Vegetables for Ratatouille

While there are many people who are born with a natural tendency towards cooking and can sense things about cooking without being able to explain it, most of us have to put in the hours to learn and grasp the little differences between this and that technique.

As vegetables take a great part in many recipes from salads to main courses, here are some essential things you need to know about cooking them:

First of all, what kind of cooking processes can a vegetable go through? All of them really – a vegetable can be fried, roasted, boiled, steamed, and so on. The one technique not advised to be used on vegetables is deep frying.

Steaming is the healthiest technique that can be used for cooking vegetables. It is essentially not even cooking them – just making them more compatible with a hot meal. Thus, none of the vitamins and minerals are lost, no oils are used that make the taste heavier, and none of the flavour stays in the pan. Plus, the technique is rather fast as the hot steam penetrates the tender vegetables really quickly.

One of the most often used techniques for cooking vegetables is boiling as it requires almost no skill whatsoever. In order to keep their flavour, however, it is important that you differentiate between vegetables that need to be boiled quickly and those that need to be boiled slowly. Crisp vegetables should be placed in the water once it is boiling, while root vegetables should be cooked in water that is kept below the boiling point. Add a touch of salt to the water to enhance that flavour.

Nutritionists say that two other easy and great techniques to preparing vegetables are stir-frying and sautéing, as they are both fast and preserve the vegetable’s taste and colour, but most importantly all the vitamins and minerals. Whichever one you decide to do, you will need a pan heated to a high temperature and very little oil. Stir-frying is the better technique if your vegetables are cut into larger pieces as it will allow them to cook fully. Just place them in the pan and stir continuously until they are done. Sautéing requires that you cut the vegetables into really small pieces as it is extremely fast and if they are not small enough they will not be cooked properly. Heat the pan, wait until the oil is very well heated as well and put the vegetables in. They will start to ‘jump’ which is where the name of the technique comes from (sauté is French for jump).

Roasting is a technique that not only preserves the flavour of the vegetables, but adds to it as well. Now as vegetables have sugars in their skin, it is important to pre-heat the oven to a high temperature. When you arrange the vegetables on a baking tray and place them in the hot oven, the sudden exposure to the heat will caramelize those sugars and make the vegetables crunchy and delicious.

So there you have it – all of these techniques keep the vegetables healthy and make them a great addition to your meals. Just choose the end result you want to achieve, put on the apron, and start cooking.