Monday, March 10, 2008


assorted vegetables

For a long time, vegetables have played only a supporting role as a meal. Vegetables were eaten, not because they tasted good, but because they were good for you. Today, due to the global growing seasons and air-freight shipping, it is possible to purchase a wide variety of vegetables throughout the year. When fresh vegetables are prepared in creative, delicious ways, they are no longer stand on the sidelines but are an integral part of an enjoyable meal.


Preparation can make or break the appeal of a vegetable. This is why it is important to know how cooking affects a vegetable's quality by changing its texture, flavor, color and nutrient content.

Most raw vegetables are hard and fibrous, which makes them appropriate for dipping or salads. But if they are to accompany an entree, they need to be softened to be palatable.
Cooking softens the fiber in vegetables, making them more tender and easier to eat. The degree of tenderness is determined by how the vegetable is cut and how long it is cooked. Most vegetables are best when cooked to the crisp-tender stage.

Some vegetable flavor is lost during cooking because flavor components leach into the water and evaporate in the steam. The best way to avoid flavor loss it to cook vegetables in as little water as possible.
With some strong-flavored vegetables, such as those in the cabbage family, it is desirable to dissolve some flavor into the cooking water or steam.
Some freshly harvested vegetables, such as corn, peas, and carrots, have a high sugar content that makes them taste sweet. As they mature or sit in storage, the sugar turns to starch, causing them to lose their sweetness. For the best flavor, it is important to use fresh, seasonal vegetables.

Cooking enhances the color of some vegetables. Overcooking can turn vibrant colors into dull grays and khaki greens. Because some pigments dissolve in water, such as those in beets and red cabbage, and other break down because of heat, such as those in peas and broccoli, vegetables should be cooked as quickly as possible to retain their colors.

Vegetables are important because they supply a wide assortment of nutrients. They are major sources of vitamin A and C and are loaded with other essential vitamins and minerals. The larger the amount of water, the higher the temperature and the longer the cooking time, the more nutrients the vegetables lose.