How to Cook Vegetables


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Preparation may not be the most exciting aspect of cooking vegetables, but learning the correct techniques can make a big difference not only in the appearance of the food or the final results, but also in efficiency. Good technique can keep a beginning cook from getting frustrated and help an experienced cook more thoroughly enjoy time spent in the kitchen.

In the following sections, we offer step-by-step instructions for preparing and cooking vegetables. With a little practice, you'll soon be chopping, dicing, seeding, and zesting like a pro. We'll start with how to cook artichokes on the next page.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Cook Artichokes

The artichoke, specifically the globe artichoke, is actually the unopened flower bud of a thistlelike plant.

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Here are some recipes from our collection that use fruits or vegetables:

Availability: All year; peak March to May.

Buying guide: Look for heavy, plump heads with tightly closed, thick green leaves. Avoid bruised, dried, or fading artichokes with spreading leaves. During the winter months, artichokes will be a bronze color since they have been frostbitten, but there is no loss of flavor.

Storage: Refrigerate in a plastic bag up to 3 days.

History: Northern Europeans considered this thistle a weed. Cherished by people of the Mediterranean for centuries, Italians brought them to America in the 1800s. Today, Castroville, California, produces most of America's crop.

  1. To remove dirt between leaves, soak artichokes for 1 hour in warm salted water.

  2. To prepare artichokes, cut bottom stems from artichokes with utility knife so that artichokes will sit flat and upright. Remove outer, tough leaves; discard.

    Cut the bottom stems off the artichokes and discard.
    Cut the bottom stems off the
    artichokes and discard.

  3. Cut 1 inch off pointed tops of artichokes with chef's knife.

     Cut 1 inch off pointed tops of artichokes with chef's knife.
    Cut 1 inch off pointed tops of
    artichokes with chef's knife.

  4. Snip tips from remaining leaves with scissors.

     Snip tips from remaining leaves with scissors.
    Snip tips from remaining
    leaves with scissors.

  5. To cook artichokes, use large enough stockpot to allow artichokes to fit in a single layer. Add water to stockpot to 4-inch depth. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add lemon juice; drop in artichokes so their bases are at the bottom of pot.

  6. Reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer 30 to 40 minutes until leaves pull easily from bases and artichoke bottoms are tender when pierced with fork.

  7. Drain artichokes upside down in colander so water is not trapped in leaves; set aside until cool enough to handle.

  8. Fill hollowed artichokes with your choice of stuffing mixture, smoothing leaves upward to close slightly. Place on baking sheet; bake 10 to 15 minutes until heated through. Garnish, if desired. Serve immediately.

    You can fill the cavity of the artichoke with your desired stuffing.
    You can fill the cavity of the artichoke
    with your desired stuffing.

  9. To stuff and bake cooked artichokes, spread the outer leaves carefully with your hands. Remove small heart by grasping with fingers, then pulling and twisting. Scoop out the fuzzy choke down to the flat artichoke bottom with spoon.

  10. To microwave artichokes, prepare artichokes as directed through step 4. Rinse in cool water; drain and wrap individually in heavy-duty plastic wrap. Place each wrapped artichoke, bottom side up, in a custard cup. Microwave on HIGH 12 to 14 minutes until leaves pull easily from bases and artichoke bottoms are tender when pierced with fork, turning and rearranging each cup halfway through cooking. Continue as directed.
Brussels sprouts are another vegetable that people are typically not as familiar with preparing. Learn more about this unique vegetable in the next section.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Cook Brussels Sprouts

The Brussels sprout, a member of the cabbage family, is native to northern Europe. It received its name from the Belgian city of Brussels where it was thought to have first been grown.

Availability:
October to March.

Buying Guide: Look for tight, vivid green heads with unblemished, compact leaves. Avoid those with loose leaves and any signs of yellowing.

Storage: Refrigerate in a plastic bag up to 5 days. Use as soon as possible since flavor gets stronger with age.

History: Brussels sprouts are native to northern Europe and belong to the cabbage family. The plant produces numerous small heads arranged in neat rows around a thick stalk (instead of one large head). Their flavor is improved by a touch of frost.

  1. Cut stem from each Brussels sprout and pull off outer or bruised leaves.

    Cut the stem from each Brussels sprout and remove the damaged leaves.
    Cut the stem from each Brussels sprout
    and remove the damaged leaves.

  2. For faster, more even cooking, cross-hatch core by cutting an "X" deep into the stem end of each sprout with small paring knife. Refresh sprouts for 5 minutes in bowl of cold water; drain.

    Cut a an
    Cut an "X" into the stem to
    ensure even cooking.

  3. Use large enough saucepan to allow sprouts to fit in a single layer. Pour cooking liquid (broth or water) into saucepan. To braise sprouts, place sprouts with stem ends down in broth. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; simmer about 5 minutes or just until sprouts turn bright green and are crisp-tender when pierced with a fork.

  4. Uncover; simmer until liquid is almost evaporated. Drain.

    Simmer until almost all of the water has evaporated.
    Simmer until almost all of
    the water has evaporated.

