Blanching vegetables comes up often in many recipes, and is a technique I use repeatedly. So, instead of explaining it each time, I’m making this easy short cut for future reference. What is blanching you ask? It is simply cooking or par-cooking vegetables in a way that they are not overcooked, that their color is displayed best, and the most desirable texture is reached.
Blanching is always the same three steps: boil in salted water, cool in ice bath, then dry. Why bother you ask? Because you want vegetables that are cooked properly and look beautiful! You will notice a difference, when you add your green vegetables to the water their color will immediately become much more vibrant and they will stay that way when you serve them or cook them later.
Blanching is also a good way to store some leafy greens and other vegetables for later in the year- blanch, dry, and pack tightly in plastic bags for the freezer- later when you are making a soup, for example, you can throw your blanched then frozen veg right into the pot.
Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil and then add a good amount of salt- so much that when you taste the water you also taste the salt.
You can prep your veggies while the water is coming to a boil. For leafy greens such as kale and chard I remove the whole spine by folding the leaf in half and running my knife along the stem to separate the leaf from the stalk. For other vegetables such a squash or broccoli just cut them down to however you plan to use them later.
When the veggies are ready- drop them in the boiling water. Timing will depend on what exactly you’re using. For leafy greens like chard and delicate kale try about a minute- for heartier kale varieties maybe slightly longer. For denser vegetables try 2-3 minutes- periodically pulling one out to taste it for texture.
Once the veggies are done remove them and immediately plunge them into an ice bath. This will stop the cooking process so that they will not loose their color or their texture. Once cooled remove from the ice bath so they don’t become water logged. Use kitchen towels to pat dry, for leafy greens use the towels to help wring out excess water.
So this may seem like a pain- but it only takes a second and will absolutely have a positive effect on the look and taste of your vegetables.