Why You Should Be Blanching Vegetables

Even though it sounds old-fashioned, blanching is a great technique for any home cook to know. To blanch means to quickly boil and then place in a bath of ice water to stop the cooking process suddenly. This softens vegetables while locking in their colors so they stay bright and fresh-looking.

Blanching is also a wonderful technique to use for certain vegetables — such as broccoli — that are to be used in salads or crudité platters. The result is broccoli florets that are perfectly crunchy, but not excessively hard to chew.

Follow these four steps to blanch broccoli for the salad recipe below.

Step 1: Trim the Stems

Blanching: step 1: trim the stems | Food and Nutrition Magazine | Stone Soup Blog

When I blanch broccoli, I begin by trimming the stems because I like to use the whole broccoli stalk, not just the florets. Then, I cut the pieces so they are all the same size and will cook evenly.

Step 2: Boil

Blanching: step 2: boil the broccoli | Food and Nutrition Magazine | Stone Soup Blog

Next, I bring a large pot of water to a boil and plunge the florets and stalks in. How long should they cook? It depends on your preference, but for me, 2 minutes is plenty.

Step 3: Ice Bath

Blanching: step 3: Put broccoli in an ice bath | Food and Nutrition Magazine | Stone Soup Blog

While the broccoli is boiling, fill a large bowl with ice water. After the time is up, remove the broccoli from the boiling water with a slotted spoon or mesh strainer and drop it immediately into the ice water. This ice water will quickly halt the cooking process. If it were allow to cool gradually at room temperature, the broccoli could lose its vibrant green color and crisp texture.

Step 4: Drain and Use

When the broccoli has cooled completely, remove it from the ice bath and thoroughly drain it.


Broccoli and Wheat Berry Salad

Recipe by Regina Ragone, RDN, MS; and Susan Mitchell, PhD, RDN, FAND

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup Greek yogurt
  • ⅓ cup light mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 large head broccoli (1½ pounds), cut into florets (or 6 cups broccoli florets), blanched
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • ½ cup cooked wheat berries
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup walnuts

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, salt and pepper.
  2. Add blanched broccoli, red onion, wheat berries, raisins and walnuts. Toss with yogurt dressing until combined. Serve or refrigerate until serving.
Regina Ragone, RDN, MS, and Susan Mitchell, PhD, RDN, FAND on GoogleRegina Ragone, RDN, MS, and Susan Mitchell, PhD, RDN, FAND on Twitter
Regina Ragone, RDN, MS, and Susan Mitchell, PhD, RDN, FAND
Susan Mitchell, PhD, RDN, FAND, and Regina Ragone MS, RDN, share the food you love, how to stay fit for life and be fabulous everyday through their Breaking Down Nutrition podcasts, videos, social media and websites Food Fit Fabulous and BreakingDownNutrition.com. Connect with them here and on Google+ and Twitter.


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