How to cook vegetables to keep their bright pigment…

Cooking vegetables may seem obvious to many; after all, how hard can it be to bung them in a pan of boiling water until they’re soft? The problem is that many people don’t realise their method of cooking veggies can lead to all the goodness being cooked out or their vibrant colour becoming lost. Tired vegetables should be a thing of the past. They’re too delicious to treat as second-best and too beneficial to our health to ignore. Just like a seasoned steak, we should be taking our time with them.

I’ve created a video (see below) showing how best to maintain the pigments in the different coloured veggies. I’ve also written down my top tips for cooking vegetables well (underneath the video), so you can see just how easy it is to cook this way. The changes are quick, easy and simple. No complicated ingredients or hours spent slaving over the pan; but you’ll certainly notice the difference.

And the flavour – well, try them for yourself. You’ll immediately see how delicious and vibrant properly cooked vegetables can be, I am sure. Who can resist bright green crunchy broccoli stems scattered over a green pesto pasta or cooked deep red beetroot mixed with a warm summer couscous salad?

Top tips for cooking veggies

  • Your pot should be suitably sized so the veggies are not over-crowded
  • Season the water with 1 tsp of salt
  • Depending on the colour of the vegetable, add an acid (watch my video to learn more about the differences)
  • Ensure the veggies are cut into uniform sizes
  • Cook the vegetables to the “just tender state” – this time varies for each variety but isn’t usually longer than a few minutes
  • Test the veggies for how cooked they are by tasting them; they should offer little resistance to the tooth and be “al dente”
  • For most vegetables, quick-cooking in boiling water is required – however, long-cooking veggies such as potatoes and beetroots are best cooked at a simmer
  • Once cooked, drain in a colander and immediately cool the vegetables under a cold water tap. This will help to lock in their vibrant colour
  • Remember the heat in the veggies will continue to cook them so you need to move quickly to retain their crunch – the quicker you can cool them, the better
  • Finish them off by lightly coating them in butter or olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper. They’re now ready to serve however you wish.

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