In the next section, we will dive deeper into vegetables with an exploration of how to cut and slice onions.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Cut and Slice Onions

Onions have been used since prehistoric times. They continue to play an essential role in cuisines around the world. They are used as both a seasoning and as a vegetable.
  1. Peel skin. Cut onion in half through the root with utility knife. Place onion half, cut side down, on cutting board.

  2. Holding knife horizontally, make cuts in onion parallel to board, almost to root end. Cut onion vertically into thin slices, holding onion with fingers to keep its shape.

  3. Turn onion and cut crosswise to root end. (The closer the cuts are spaced, the finer the onion will be chopped.) Repeat with remaining onion half.

    Cut the onion crosswise to the root end.
    Cut the onion crosswise to the root end.
Chopping an Onion in a Food Processor

Using a food processor to chop onions will not only save you time, but it can also cut down on the irritating, tear producing, vapors.

  1. Peel and quarter onion; place in bowl.

  2. Pulse 4 to 7 times until onion is finely chopped.

  3. Scrape bowl once during chopping.

    Scrape bowl once during chopping.
    Scrape bowl once during chopping.
  4. Chop enough onion to measure 1/2 cup. Drain onions, if needed.

Preparing peppers can take a little practice. Find some helpful techniques on the next page.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Cut and Slice Peppers

Bell peppers are members of the Capsicum family and are much milder than other members of the pepper family, such as jalapeños.
  1. Make circular cut with paring knife around top of pepper.

    Cut around the stem of the pepper with a paring knife.
    Cut around the stem of the pepper
    with a paring knife.

  2. Pull stem from pepper; scoop out seeds and membrane with a spoon.

    Remove the seeds from the cavity of the pepper.
    Remove the seeds from
    the cavity of the pepper.

  3. Rinse pepper under running water to remove any excess seeds; drain well.

  4. For rings, thinly slice pepper crosswise; remove any excess.

    For rings, thinly slice down the length of the pepper.
    For rings, thinly slice down
    the length of the pepper.

  5. For strips, cut pepper into halves. Slice halves lengthwise into strips.

    For strips, cut the pepper in half and then cut thin strips.
    For strips, cut the pepper in
    half and then cut thin strips.

  6. To chop or dice, gather strips together and slice crosswise into desired size pieces.

    To dice, gather the strips and cut them crosswise.
    To dice, gather the strips
    and cut them crosswise.

Find out how to cook parsnips, a member of the carrot family, on the next page.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Cook Parsnips

Parsnips, more popular than potatoes in medieval times, have never been an American favorite. You may relish the opportunity to cook up this underappreciated dish.

Availability: All year: peak October to March.

Buying Guide: Look for straight, small (5- to 10-inch) smooth-skinned roots. Large ones may have woody cores. Avoid parsnips that are limp or shriveled or that have splits or brown spots.

Storage: Refrigerate in a plastic bag up to 10 days.

History: This carrot family member is ivory or pale yellow and tastes like a combination of a carrot and a sweet potato with an appealing nutty flavor. Since farmers believe frost improves the flavor, parsnips are not harvested until after the first cold spell.

  1. To prepare parsnips, peel with vegetable peeler. Trim ends and cut into 3/4-inch chunks.

    Trim the end of the parsnip into 3/4-inch chunks.
    Trim the end of the parsnip
    into 3/4-inch chunks.
  2. Pour 1 inch water into medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat; add parsnip chunks. Cover; boil 10 minutes or until parsnips are fork-tender. Drain. Place in large bowl. Coarsely mash with fork; if desired.

    Coarsely mash the parsnips after they've been boiled.
    Coarsely mash the parsnips
    after they've been boiled.

In the next section, we will show you how to prepare one of the sweetest vegetables you can eat -- beets.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Cut and Slice Beets

Beets are a firm, round root vegetable with a fairly high sugar content and edible dark green leaves.

Availability:
All year; peak June to October.

Buying Guide: Look for smooth, short-tipped, firm beet roots. Small beets are sweeter. Avoid pale, bruised beets. Buy beets of uniform size to ensure even cooking.

Storage: Separate greens from beet roots. Refrigerate unwashed roots up to 2 weeks and greens in a plastic bag up to 5 days.

History: The Greeks and Romans grew beets for their greens, which are similar in flavor to spinach and may be prepared the same way. Today, most people eat the root, which is also a source of red food coloring.

  1. To prevent color from bleeding during boiling, cut tops off beets, leaving at least 1 inch of stem; do not trim root ends.

    Cut the tops off of the beets, leaving at least 1 inch of stem.
    Cut the tops off of the beets,
    leaving at least 1 inch of stem.

  2. Scrub beets under running water with soft vegetable brush, being careful not to break skins.

    Scrub the beats under running water.
    Scrub the beets under running water.
  3. Place beets in medium saucepan; cover with water. Cover. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium. Simmer about 20 minutes or until just barely firm when pierced with a fork and skins rub off easily. (Larger beets will take longer.)

