If not for imports and preserved vegetables, Canadian veggie fans would be stuck on a diet of root vegetables and tubers until spring. And while it’s true that fresh is best, frozen vegetables are handy: they cook quickly, they’re ready when you are, and they’re the only way to enjoy local spring and summer produce in the dead of winter. Plus, it’s always good to increase the ol’ veggie intake.
The reason we’re trying to sell you on frozen foods is because a new survey from the University of Guelph’s food institute and Dalhousie University ultimately found that prices at the grocery store are rising so fast, that Canadians can’t really afford to buy fresh anymore (or at least, many are opting to go frozen instead). In fact, since last April, fresh vegetable costs rose 11.7 per cent and fresh fruit prices increased 11 per cent, according to Statistics Canada. But don’t fret–going frozen doesn’t mean having to suffer through lackluster meals. We have a whole bunch of super-easy and delicious tips – with recipes to match – to get the most from your freezer’s bounty.
Tip #1: Do not thaw
Unless soggy vegetables are your thing, avoid thawing frozen veggies before cooking them. This classic potpie recipe calls for mixed frozen veg to be added before simmering the sauce. GET THE RECIPE
Tip #2: Save ’em for the last second
Quick soups are even quicker when you use frozen vegetables. Add the largest and heartiest vegetables first and save the softer and smaller bits for last. Generally, you’re going to want to wait until the last possible moment, since frozen produce overcooks faster than fresh. This Maryland crab soup uses frozen lima beans, corn, green beans and peas. GET THE RECIPE.
Tip #3: Cook ’em quickly
Modern quick-freezing techniques preserve veggies at their freshest, and the mushiness that once gave them a bad name is largely a thing of the past. But overcook your frozen veg and it’s back to bland. Stir-frying them swiftly, as you do in this quinoa dish, is ideal. GET THE RECIPE.
Tip #4: Play with Texture
So, you put your frozen veg in a bowl before cooking, got distracted and returned to find it semi-thawed? Now when it cooks it will be mushier than you wanted, but if your recipe calls for a variety of complementary textures – like elastic tortilla and chewy chicken – it can still turn out just fine! GET THE RECIPE.
Tip #5: Get Saucy
There’s nothing like a super-savoury sauce to distract from your less-than-fresh vegetables. This easy peasy fettuccine alfredo is a saucy treat that’s ready in under 30 minutes. GET THE RECIPE.
Tip #6: Aim for variety
Mix and match fresh and frozen vegetables to maximize the flavour of your favourite dishes. This customizable, Asian-inspired dumpling soup allows for a mix of frozen and fresh veg – basically, whatever you’ve got on hand – and is the perfect way to add panache to your freezer stash. GET THE RECIPE.
Tip #7: Be Bold
When strong flavours – think teriyaki sauce, Italian herbs, or curry – take the spotlight, it’s harder to notice you’ve swapped frozen for fresh. This Thai green curry calls for frozen peas, but we think baby corn or mushrooms would be just as good.
GET THE RECIPE.
Tip #8: Take Advantage
There are some recipes, like palak paneer or this savoury dip, where frozen spinach’s softened texture is actually preferable. Be sure to thaw and squeeze the spinach well to remove excess water. GET THE RECIPE.
And there you have it! You don’t need to turn your nose up at these frozen babies. They’re here to help, whenever you need ’em. And they’re just as delicious, now that you know what to do with ’em.