By Beth Lipton
When news of the seriousness of COVID-19 started to hit home (it was only a few weeks ago, or 10 years, hard to say at this point), many of us ran out and stocked up on frozen foods, just in case.
Now that many of us are sheltering at home, you may want to dip into those frozen food stores, since food scarcity doesn’t seem to be an issue but frequent trips to the supermarket for fresh food is problematic.
Frozen vegetables are always a great tool in your home-cooking toolbox, for all the reasons you already know: They’re just as healthy as fresh since they’re picked at peak ripeness and flash-frozen, they’re inexpensive (a boon if you’re trying to eat more organic produce, and who isn’t), they minimize food waste.
The one drawback: You can’t use them in all the ways you can use fresh, since the freezing/defrosting process leaves them soft. But if you’ve only steamed, microwaved or stir-fried them up to now, we have a different way for you to cook them: Roasting.
Some vegetables work better than others—stir-fry mixes, peppers, onions and mushrooms work especially well. Sturdier vegetables like broccoli and asparagus will get caramelized, though they tend to be softer than fresh. Still, it works in a pinch, and depending on how you use them, you might not even notice or mind—for example, if you chop them and add them to an omelet or pasta dish.
Ready to try it? Here’s how:
- Get the oven and sheet pan hot. A very high temperature will get the vegetables defrosted and the moisture off quickly. Preheat the oven to 450ºF; place your sheet pan(s) in the oven as it preheats.
- Achieve the sizzle. Carefully pull the hot sheet pan out of the oven and spread with a tablespoon of oil (we like avocado oil, it has a high smoke point and a neutral flavor. Coconut works, too, but will impart a coconut flavor). Quickly empty the package of frozen vegetables on the hot sheet pan, spreading quickly into a single layer (it will make a really satisfying sizzling sound when the vegetables hit).
- Start your roast. Roast for 10 minutes, to defrost and get the moisture off the vegetables. Then carefully remove the sheet pan, toss the vegetables with another teaspoon or two of oil, sprinkle with salt, stir and return to the oven.
- Finish it. Allow to roast, stirring once or twice, until vegetables are caramelized in spots. This can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on what vegetables you’re using.
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