  4. Drain beets and rub off skins with hands under cool running water. Transfer to plate; cool. Rinse pan.

  5. Cut roots and stems from beets on the plate. Do not cut beets on a cutting board; the juice will stain it.

    Cut the beets on a glass or nonporous surface to avoid staining.
    Cut the beets on a glass or nonporous
    surface to avoid staining.

Shallots can add a wonderful flavor to a dish. Find out how to prepare them on the next page.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Cut and Slice Shallots

Shallots are believed to have originated in Palestine. Although they resemble garlic in appearance, they are a member of the onion family.
  1. Remove papery outer skin from shallot. Cut off root end; discard.

  2. Place a shallot on cutting board. Holding utility knife horizontally, make cuts in shallot parallel to board, almost to root end. Cut shallot vertically into thin slices, holding it with fingers to keep its shape.

    Cut down on the shallot parallel to the cutting board.
    Cut down on the shallot parallel
    to the cutting board.

  3. Turn shallot and cut crosswise to root end. (The closer the cuts are spaced, the finer the shallot will be chopped.)
Cabbage is a delicious vegetable that can be used in many different ways. Learn how to cut and slice it on the next page.

Tip
If you want the onion pieces to be very small and fine, use a box grater instead of the knife. First slice off the stem and root ends and peel away skin; discard. Use the largest holes on the box grater or the onion will disintegrate and become mushy.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Cut and Slice Cabbage

Cabbage -- a member of the crucifer family, which includes Brussles sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale -- has long been a popular vegetable in many of the world's cuisines.
  1. Discard any wilted or bruised outer leaves of cabbage.

  2. Place cabbage on cutting board; cut into 4 wedges with chef's knife.

  3. Carefully cut away core; discard

  4. Slice cabbage wedges crosswise to form shreds.

    To shred the cabbage, slice the wedges crosswise.
    To shred the cabbage, slice the
    wedges crosswise.

Learn how to cook another member of the greens family -- kale -- on the next page.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Cook Kale

Kale was prehaps the first form of cabbage to be cultivated as long as two thousand years ago. Kale is quickly identified by its very curly leaves arragned like a bouquet.

Availability: All year: peak December through April.

Buying Guide: Look for crisp, dark, and tender greens. Avoid those with yellow or brown wilted leaves, bruises, coarse stalks, or woody stems. Smaller leaves tend to be milder and more tender.

Storage: Refrigerate, unwashed, in a plastic bag up to 3 days.

History: Kale, collards, and mustard greens are members of the Brassica, or cabbage, family. Mature greens might need long boiling to become tender. Young greens can be stir-fried, steamed, or sautéd briefly. Greens are high in vitamin C and calcium.

  1. Rinse kale well in large bowl of warm water; place in colander. Drain.

    Thoroughly rinse the kale in a large bowl of water.
    Thoroughly rinse the kale in
    a large bowl of water.

  2. Discard any discolored leaves. To trim away tough stem ends, make "V-shaped" cut at stem end; discard tough stems.

    Discard any tough stems while trimming.
    Discard any tough stems while trimming.
  3. Prepare a chiffonade of the leaves by rolling them up jellyroll style.

    Roll up the kale leaves and cut them crosswise.
    Roll up the kale leaves
    and cut them crosswise.
  4. Slice the rolled leaves crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices with chef's knife. Separate the kale into strips.

    Separate the sliced kale into thin strips.
    Separate the sliced kale into thin strips.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to large, heated skillet. Heat oil; add strips of kale. Cook and stir over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes until wilted and tender (older leaves may take slightly longer).

    Cook the kale until it is wilted and tender.
    Cook the kale until it is wilted and tender.

To get some delicious kale recipes, check out 10 Ways to Cook Kale.

Spinach is another delightful green vegetable that is extremely good for you. Find out how to prepare it in the next section.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Prepare Spinach

Spinach is said to have been cultivated in Persian gardens thousands of years ago. Today, spinach is a popular part of American cuisine.

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Here are some recipes from our collection that use spinach and other greens:

Availability: All year; peak March to June.

Buying Guide: Look for dark green, fresh leaves, Avoid yellow, wilted, bruised, or mushy leaves.

Storage: Refrigerate, unwashed, in a plastic bag up to 3 days.

History: Because spinach grows rapidly, flavored, sandy soil becomes embedded in the leaves. It must be washed thoroughly to remove grit before using. The Spanish brought spinach to America. Although it is popular both cooked and raw in salads in the United States, most of the world prefers it cooked. Dishes that are named "a la Florentine" contain spinach.
  1. Separate spinach into leaves. Swish in warm water. Repeat several times with fresh warm water to remove sand and grit. Pat dry with paper towels.

    Thoroughly rinse the spinach to remove any sand or grit.
    Thoroughly rinse the spinach to
    remove any sand or grit.
  2. To remove stems from spinach leaves, fold each leaf in half, then with hand pull stem toward top of leaf. Discard stem. Blot moisture from leaves with paper towels.

