Regardless of our good intentions, most of us have a bag of frozen vegetables that have lived in our freezer for a long time. Frozen vegetables never seem to be as good as fresh vegetables. But don’t worry; this post will dive into all the ways you can make frozen vegetables taste good.
WHAT ARE FROZEN VEGETABLES?
As the name suggests, frozen vegetables are vegetables that are harvested, cleaned, and frozen. Frozen vegetables are actually picked at their peak ripeness, so they usually have a stronger flavor and more nutrition than fresh vegetables.
They are usually cheaper and more convenient than fresh vegetables, which makes them a great way to get your veggie intake with less work and effort. They might be a bit tough to cook properly, though, which is why frozen vegetables often get a bit of a bad reputation.
HOW TO MAKE FROZEN VEGETABLES TASTE GOOD
Be careful not to overcook them.
Just like fresh vegetables, overcooking frozen vegetables will make them mushy, limp, and unpalatable. Frozen vegetables are already par-cooked (or fully cooked), so they don’t need to be cooked as long as fresh vegetables. Don’t boil frozen vegetables because boiling often gives the frozen veggies a mushy texture.
It’s best to steam frozen vegetables or to lessen the time recommended on the bag. This will keep the vegetables crisp and tastier.
Hide the veggies.
When it comes to using frozen vegetables in cooking, it’s best to use them in recipes where vegetables aren’t the main focus. Frozen vegetables generally need more seasoning and fat to make them taste good like fresh vegetables. When frozen vegetables are hidden in stews or curries, no one will pay attention to how the veggies taste or feel. It’s a great tip to use since getting the right cooking time can be tough!
Don’t forget the seasoning.
Frozen vegetables can taste good as is, but they taste so much better with some seasoning. You don’t have to douse the veggies in a bunch of herbs and spices, but a little bit of seasoning can go a long way. Some great ways to spice up the frozen veggies are:
- Acid: adding a bit of lemon juice or vinegar gives the frozen vegetables a nice refreshing flavor.
- Spicy: sprinkle on some salt, dried red chili flakes, onion powder, or fresh garlic or garlic powder to give the vegetables a kick.
- Fat: top the vegetables with a bit of butter or olive oil. Butter can fix almost any problem.
- Herbs: dried oregano, thyme, or rosemary will provide the frozen vegetables with a lovely earthy flavor.
Experiment with different seasonings and toppings to see what tastes best. This tip works for sauces as well. Pour a bit of sriracha, soy sauce, or cheese sauce on top of the freshly cooked frozen veggies for a nice pop of flavor.
Skip the steaming and roast frozen vegetables instead.
Steaming may be the quickest way to cook frozen vegetables, but roasting frozen vegetables will give them a much better flavor. Roasted veggies are tastier and have a more appetizing texture. To bake frozen vegetables, place them on a lined baking sheet and bake them at 450°F until crispy. If you don’t feel like baking them, feel free to pop them in the air fryer and air fry them at 400°F until they’re nice and crispy. Add a bit of spray oil to help them crisp up easier.
This tip doesn’t work for every frozen vegetable (i.e., spinach), but it works great for heartier veggies like cauliflower, green beans, or pumpkin.
Turn them into an omelet or frittata.
One of the easiest ways to make frozen vegetables taste good is by mixing them in with some eggs! Simply let the frozen vegetables thaw, mix them with eggs, and cook. That’s it! You get a veggie-filled omelet or frittata that pairs well with a salad or rice.
You can make a large batch and host a Sunday brunch or use the large batch to make veggie omelets for the whole week. It’s a great way to get your vegetable intake for the day and to use up all of your frozen vegetables. Almost any vegetable can work in a frittata, but spinach and mushrooms are awesome options. Experiment with your favorite frozen vegetables, and see which combination you enjoy best.
Make it cheesy.
What better way to make frozen vegetables taste better than by adding cheese? Just like how parents add cheese to frozen broccoli for little kids, that trick works just as well for adults too. Grate some of your favorite cheese on top of the freshly cooked frozen vegetables, and get lost in the gooey cheesy goodness. Parmesan cheese works great!
Take this tip a step further and roast the frozen vegetables with cheese and other ingredients to make a scrumptious casserole! It’s a great way to get a veggie-packed meal without too much effort.
Crumble some fatty meat on top.
Just like oil and butter, a bit of fatty meat can help make frozen vegetables taste so much better. Whether you want to add bacon or sausages, a little bit of meat gives the vegetables some saltiness, smokiness, and savoriness. These three flavor notes will make any frozen veggie much more palatable. This is an especially helpful tip for stubborn vegetables like frozen Brussels sprouts! Even the pickiest eaters will be asking for seconds.
Turn them into something else.
There are many ways to use frozen vegetables that you may not realize. If you have frozen kale, you can turn them into kale chips. It’s a healthy, crispy snack that makes it much easier to eat the hearty green. If you have frozen cauliflower, use it to make cauliflower pizzas or cauliflower rice. There’s no need to cook the vegetables and eat them as is. They can be used in almost any way fresh vegetables can.
Don’t keep them in the freezer for too long.
Yes, frozen vegetables are made for the freezer, but that doesn’t mean they should live there for years on end. Frozen veggies should be good to eat within about a year of buying them. After that, they are much more susceptible to getting freezer burn which will make them taste terrible!
A year is a long time to eat one bag of frozen vegetables, so make sure to use up your frozen veggies before buying a new one. The longer the vegetables stay in the freezer, the more they lose their nutrients as well, so make sure to use them.
Blend them into smoothies and drinks.
Just like fresh vegetables, frozen vegetables are a fantastic addition to smoothies and juices. You can add in any frozen vegetable you like, but frozen spinach, kale, and carrots will likely be the easiest to add to other drinks. The fruits in the smoothie will also hide the vegetables’ flavor, so you don’t have to worry about their texture or taste too much.
One benefit of using frozen vegetables rather than fresh veggies in smoothies is that frozen vegetables are cold! They can make any smoothie cold and refreshing without watering down the drink’s flavors as ice would.
Turn Them into Soup.
Vegetable soups are an awesome way to use leftover vegetables and frozen vegetables. It not only cooks the vegetables perfectly, but they soak up all the flavors of the broth. The vegetables take on a better flavor, and it’s super easy to make. All you have to do is toss some frozen vegetables, broth, and protein into a pot and boil it together. You can keep it simple or bulk it up with lentils, beans, or small pasta shells. There are so many options to try.
The next time it’s cold, use up all those vegetables hidden in your freezer. Almost any frozen vegetable could be used, but heartier veggies may work better. Some great frozen vegetables for soups are frozen peas, frozen corn, pumpkin, spinach, cauliflower, carrot, and mixed vegetables. But use whatever you like in your soup!
Skip thawing the vegetables.
This tip is probably quite surprising. Most frozen foods and meals require some time to thaw before being used, but that doesn’t quite work for frozen vegetables. Thawing frozen veggies affect them in two major ways: they lose their texture and flavor.
When vegetables are thawed, lots of liquid and water are released. This can make the vegetables soggy, and no matter how well you cook them, they will remain soggy. Unless you enjoy soggy vegetables, skip the thawing before cooking frozen vegetables.
In a similar way, thawing waters down the flavors of the vegetables. They lose much of their flavor in the thawing process, which affects the taste. It’s best to use the frozen vegetables as is without thawing. This will cut your meal preparation and cooking time down as well.