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    Cooking vegetables: Common mistakes – and how to solve them!


    Vegetables: They’re packed with nutrients and flavour, and they make an appearance in almost every meal. If we’re asked to describe what’s required in a balanced diet, our minds will probably go straight to vegetables. That being said, do you know how to cook vegetables in a way that preserves their nutritional value?

     

    Here, we’ll show you how to prepare vegetables including the common vegetable preparation mistakes to avoid.

    Vegetable preparation mistake #1: Cooking different vegetables at the same time


    It’s important to know how long to cook vegetables, otherwise you’ll lose some of their nutrients. All types of vegetables have different cooking times, so when you put everything into a pot together – and cook it for the same amount of time – the softer veggies will end up overcooked, while the harder ones may not be cooked enough.

     

    The best way to combat this is to use different cooking methods for different types of vegetables:

     

    Cooking vegetables method 1: Boiling

     

    When it comes to vegetable prep, boiling is a quick and easy method of cooking. However, it’s easy to overboil, which leads to a loss of vital nutrients. Often you only need to simmer some vegetables in the boiling water. For example, when it comes to boiling broccoli you can follow these simple steps:

     

    • Drop evenly sized pieces into boiling water.
    • Return to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
    • Simmer for a few minutes until the broccoli is still a little firm.

     

    Root veggies with a higher starch content, such as potatoes, can withstand boiling over a longer period of time. In this case, simply place the potatoes in cold water and boil gently until soft.

     

    Cooking vegetables method 2: Steaming

     

    Steaming is one of the best solutions when you’re thinking about how to cook vegetables in a way which preserves as many nutrients as possible. Again, it’s worth understanding the different types of vegetables you’re cooking to know how best to steam them.

     

    • Steaming harder vegetables, such as broccoli and carrots: When cooking these types of vegetables, you may want to use a steamer. Don’t forget, you only need a few inches of water at most.
    • Steaming more delicate vegetable, such as asparagus: These types of veggies are easily overcooked. Use recyclable baking parchment to form a small parcel for the stove and steam them in their own juices.

     

    Cooking vegetables method 3: Stir frying


    The opposite of steaming, stir frying is a delicious way to cook veggies over a high heat for a short amount of time. Here’s how you can whip up a nutritious stir-fry in just three simple steps.

     

    1. Heat some oil in a wok.
    2. Add the vegetables, being careful not to overfill the pan.
    3. Continuously stir the vegetables to ensure they’re evenly coated with oil. Don’t forget: always add the vegetables that require a longer cooking time first.


    Top tip: Knowing how to cut vegetables is crucial for stir frying. To ensure even cooking, cut them into evenly sized pieces.

     

    Cooking vegetables method 4: Air frying

     

    For crispy vegetables without the oil, air frying is a tasty and simple option.

     

    1. Pre-heat your air fryer while you prepare the veggies.
    2. As above, cut the veggie into even pieces to ensure even cooking.
    3. Transfer the veggies to the fryer and cook for around 20 minutes.


    With an appliance such as the Philips Airfryer XXL, veggies can be fried, grilled, baked or roasted in large quantities. This makes for a good option when cooking vegetables for up to six people or when you’re entertaining.

     

    Cooking vegetables method 5: Roasting

     

    A great way to cook up a large batch of veggies is to evenly spread them over a large roasting tray. The best way to roast vegetables is to allow for plenty of time and to cook on high heat, following these simple steps.

     

    1. Marinade your veggies in a little oil and seasoning.
    2. Transfer them to the roasting tray.
    3. Again, ensure that you cut the vegetable into even pieces for even cooking.
    4. For maximum taste, most roasting will take around 40 minutes before veggies turn golden and crispy.

    Vegetable preparation mistake #2: Washing vegetables before you need to

    When you’re planning to prepare a meal this evening – but you have a spare moment now – it might be tempting to wash the vegetables in advance. Don’t give in! Once vegetables are washed, they begin to oxidize and lose their nutrients. This is also why you should never wash vegetables before storing them. There is an exception to this rule: leafy greens. These can usually be stored for a day or two before spoiling.

    There are rare instances, however, when a little pre-washing can go a long way:

     

    Vegetable prep before cooking vegetables in an air fryer

     

    If you’ve just prepped some fries for cooking in an air fryer, soak these in a bowl of cold water for around a half hour. This will draw out any excess starch and result in extra crispy fries when it comes to frying. 