    Fold the spinach leaf in half and gently tear off the stem.
    Fold the spinach leaf in half
    and gently tear off the stem.

  3. To stir-fry spinach, quickly place in wok. Cook and stir 1 or 2 minutes just until spinach wilts. Transfer to serving dish. Add butter or sauce. Toss and serve immediately.

    To stir-fry spinach, cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until wilted.
    To stir-fry spinach, cook for
    1 to 2 minutes or until wilted.

We'll continue with the popular vegetable that's actually a fruit -- the tomato -- in the next section.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Cook Tomatoes

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Here are some recipes from our collection that use tomatoes:

Tomatoes are the third most widely consumed vegetable in the United States, lagging behind potatoes and lettuce. It is estimated that more than 80 percent of garden plants are tomatoes.

Peeling a Tomato

Many recipes ask you to peel a tomato, but it is not as simple as peeling an apple.
  1. Cut skin-deep "X" on bottom of each tomato. Place no more than 2 tomatoes at a time in saucepan of simmering water for 10 seconds.

  2. Remove with slotted spoon; plunge immediately into bowl of cold water for another 10 seconds.

  3. Remove loosened peel with paring knife.

    Remove loosened peel with paring knife.
    Remove loosened peel with paring knife.
Chopping Sun-Dried Tomatoes

The name says it all. Sun-dried are usually Roma tomatoes that have been left out in the sun until most of their water evaporates.
  1. Spray blade of chef's knife with nonstick cooking spray.

    Spray the blade of your knife with nonstick cooking spry to ensure an even cut.
    Spray the blade of your knife with
    nonstick cooking spry to ensure
    an even cut.

  2. Arrange sun-dried tomatoes in single layer on cutting board.

  3. Cut tomatoes into strips. Line up strips and cut crosswise into pieces of desired size. Spray knife as needed to prevent sticking.

    Cut the tomatoes into strips, and then cut the strips crosswise.
    Cut the tomatoes into strips
    and then cut the strips crosswise.

Seeding a Tomato

Next to peeling, the other maddening tomato preparation that most recipes call for is seeding.
  1. Cut tomato into halves. Remove stem. Scrape out seeds with spoon.

    Half the tomato and then scoop the seeds out with a spoon.
    Half the tomato and then scoop
    the seeds out with a spoon.

  2. Alternate Method: Cut an "X" in the bottom of tomato. Hold tomato over bowl, sliced side down, and squeeze to remove seeds.

    You can also remove the seeds by squeezing the tomato as you would a lemon.
    You can also remove the seeds by
    squeezing the tomato as you
    would a lemon.

Learn all about the cucumber in the next section.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Seed Cucumbers

A refreshing appetite stimulator and more than 95 percent water, the cucumber fits the saying "cool as a cucumber."
  1. Remove cucumber peels with paring knife or vegetable peeler.

  2. Cut in half lengthwise and scrap out seed with a small spoon; discard.

    Cut the halves lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a spoon.
    Cut the halves lengthwise and scrape
    out the seeds with a spoon.

Zucchini is another refreshing vegetable. Learn more about it in the next section.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Dice Zucchini

Zucchini is a popular summer squash with a thin edible skin and soft edible seeds. It has a cylindrical shape and a slightly curved, smaller stem end.
  1. Scrub zucchini with vegetable brush under cold running water.

  2. Slice lengthwise into halves with utility knife. (If zucchini is large, cut into 4 lengthwise pieces.) Cut each piece into 4 to 6 lengthwise strips.

  3. Holding strips together with fingers, cut crosswise into bite-size pieces.

    Cut your strips crosswise into bite-size pieces.
    Cut your strips crosswise
    into bite-size pieces.

You'll want to lend an ear on the next page, when we learn how to cook corn.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Cook Corn

Sweet corn is a hybrid strain of regular corn designed to be higher in sugar content.
Try it!


  1. To shuck corn, pull outer husks down the ear to the base. Snap off husks and stem at base.

    Snap off husks and stem at base.
    Snap off husks and stem at base.
  2. Strip away silk from corn by hand.

    Remove any stray strands of silk.
    Remove any stray strands of silk.
  3. Remove any remaining silk with dry vegetable brush. Trim any blemishes from corn and rinse under cold running water.

    Scrub the ears with a dry vegetable brush.
    Scrub the ears with a dry vegetable brush.
  4. Pour 1 inch of water into large saucepan or skillet. (Do not add salt, as it will make corn tough.) Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add ears; cover. Cook 4 to 7 minutes until kernels are slightly crisp when pierced with fork.

  5. Remove corn with tongs to warm serving platter.
Eggplant can be used in a variety of recipes. Learn tips for preparing it along with links to eggplant recipes on the next page.

Tip
To remove kernels from cobs of either raw or cooked sweet corn, stand cob upright on its stem end in a large pan, holding tip with fingers. Cut down the sides of cob with sharp paring knife, releasing kernels without cutting into cob. Run dull edge of knife down the cob to release any remaining corn and liquid.

