Did you pick up a few bags of frozen vegetables to get you through the pandemic? Have they made it out of the freezer yet? They’re easy to ignore, aren’t they?
If you’ve ever heard me speak, you know I’m a big proponent of frozen vegetables. We all know they’re practical, right? Someone else washes and chops them, they’re as nutritious as fresh, don’t go bad before you get to them, and usually cost less to boot.
The problem is, a pile of boiled frozen vegetables is pretty uninspiring, isn’t it? HO. HUM.
Instead, think about tucking them into dishes that are already flavourful and satisfying. Use them where their softer texture won’t be a liability, and don’t thaw them first. Five ideas:
- Pasta. What could be easier? Add vegetables in the last minute or so of cooking it. (Don’t add them too early. Overcooked vegetables are the worst.) If you like peanut sauce, try this Peanut Butter Pasta, which features frozen broccoli and can be made almost entirely out of pantry staples (just leave out cherry tomatoes, tofu or shrimp if you don’t have them). Or broil basa or tilapia (also freezer friendly) and toss with pasta, olive oil, parmesan, pepper, and frozen mixed vegetables. Or add frozen bell peppers to a bolognese sauce. You can even shortcut the start of it with frozen chopped onions or mirepoix blend. Pasta. I love pasta.
- Soup. The Black Bean Salsa Soup from my cookbook*, which uses frozen broccoli, is one of our favourites. Takes less than 15 minutes too. And ever since they started selling frozen chopped butternut squash, I never buy it fresh. Why risk chopping off a finger? Try this creamy butternut squash soup from Energize Nutrition.
- Rice. You could just add a few frozen peas or mixed vegetables to any side of rice, but personally I like to kick it up a notch with cheese, sauce, or something else rich to balance them, as in these fried rice, rice and beans, and risotto recipes. (Full disclosure: I haven’t tried any of those recipes. I usually just start with the rice dish I want to make and add the frozen vegetables.)
- Curry. Sorry curry purists, this shortcut is probably not authentic, but it works for us on a weeknight (and during a pandemic, it seems). As long as you have a flavourful sauce, the frozen vegetables work just fine. I included two such simple recipes in my cookbook — Chickpea-Almond Curry and Spicy Weeknight Coconut Tofu Curry — and I’m sharing them below.
- Roasted. This works better than you might think! I have the best luck with frozen broccoli or cauliflower, for which I also included a recipe in my book. (Something like this, although I just use salt and pepper instead of the Montreal steak spice.) Butternut squash works too. You have to walk the thin line between getting it crispy enough and burning it. Check and toss frequently at the end. If it’s not crispy enough you can broil for a minute or two.
Really anything where the frozen veggies are mixed in with a other more flavourful ingredients will work – think chili, stir-fry or stew too. And frozen kale or spinach (frozen in crumbles, not blocks) can slip into just about any of the above, plus eggs, wraps, or casseroles.
One final tip: If you’re doing convenience food like this — and no shame — adding mixed vegetables extends it and works pretty well. There is usually more than enough highly seasoned sauce to balance extra veggies.
So pull out those frozen veggies and maybe you’ll buy yourself a few more days before you need to stock up on food again. Get into the habit and you may find yourself continuing to cook with them even when the pandemic ends. (It will end, right?)
Curry recipes below. ⇓⇓
What are your favourite ways to use frozen veggies? Share on our Facebook community.
Stay safe all.
* affiliate link – That means if you buy the book using this link I earn a small commission from Amazon.