As you learn how to cook them better, cook them, and perhaps combine them differently, since it is essential to consume them, you may want to eat more vegetables.
- Vegetables are rich in water and fiber, which quickly leads to satiety, and that’s a good first point.
- They are very low in calories, rich in mineral salts, vitamins B and C, and thus contribute to a good balance of cells.
To keep all these nutrients, you have to choose your cooking. There are 2 main families of green vegetables:
- Vegetables not very fibrous, or flexible, which will cook very quickly: spinach, zucchini, asparagus, beans, etc …
- On the other hand, more or very fibrous vegetables, which need to be well cooked to be more digestible: chard, artichoke, green pepper …
Secret to keeping vegetables “green”
The classic so-called “English-style” cooking is a method which simply consists of cooking the vegetables in a large volume of salted boiling water and then stopping the cooking by immersing them in an ice-water bath. This technique is perfect for preserving the color of green vegetables.
Boiling water, ice water is a lot of water wasted and a lot of energy wasted. In addition, for the flavors, it is not ideal because the vegetables are washed in this cooking water. Everything is diffused, the tastes are lost, the aromas, as well as the mineral salts … and the vitamins do not resist too high temperatures.
No need to put the ice cubes, the ice water is just used to stop the cooking, but does not “fix” the color as you can often hear.
Vegetables that don’t stay always green
The green color of vegetables comes from chlorophyll. Chlorophylls are pigments, which act on the oxygenation of cells and on the transport of mineral salts. For the plant, it is a bit like the role of our hemoglobin. Chlorophylls interact with oxygen.
Any cut green vegetable, more or less cooked and left in the open air, will oxidize, darken… and in terms of palatability, it will not be great.
Going back to cooking, green vegetables, like most other vegetables, contain 90% to 95% water, so there is no point in cooking them in excess water.
There are two families of vegetables, so you have to adopt two strategies to cook them.
Spinach, zucchini … forget about cooking in water!
They cook in their own water. Cover, cook in the microwave quickly, or steam. To give more flavor: fry without excessive coloring in a little fat, a light seasoning, then cover. Leave to cook for about 5-8 minutes. It’s just perfect, the fat, the heat, and the free sugars in the vegetables will create reactions of caramelization, Maillard etc… which will give a lot of flavor.
Cooking beans, snow peas, broccoli …
If, however, you want to cook beans, snow peas, broccoli … in water, take simmering water, slightly salted but not too much, and possibly a pinch of baking soda. The bicarbonate stabilizes the green of the chlorophylls, it also accelerates the cooking.
Thierry Marx even proposed cooking with sparkling water, in small quantities of water to save water, time and energy. The cooking is perfect, so you have to cook just enough to keep this beautiful color.
Use baking soda for cooking
For artichokes and chard, it is impossible to cook the vegetables quickly in a pan. Steaming will take a long time, but immersing them in water and using baking soda is a good idea. The bicarbonate acts like small scissors, which break the fibers, break up the structure of celluloses and pectins: the binders of the vegetable.
These vegetables are very high in fiber, soluble, insoluble fiber. All this is very good for health because it will greatly accelerate intestinal transit, provided these vegetables are well cooked. Otherwise, you will have bloating and digestion concerns, because the body is not biologically “equipped” to assimilate these raw or undercooked vegetables. Cooking will help make them digestible.
- Place 1 teaspoon of baking soda for about 5 liters of water.
- Salt very little (sodium bicarbonate already contains sodium, so it tastes like salt).
- Cook for about 20 minutes. Without baking soda, it sometimes takes 50 minutes to cook depending on the size of the vegetables, there is a huge saving in time.
To know if it’s cooked, you have to use a skewer for example and see if it fits in the vegetable, quite simply. It is necessary to regularly test the cooking.
Tips to give a little flavor
You have to cook the vegetables, and not consider them as a simple garnish, almost obligatory, to be put next to the meat or the fish. You have to season, combine flavors and make the taste buds travel a little too.
- Broad beans, peas, go very well with strawberries, olive oil, mint.
- Use a lot of herbs: parsley, coriander, dill, mint, basil… At the very last minute to place on a pan of green vegetables.
- Some spices also: turmeric, curry, star anise, pepper, ginger. To test with zucchini for example, that changes a bit.
- Less vegan version: smoked bacon, bacon, prune, ideal for green beans or broccoli. Lightly brown the meat, and in the meat juice, fry the green vegetables raw. When there is a light coloring, cover and serve 5 minutes later.