 

Stand the cob on end and cut down the sides, releasing the kernels.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

Cooking Eggplant

Try It!
Here are some recipes from our collection that use eggplant:

Eggplants originated in Asia, probably India, but most Americans associate them with the cuisine of southern Italy where they have been popular for hundreds of years.
  1. Place oven rack to lowest position. Preheat oven to 450°F. Rinse eggplant. To prepare eggplant, trim off cap and stem end. Cut eggplant into 1/4-inch-thick slices with chef's knife. Place in large colander over bowl; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Drain 1 hour.

    Sprinkling the eggplant with salt will help remove any excess moisture.
    Sprinkling the eggplant with salt will
    help remove any excess moisture.

  2. Place eggplant slices in a single layer on baking sheet or jellyroll pan; brush both sides lightly with some of oil.

    Brush both sides of the eggplant with oil.
    Brush both sides of the eggplant with oil.
  3. To roast eggplant slices, bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned on bottoms. Turn slices over with tongs; roast about 5 minutes more or until tops are lightly browned and slices are softened; set aside.

    The eggplant will be done when the tops are brown and softened.
    The eggplant will be done when the
    tops are brown and softened.

Learn how to prepare butternut squash on the next page.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Cook Squash

While it does take some work to prepare squash, its versatility within recipes is worth the extra effort.

Preparing Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is a winter squash. Pick squashes in the fall when they are mature.

  1. Remove skin from squash with a vegetable peeler or utility knife. Use short, strong strokes, because the waxy skin is very tough and hard.

    Use short, long strokes to remove the skin.
    Use short, long strokes to remove the skin.
  2. Trim off stem with chef's knife.

  3. Cut squash in half lengthwise.

  4. Scoop out seeds with a spoon; discard

    Scoop the seeds out of the squash and discard them.
    Scoop the seeds out of the
    squash and discard them.

  5. Cut squash into 1- to 2-inch pieces.

  6. Bring cooking liquid to a boil in large saucepan over medium-high heat; add squash.

  7. Reduce heat to medium; cover and simmer 30 minutes or until squash is fork-tender. Transfer squash to serving bowl with slotted spoon.
Preparing Spaghetti Squash

This is another winter squash, known for its stringy, yellow flesh.
  1. To bake squash, pierce in several places with cooking fork to vent steam.

    Pierce the skin of the squash to create vent holes for escaping steam.
    Pierce the skin of the squash to create
    vent holes for escaping steam.

  2. Place squash in large foil-lined baking dish; bake 20 minutes at 375°F.

  3. Turn squash upside down; cook 25 minutes more or until easily depressed with finger. (Larger squash may take longer to cook.) Cut in half immediately to stop cooking.

    Cook the squash until it yields easily to the touch.
    Cook the squash until it
    yields easily to the touch.

  4. Scoop out seeds; discard.

  5. To remove spaghetti strands from squash, "comb" through pulp with two forks. Transfer to a warm serving platters and serve with butter and grated cheese or your favorite sauce.

Next, we will dip into the legume family by learning about green beans.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Cook Green Beans

Like a legumes, green beans are an edible seeded pod. While some legumes are eaten without the pod, green beans are eaten whole.

Availability:
Sporadically all year; peak May to August.

Buying Guide: Look for vivid green, crisp, tender beans without scars and well-shaped slim pods with small seeds. Buy beans of uniform size to ensure even cooking. Avoid bruised or large beans.

Storage: Refrigerate, unwashed, in a plastic bag up to 2 days.

History: Spanish conquistadors brought beans to Europe from Central America, where they originated.

  1. Place beans in colander; rinse well. To prepare beans, snap off stem end from each bean, pulling strings down to remove if present. (Young tender beans may have no strings.)

    Snap the ends off each bean, and remove any strings.
    Snap the ends off each bean,
    and remove any strings.
  2. Slice beans lengthwise on cutting board with chef's knife; set aside.

    Slice beans lengthwise on a cutting board.
    Slice beans lengthwise
    on a cutting board.

  3. Bring 1 inch of water in 2-quart saucepan to a boil over high heat. Add beans. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 8 minutes or until beans are crisp-tender; drain.

Lima beans are another delicious legume. Find out how to prepare them on the next page.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Cook Lima Beans

Lima beans are relatively large, flat, kidney-shaped light green beans. These beans are usually removed from their pods before eating.

Availability:
August and September.

Buying Guide: Look for green, shiny, and pliable pods; beans should fill pods well. Avoid pods with signs of drying. Half the weight (the shell) is waste. Although yields vary according to size of bean, 1 pound when shelled will measure 1 to 2 cups of beans. Buy plump shelled beans with green to greenish-white skins.

Storage: Refrigerate pods in a perforated plastic bag up to 3 days. Use as soon as possible since flavor is best when fresh. Shell just before using.

