Boiling vegetables is an extremely simple method. There are a few key points to ensuring proper cooking methods and to keep as many nutrients in the product as possible. In general, boiling is one of the least flavorful ways to cook vegetables, we generally recommend a sautéing, braising baking or roasting to get the flavor from the caramelization process. However, for a low fat and easy cooking method, here are some guidelines for boiling.
Tips and Tricks to Boiling:
Wash the vegetables. Gently scrubbing the vegetables under lukewarm water is the best way to go.
Cut up the vegetables. The smaller the pieces, the faster they'll cook. That means less nutrient loss, but it also means that it's a little bit harder to get them to stay just a bit crisp. The pieces should be evenly-sized, so that they cook evenly. Otherwise, smaller pieces will be ready before bigger ones.
It's best to cut them not too long before you're ready to boil them, so that they stay fresher. You can also cut them ahead of time and keep them fresh in water, but that tends to make the vegetables a bit mushy and waterlogged.
No matter which vegetable you use, it's best to bring the water to boil before adding the vegetables. And if you cover the pot, the water will boil faster. If you add the vegetables when the water is already hot, you don't need to boil them as long, and you won't lose as many nutrients.
For green vegetables, you should use as much water as possible. The more water you use, the less it'll cool down when you add the vegetables. This is important for green vegetables, because it's best not to cover them when you boil them. Yes, it'll help the water get hotter faster, but it'll also cause the acids and chlorophyll in the boiling vegetables to react, and the veggies will lose their bright green color.
For any other vegetables, you should use as little water as possible – just enough to completely cover the veggies when you add them to the water. The less water you use, the less nutrient loss. And if you're not using green veggies, you can cover the pot to get the water boiling again really quickly.
A little bit of salt goes a long way when you're boiling vegetables. It serves two purposes.
Salt raises the boiling point of water. That means the water boils hotter, and cooks your vegetables faster. And that means less time in the water for your veggies.
The right amount of salt will enhance the vegetables' flavor. You don't want to use so much salt that they taste salty, but a bit will make the vegetables taste better. Half a teaspoon to a teaspoon of salt per quart of water will do the trick.
Bring the water to a boil before adding the salt. The water will boil a bit more vigorously for a second when you do, but it'll ensure that the salt is dissolved right away. If you add it before boiling, it could deposit on the bottom. Depending on what your pot is made of, the salt could react with it and discolor it.
Instructions for boiling:
Add the vegetables to the boiling water.
Bring the water temperature back up.
For green vegetables, leave the pot uncovered and keep the heat high. It'll help preserve the green color.
For other vegetables, cover the pot. You can reduce the heat, so long as the water stays at a boil.
Cook the vegetables until they're done. Depending on what vegetables you used and how big the pieces are, it'll take more or less time. The best way to tell if they're done is to taste a piece every so often. Cook them to your desired doneness and don’t forget about them. There is nothing sadder than overcooked, mushy vegetables.
Remove the vegetables from the water. You can take them out with a slotted spoon, or drain the water out of the pot using a colander.
If you're not serving the vegetables right away, you can immerse them in ice water for a few seconds (similar to blanching). That'll stop the cooking process, so that they don't become overcooked after you take them out of the water. To reheat them, immerse them in boiling water for a few seconds.
Vegetables that can be boiled:
Broccoli Brussels sprouts
Squash – Summer & Winter