I love Kale. It’s not that I grew up with it. In fact, the first time I had kale was probably just 3-4 years ago. It didn’t take long before I made it a staple in my house.
I remember one of the first times I tasted it. My husband’s mother had made it at his sister’s house and I was having leftovers. I couldn’t believe that such a coarse, leafy vegetable could taste so good. Now, it’s like I crave it!
The point of my story is that I never would’ve tried to cook kale without some mentoring of how to do it. I have love/hate stories about many different vegetables including broccoli, green beans, spinach, cabbage, etc. And by mentoring I’m talking about more than how to pour them out of a can into a pan and turn the heat on, or the ‘can-pan-&-heat’ style of my husband’s earlier years! Here’s what I have learned.
Your "made easy" guide to cooking vegetables:
Cooking vegetables is a procedure. Different ingredients can be substituted, but the procedure remains. First I’ll give you the procedure and then I’ll tell you which vegetables to use with what seasonings. You may have some more ideas and I would love to hear them!
The Procedure (Something I’ll call a combination of pan frying and steaming):
- Pour oil (I usually use Canola or peanut) into a pan till it thinly coats the bottom.
- Add chopped onion, minced garlic, or both.
- Heat oil and onion and/or garlic until hot. (I think this is the secret; don’t add vegetables to cold oil!It’s hot when a water droplet hits it and pops).
- Add vegetable and stir to mix with oil.
- After vegetables start turning bright and before they start burning, add some water to the pan (just enough to keep vegetables from burning; add more water as needed).
- Cover and let cook/steam until done (taste test to tell).
- Add salt or other seasoning as desired.
Here are some specifics for different vegetables and how I cook them:
- Kale (chop): Cook onion in oil until transparent, then add chopped kale, water and salt; cook until tender, about 15 minutes.
- Broccoli (stems can be used if you cut off the skin and chop): Garlic and salt
- Cabbage (chop): Onion and salt
- Spinach: Garlic – NOTE: With spinach, I don’t need to add water if the spinach is rinsed. The water on the leaves from rinsing is enough. Even more importantly is that it’s almost impossible to undercook spinach while stir-frying. It’s very easy to over cook it. I add it to the pan and stir it around until it wilts.
- Collards (Chop; They’re not my favorite, but I’ll cook them on occasion): No garlic or onion; Add brown sugar and red wine vinegar with the water.
- Green beans: Garlic and salt.
- Yellow squash/ Zuchini (slice): Onion. After cooked I sprinkle sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame seeds on for flavor
- Okra (I use fresh or frozen whole okra): Onion. I add okra and fresh or canned diced tomato along with the water. After cooked, season with cajun salt.
- Asparagus (cut off and toss coarse ends): No garlic or onion; salt
That’s your practical tip for the day, I hope you enjoy it!