History: Lima beans were named for the capital of Peru, the country which they originated. Also called "butter beans," limas come in many sizes. Young lima beans are interchangeable with fresh fava beans, cowpeas, and shelling beans in recipes.

  1. To shell beans, open pods at seams by pinching pods between thumbs and forefingers.

    Pinch the pod between your fingers and pry it open.
    Pinch the pod between your
    fingers and pry it open.

  2. Remove beans; discard shells.

    Remove the beans and discard the shells.
    Remove the beans and
    discard the shells.

Learn how to cook asparagus in the next section.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Cook Asparagus

Asparagus, once an anxiously harbinger of spring, is now available almost year-round. Asparagus is the tender shoot of a perennial vegetable from the lily family.

Try It!
Here is a recipe from our collection that uses asparagus:

Availability: Sporadically all year; peak March
to June.

Buying Guide: Look for firm, straight spears with closed, tightly budded compact tips. The stalks should be crisp not wilted. Buy spears of uniform size to ensure even cooking. Avoid woody, dry stems.

Storage: Stand cut ends in an inch of water or wrap ends in a moist paper towel or cloth; place in a plastic bag, making sure tips stay dry. Refrigerate up to 5 days.

History: Ancient Greeks and Romans believed asparagus could cure toothaches and prevent bee stings. New plants must be nurtured two years before producing a crop.
  1. To prepare asparagus, snap off tough ends of spears where they break easily.

    Snap off the though ends of the spears where they break easily.
    Snap off the tough ends of the
    spears where they break easily.
  2. To prevent tips from cooking faster than stems, peel stem ends with vegetable peeler.

    If you peel the ends slightly, the spear should cook evenly.
    If you peel the ends slightly,
    the spear should cook evenly.

  3. To steam asparagus, rinse asparagus and place in steamer basket. Place steamer basket in large saucepan; add 1 inch of water. (Water should not touch bottom of basket.) Cover. Bring to a boil over high heat; steam asparagus 5 to 8 minutes until crisp-tender. Add water, as necessary, to prevent pan from boiling dry.

    Add water, if necessary, to prevent burning.
    Add water, if necessary,
    to prevent burning
    .

Black-eyed peas are a unique member of the legume family. Find out more about it on the next page.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Cook Black-Eyed Peas

Try It!
Here is a recipe from our collection that uses black-eyed peas:

This Southern favorite is really a bean, not a pea. Black-eyed peas are small tan beans that take their name from the black eye-shaped mark on the inner curve of the bean.
  1. Place fresh black-eyed peas in large saucepan. Cover with water; bring to a boil over high heat.

  2. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, until peas are soft when pierced with fork, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain.

    Simmer the peas until they are soft when they are pierced with a fork.
    Simmer the peas until they are soft
    when they are pierced with a fork.

In the next section, we'll take a look at peas that really are peas...English peas and snow peas.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

Cooking Peas

Peas are a sweet, tender vegetable that, when cooked properly, are a real treat.

Preparing English (Green) Peas

  1. To prepare peas, press each pea pod between thumbs and forefingers to open.

    Pry the peapod apart with your thumb and forefinger.
    Pry the peapod apart with
    your thumb and forefinger.

  2. Push peas out with thumb into colander; discard pods. Rinse peas under running water. Drain well.

    Rinse off the peas under running, cold water.
    Rinse off the peas under
    cold, running water.

  3. Heat butter in medium skillet over medium-high heat until melted and bubbly. Cook and stir peas in hot butter for 5 minutes or until crisp and tender.
Preparing Snow Peas

Snow-pea pods are edible, much like green beans. They are slightly sweet and have thin, soft pods.

Availability:
All year; peak fall and spring.

Buying Guide: Look for bright green pods that are firm, crisp, small, and flat with immature seeds. Avoid peas that are drying along the seam.

Storage: Refrigerate, unwashed, in a plastic bag up to 2 days.

History: The snow or Chinese pea pod originated in Holland. Its pod is edible. When crossed with the English pea in 1979, the sugar snap pea was perfected.

  1. To de-stem peas decoratively, pinch off stem end from each pod, pulling strings down the pod to remove if present. (Young tender pods may have no strings.)

    Pinch of the stem end of each pod and remove any excess strings.
    Pinch off the stem end of each pod
    and remove any excess strings.

  2. Make a "V-shaped" cut at opposite end of pod with utility knife.

    Make a
    Use knife to make a "V-shaped"
    cut at opposite end of pod.

  3. To stir-fry, place wok or large skillet over high heat. (Test hot pan by adding drop of water to pan; if water sizzles, pan is sufficiently hot.) Add oil, swirling to coat sides. Heat oil until hot, about 30 seconds. Briskly toss and stir with wok utensil or spoon, keeping vegetables in constant motion about 4 minutes or until peas are bright green and crisp-tender.

    Keep the vegetables in constant motion as you cook them.
    Keep the vegetables in constant
    motion as you cook them.