     

    Vegetable prep before roasting or stir frying your vegetables

     

    Thoroughly washing the veggie gives you the added opportunity of thoroughly drying it before cooking. Drier veggies will give crispier and more delicious results, especially when it comes to vegetable prep before roasting and stir frying.

    What you need

    Premium

    Airfryer XXL

    HD9650/99

    Premium Airfryer XXL

    HD9650/99

    Maximum taste, minimum fat

    The Philips Airfryer uses hot air to fry your favourite food with little or no added oil. New Fat Removal technology is designed to extract and capture fat from the food, making this the healthiest way to fry for you and your family. See all benefits

    Suggested retail price: £300.00

    Maximum taste, minimum fat

    The Philips Airfryer uses hot air to fry your favourite food with little or no added oil. New Fat Removal technology is designed to extract and capture fat from the food, making this the healthiest way to fry for you and your family. See all benefits

    Maximum taste, minimum fat

    The Philips Airfryer uses hot air to fry your favourite food with little or no added oil. New Fat Removal technology is designed to extract and capture fat from the food, making this the healthiest way to fry for you and your family. See all benefits

    Suggested retail price: £300.00

    Maximum taste, minimum fat

    The Philips Airfryer uses hot air to fry your favourite food with little or no added oil. New Fat Removal technology is designed to extract and capture fat from the food, making this the healthiest way to fry for you and your family. See all benefits

    Vegetable preparation mistake #3: Cutting vegetables too soon


    It’s important to know how to cut vegetables at the right time. Just as with washing, vegetables begin to oxidize as soon as you cut them. You’ve probably seen the way apples start to brown as soon as you bite into them, and vegetables behave in a similar way. So, it’s best to wash and cut your vegetables shortly before use. Here are a few things you know before we show you some classic vegetable cutting techniques.

     

    • Whether you’re preparing courgette or roasting aubergine, if you’re planning to use soft vegetables, don’t cut them until right before cooking or serving.
    • These types of veggies are prone to turning brown and losing their juices.


    If you accidentally cut your aubergine too early, you can use lemon juice or salt to prevent browning until it’s time to use it. This method also helps with other vegetables that brown quickly after cutting, such as parsnips and potatoes.

     

    Wondering how to cut vegetables? Here are three classic techniques for cutting vegetables when the time is right:

     

    How to cut vegetables method 1: Dice

     

    Dicing is a valuable skill when it comes to knowing how to cut vegetables into even pieces for cooking. If required, peel the vegetable before beginning. There are different ways to dice different vegetables. For example, when dicing a shallot:

     

    1. Slice in half.
    2. Next, with one half of the shallot facing down on the chopping board, slice horizontally, being careful not to go all the way through the shallot. 
    3. Now cut the shallot vertically to create the dice. 

     

    How to cut vegetables method 2: Mince

     

    A mince is simply a finer dice. Repeat the above steps with a sharp knife to achieve smaller and more finely cut pieces of vegetable.

     

    How to cut vegetables method 3: Julienne

     

    A julienne is just a thinly sliced stick of vegetable, often referred to as the matchstick cut:

     

    1. Slice lengthwise to create thick slabs. 
    2. Stack the slabs on top of each other and then slice lengthwise into narrow strips of vegetable.

    Vegetable prep top tips:

     

    1. Any utensils that are going to come in contact with food you’re preparing, such as knives and chopping boards, should be clean before use and thoroughly washed after each use.
    2. Either wooden or plastic chopping boards are fine, although plastic boards tend to end up covered in scratches, which can trap bacteria. This doesn’t mean you can’t use them, but it does mean you should wash them particularly thoroughly. Avoid glass boards as they can dull your knives. If your board is unsteady, place a damp cloth underneath before preparing your veggie.
    3. Your kitchen knife should always be sharp. While you don’t need a huge knife collection, a good chef’s knife, a vegetable knife, and a serrated knife go a long way in vegetable prep. The chef’s knife is best for firm vegetables, such as potatoes or carrots, while the vegetable knife is designed for working with smaller or softer vegetables. The serrated knife can cut vegetables and fruits that have a smooth shell, such as tomatoes.

     

    You no longer need to ask, ‘how do you roast vegetables?’ or fret about different ways of cooking vegetables – or even how to cut them. With this simple guide you now have all the skills you need to be a master of your vegetable prep.

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