I harvested overwintered broccoli leaves from the garden and wondered how they’d turn out if blanched for an antipasto salad. The technique worked, so I began blanching kale, collards, chard, …
I harvested overwintered broccoli leaves from the garden and wondered how they’d turn out if blanched for an antipasto salad. The technique worked, so I began blanching kale, collards, chard, green beans, carrots, peas, onions; I blanched every sturdy vegetable we had.
Blanching makes colors pop. It creates bright verdant beans and flashing orange carrots, and produces a crisp crudite bite. Now, more challenging veggies aren’t raw at one extreme or limp on the other, but perfecto.
Blanching expands your repertoire. I eat a lot more cold veggies that I thought were best warm, and it slows down spoilage, so I can keep salads longer.
I make quick pickles by blanching sturdy vegetables and then adding herbs and spices. I’m including a recipe for a tumeric carrot and onion pickle that’s become an addiction.
Urap Urap and Gado Gado are two Indonesian salads that use blanched vegetables. The salads layer fresh herbs and spicy dressings over crudite-style greens, carrots, green beans, peppers, and more. I’m experimenting with this technique and am hooked.
For an Indonesian-style salad, blanch up several types of in-season sturdy greens, roots, beans, or summer squash and keep them in the fridge ready to go.
Then, make a dressing, which is easy, and have fresh herbs like Thai basil, mint, and cilantro washed and ready, a squeeze of lime and you’ll have an amazing salad. Here’s a dressing I like to use.
5 Thai lime leaves with ribs removed
2 cloves garlic
2 fresh chilies (you choose the heat level)
2 teaspoons fresh turmeric
1½ tablespoons fresh ginger
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons lime juice plus zest of the whole lime
1 cup toasted coconut flakes
Enough coconut milk to loosen the dressing and make it moist
1 teaspoon sea salt
Grind all ingredients together into a chunky, smooth paste.
How do you blanch again?
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil with the lid on.
While you’re waiting for the water to boil, cut up the vegetables: carrot sticks, broccoli florets, chopped greens. Try to make each kind of vegetable the same size and shape so they’ll cook evenly. Put them into separate piles, because they’ll also need to cook for different amounts of time.
Have a big bowl of ice water sitting in the sink, or if you’re feeling lazy, just cold water.
Add the vegetables to the boiling water in small batches so that the water continues to boil. I rarely add salt, but you can. If you’re blanching more than one kind of vegetable, blanch each separately and blanch lighter-colored ones first, so they won’t darken whatever comes next. It will take a moment for the water to come back to the boil after adding the vegetables, so start timing when the water is boiling.
When each type of vegetable is done, remove them with a slotted spoon and plunge into the ice bath to stop the cooking process (this is called “shocking”). If you were lazy and didn’t use ice water, then keep changing the water until the vegetables are cool. When cool, remove them from the ice bath and drain on a towel. Pat the greens dry.
Makes 1 quart.
4 medium carrots cut into thin 2 inch sticks
1 medium onion sliced thin Chinese style
2 cloves garlic
1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger
1 inch piece peeled fresh turmeric
½ teaspoon black mustard seed
1 teaspoon whole coriander seed
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon white whole cane sugar
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
Blanch the onions and carrots in rapidly boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and immediately plunge into an ice bath. Combine the flavor paste ingredients and blend in a food processor until smooth. Mix the paste with the drained vegetables to serve. They keep well and the flavor develops with time.
For more recipes about blanching visit www.foodcoop.coop.
Sidonie Maroon is the culinary educator at the Food Co-op.
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