In the next section, we will address how to best prepare broccoli.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

Steaming Broccoli

Try It!
Here are some recipes from our collection that use broccoli:

Though grown in Italy centuries ago, broccoli didn't become popular in the United States until the 1920s when it began appearing in the home gardens of Italian immigrants.

Availability: All year; peak October to April.

Buying Guide: Look for tightly closed, compact, dark green to purplish-green flowerets on tender, firm stalks. Avoid those with yellow flowers,
wilted leaves, and thick, tough stems.

Storage: Refrigerate in a plastic bag up to 4 days.

History: A son of cabbage, broccoli was developed by horticulturalists from its flower. This Asian vegetable was cultivated in Italy in the 16th century. Although Thomas Jefferson brought it to America in the early 1800s for his garden at Monticello, it was not common on American tables until the 1920s.

  1. Trim leaves from broccoli stalks. Trim off tough ends of stalks. Cut broccoli into flowerets by removing each head; include a small piece of the stem.

    Cut the broccoli into flowerets by removing the majority of the stalk.
    Cut the broccoli into flowerets by
    removing the majority of the stalk.

  2. Peel stems with vegetable peeler; cut crosswise into pieces, if desired.

    To prepare the broccoli stem, peel and cut crosswise.
    To prepare the broccoli stem,
    peel and cut crosswise.
  3. To steam broccoli, rinse flowerets and pieces. Place steamer basket in large saucepan; add 1 inch of water. (Water should not touch bottom of basket.) Place buttons in steamer; top with flowerets. Cover. Bring to a boil over high heat; steam 4 to 6 minutes until bright green and crisp-tender. Add water, as necessary, to prevent pan from boiling dry.

    Steam the broccoli until it turns bright green and crisp-tender.
    Steam the broccoli until it turns
    bright green and crisp-tender.

Cauliflower has many of the same characteristics of broccoli. Learn about this vegetable on the next page.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Cook Cauliflower

The cauliflower head contains small, tightly compact white florets on thick stems. The entire plant is edible, including the leaves.

Try It!
Here is a recipe from our collection that uses cauliflower:

Availability:
All year; peak October and November.

Buying Guide: Look for a creamy white head with tightly packed, crisp flowerets. Leaves should look bright green. Avoid heads with brown spots or dry leaves.

Storage: Refrigerate in original packaging or in a plastic bag up to 4 days.

History: When this advanced cabbage is growing, its large green leaves are wrapped around its head to block the sunlight and 'blanch" it, or keep it white. Cauliflower can also be purple, which is common in southern Italy.

  1. Cut leaves from cauliflower by slicing through stem between head and leaves with chef's knife; remove and discard leaves and stem.

    Sever the head of the cauliflower from the stem with a kitchen knife.
    Sever the head of the cauliflower from
    the stem with a kitchen knife.

  2. Cut around core with paring knife, being careful not to separate florets from head; remove and discard core. Rinse.

    Carefully cut out the core, making sure not to damage the florets.
    Carefully cut out the core, making
    sure not to damage the florets.

  3. Pour 1 inch of water into large saucepan. Place cauliflower in water, stem side down; cover. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low. Simmer 10 to 12 minutes until crisp-tender; drain. Place cauliflower in 8 X 8-inch baking dish.
Prepping Cauliflower Florets

When most people prepare cauliflower, they only want to use the florets.
  1. Cut leaves from cauliflower by slicing through stem between head and leaves with chef's knife. Remove and discard leaves and stem.

  2. Cut around core with paring knife; remove and discard core.

  3. Break head into pieces, using a utility knife, if needed.

    Break head into pieces, using a utility knife, if needed.
    Break head into pieces,
    using a utility knife, if needed.

  4. Cut pieces into bite-size florets with tip of paring knife.
In our final section, you will find our handy chart for buying fresh vegetables.

Vegetable-Cooking Chart

With the proliferation of Farmer's Markets, more folks gardening at home, and the ability to ship produce around the world at an amazing speed, you have an ever-growing variety of fresh vegetables to choose from year-round. But it's easy to become bewildered by the variety if you don't know how to select, store, and prepare them properly.

To help, we've compiled basic information about some of the most popular vegetables in a handy chart to help take the guesswork out of cooking them. The following vegetable chart shows you various cooking methods and times at a glance. As you refer to this chart, please keep the following in mind:
  1. The times on the chart are for one pound of vegetable unless otherwise noted.

  2. The times are in minutes.

  3. A range of time is given because cooking times vary due to the age and size of the vegetables. Vegetables are done when they are tender, but still crisp. (They should not be mushy.)

  4. Steaming times begin when the water boils and creates steam.

  5. When microwaving, some vegetables require no water except the droplets that cling to them when rinsed.

  6. Blanching prepares vegetables for freezing. Timing begins when vegetables are dropped into a large pot of boiling water. Plunge vegetables immediately into ice water after cooking, then drain and pat dry with paper towels before freezing.

  7. Boiling requires covering the bottom of a pan with 1/2 to 1 inch of water. Use more water for whole, dense vegetables, such as beets, turnips, and kohlrabi. Bring water to a boil before adding vegetables.

