes to vegetables, it’s often assumed fresh is best. As a registered dietitian and overall vegetable enthusiast, I can tell you this actually isn’t the case. Frozen vegetables are flash-frozen at the peak of ripeness, which means they’re just as nutritious as fresh vegetables, so long as they’re not packed in a rich sauce or heavily salted. They’re also way more friendly on the wallet than fresh vegetables and keep in the freezer for months and months.
So yes, nothing against fresh veggies, but frozen can absolutely hold their own and deserve a permanent spot in your freezer. However, because they’re frozen, they’re icy, which means their overall water content is higher than fresh. This can affect the end result of what you’re preparing, so frozen vegetables aren’t best simply thawed and tossed into salads or snacked on. You need a strategy, and that’s to cook them in an array of side and main dishes. Here are 5 of the best ways to use frozen vegetables.
Just like roasting is a failsafe way to prepare fresh vegetables, it’s an equally smart technique to deploy when it comes to frozen vegetables. Boiling, microwaving, and steaming frozen vegetables can all trap their inherent excess water content, making them a mushy addition to your dinner table. Roasting at high heat, however, helps to evaporate this moisture. The result is lightly crisp yet tender vegetables that can pair with whatever you’re serving.
Stir Into Soups and Stews
Frozen vegetables add color and bulk to any soup or stew. Toss them in straight from the freezer near the end of simmering and they’ll cook right in the pot. Leave them whole in the pot to give it texture or blend into a creamy soup that’s packed with goodness.
Blend Into Sauces
Sauces are a sneaky way to get more vegetables onto your plate and frozen vegetables take especially well to them. Cooked butternut squash or cauliflower can be blended into a creamy, cheesy sauce for pasta or mac and cheese while peas can be blitzed into a vibrant green pesto to be used on sandwiches and beyond.
Like roasting, stir-frying utilizes high heat, which helps quickly evaporate any residue moisture on frozen vegetables before they absorb it and become mushy. There’s no need to thaw before cooking. Simply toss the still-frozen vegetables into the screaming-hot skillet or wok.
Toss Into Pasta Dishes
The best way to turn pasta into a wholesome dinner is to load it with vegetables and opting for frozen vegetables makes it even easier. Thawed frozen spinach can be mixed into ricotta to be used in lasagna and stuffed shells while still-frozen artichokes, peas, and beyond can be cooked right in the skillet used to prepare your sauce.