Frozen Veggies don’t have to mean Blah flavors.
Winter certainly doesn’t mean the end to enjoying all sorts of veggies. Winter is often a time when we get out our frozen veggies from last summer’s gardens or from the store. Since we freeze things at the peak of ripeness their flavor and nutrients are usually well preserved. There are ways to be sure the flavors come out! And we can add to them some of the “easy-to-get year round” favorites such as carrots, celery, onions. Note also that these 3 are the basis for flavorful Mirepoix as the start of stews and soups.
It’s always fun to create “what’s in your refrigerator?” meals.
Spring bulbs are stirring, which means it’s time to use up the past year’s stores. The freezer revealed *red and orange peppers, *zucchini, *yam and *mushrooms. I added *garlic, *shallots, *red potatoes, *celery, and *carrots to the array.
The yam was in big frozen chunks (it was a small football sized yam from Jane Jacobs garden), while the other things had been frozen more bite size. So, I started the yams first in the oven at 375* on convection for 15 minutes, while I chopped the fresh ingredients in 1/2 to 1 inch pieces – *3 red potatoes, *1 leafy celery stalk,* 2 carrots, *2 shallots, *2 garlic cloves. (Vary the amount of each ingredient to your liking)
The celery leaves were inspiring, and the shallots were beautiful; as I chopped these and the carrots and garlic, I started to think about what herbs and spices I might use.
Winter” veggies ready to roast with snow and mountains seen out the windows.
Here’s what made the vegetable flavors “pop” in this dish:
The yam pieces had thawed nicely and cooking; I took them out to add the mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, potatoes, carrots, celery, shallots. It occurred to me that these last 3 ingredients really are “flavor enhancers” themselves — which is why they are used as a Mirepoix; as they cook, they release their juices and season the whole dish. With adding garlic to these, it seemed that there really was no reason to add other spices and herbs. “Be bold” I told myself “try it without anything else added – not even pepper and, for sure, no salt.”
Adding black eyed peas turned this into a “one-pot”, nutrient packed meal.
After 15 minutes of cooking I could smell the veggies cooking, at which point I decided to add black eyed peas, to turn this into a full meal. It could also have been served without the peas. Back in the oven for 15 more minutes — still on convect at 375*. Meanwhile, I’ll have time to make a salad
Salads are an easy way to be sure you get plenty of greens in your meals.
I’m so fond of salads and all their variations that I often have them at lunch and supper. (Ann Esselstyn also encourages kale at breakfast with balsamic vinegar!)
Great Northerns for Salad
I went back to the freezer and grabbed the green beans from last summer’s garden. I put them in a bowl, added some coriander, which is delicious on green beans, and thawed lightly in the microwave (Not cooked). These were added to a bed of mixed greens and then I cut an orange over them. This makes a delicious salad. If you wanted to turn this into a full meal for lunch, Great Northerns would be a tasty addition.
Now for taste-testing the Veggies!
Flavor Full Veggies
The 15 minute beeper went off , and now it was the time for the “reveal”, to see if I could really make frozen veggies taste great without any additional spices, and no pepper, no salt. EVERY bite was savory — EVERY bite had it’s own lovely flavor. Each vegetable could be tasted. The flavors had really POPPED!
Forsythia Blooming Indoors
As sure as Lenten Roses will POP into bloom before winter is over. And as sure as we can get forsythia to POP into bloom by bringing them in from the freezing cold, we can also get those frozen veggies to POP with flavor!