  8. Some cooking methods are not recommended for certain vegetables. This is indicated in the chart by the abbreviation "NR."
Vegetable Steam
Microwave
Blanch
Boil
Other
Artichoke, whole
30 to 60
4 to 5 each NR
25 to 40
NR
Artichoke, hearts
10 to 15
6 to 7 8 to 12
10 to 15 Stir-fry 10
Asparagus 8 to 10 4 to 6
2 to 3 5 to 12
Stir-fry pieces 5
Beans, green
5 to 15 6 to 12
4 to 5
10 to 20
Stir-fry 3 to 4
Beans, lima
10 to 20
8 to 12
5 to 10
20 to 30
NR
Beets
40 to 60 14 to 18 NR
30 to 60
Bake 60 at 350°F
Broccoli, spears
8 to 15 6 to 7
3 to 4
5 to 10
Blanch, then bake
Broccoli, flowerets
5 to 6 4 to 5
2 to 3
4 to 5
Stir-fry 3 to 4
Brussels sprouts
6 to 12 7 to 8
4 to 5
5 to 10
Halve; stir-fry 3 to 4
Cabbage, wedges
6 to 9 10 to 12 NR 10 to 15
Blanch leaves, stuff and bake
Cabbage, shredded
5 to 8 8 to 10
NR
5 to 10
Stir-fry 3 to 4
Carrots, whole
10 to 15
8 to 10 4 to 5
15 to 20
Bake 30 to 40 at 350°F
Carrots, sliced
4 to 5 4 to 7
3 to 4
5 to 10
Stir-fry 3 to 4
Cauliflower, whole 15 to 20 6 to 7
4 to 5
10 to 15
Blanch, then back 20 at 350°F
Cauliflower, florets
6 to 10 3 to 4
3 to 4
5 to 8
Stir-fry 3 to 4
Corn, on cob 6 to 10
3 to 4
3 to 4
4 to 7
Soak 10; bake at 375°F
Corn, cut 4 to 6 2 per cup
2 1/2 to 4
3 to 4
Stir-fry 3 to 4
Eggplant, whole 15 to 30 7 to 10 10 to 15
10 to 15
Bake 30 at 400
Eggplant, diced 5 to 6
5 to 6
3 to 4
5 to 10
Bake 10 to 15 425°F
Greens, collard/mustard/turnip NR 18 to 20
8 to 15
30 to 60
Stir-fry mustard greens 4 to 6
Greens, kale/beet 4 to 6
8 to 10
4 to 5
5 to 8 Stir-fry 2 to 3
Kohlrabi 30 to 35
8 to 12
NR
15 to 30
Bake 50 to 60 at 350°F
Mushrooms 4 to 5 3 to 4
NR
3 to 4 in broth or wine
Stir-fry or broil 4 to 5
Onions, whole 20 to 25 6 to 10
NR
20 to 30
Bake 60 at 400°F
Onions, pearl 15 to 20
5 to 7
2 to 3
10 to 20
Braise in broth 15 to 25
Parsnips 8 to 10
4 to 6
3 to 4
5 to 10
Bake 30 at 325°F
Peas 3 to 5 5 to 7
1 to 2
8 to 12
Stir-fry 2 to 3
Peppers, bell 2 to 4 2 to 4
2 to 3
4 to 5
Stir-fry 2 to 3
Potatoes, whole 12 to 30 6 to 8
NR
20 to 30
Bake 40 to 60 at 400°F
Potatoes, cut 10 to 12 8 to 10
NR
15 to 20
Bake 25 to 30 at 400°F
Spinach 5 to 6
3 to 4 2 to 3
2 to 5
Stir-fry 3
Squash, sliced
5 to 10
3 to 6
2 to 3
5 to 10
NR
Squash, halves
15 to 40
6 to 10
NR
5 to 10
Bake 40 to 60 at 375°F
Squash, whole
NR
5 to 6
NR
20 to 30
Bake 40 to 90 at 350°F
Tomatoes
2 to 3
3 to 4
1 to 2
NR
Bake havles 8 to 15 at 400
Turnips, whole
20 to 25
9 to 12
NR
15 to 20
Bake 30 to 45 at 350°F
Turnips, cubed
12 to 15
6 to 8
2 to 3
5 to 8
Stir-fry 2 to 3
Zucchini
5 to 10
3 to 6
2 to 3
5 to 10
Broil halves 5

Because vegetables are such a vital part of our diet, it is important to know how to prepare as many varieties as possible. After all, you need to keep eating your greens. Most people don't get nearly the recommended amount of vegetables each day, but now lack of knowledge can't be your excuse!

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Both tasty and good for you, vegetables are a great vehicle to try out new seasonings and cooking methods. Find plenty of ideas on our Vegetable Recipes page.
  • Grilling Vegetables: Grilling vegetables is not only easy but it also produces a rich tasting, healthy treat. Learn how to grill vegetables in this article.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.