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In a pickle: What to do with overcooked veggies

It can be hard to tell when vegetables are fully cooked. If you overcook them — as we all have or will at least once in our lives — don’t throw them out! Instead, learn what you can do with overcooked veggies.

Broccoli au gratin

There are many different ways to cook vegetables. You can grill, steam, boil, bake, fry, roast or even microwave them. All of these methods produce delicious, crisp veggies — unless, of course, you overcook them. Overcooking veggies is more common than you think, since you can’t quite tell for sure when they’re done. Let’s get a lesson in veggies — including what to do with the ones you overcooked!

Veggie cooking 101

It doesn’t necessarily matter how you cook your veggies (with the exception of deep-frying), as long as you’re eating them! Boiling them is one of the most common ways, but you have to be careful because if you overcook them you lose a lot of nutrients in the water. Steaming is a great way to cook your veggies since there’s no chance of losing any nutrients, plus it’s fast and convenient. If flavor is what you’re after, saute them in a little bit of olive oil. This method is perfect for crispy, nutritious, full-flavored veggies that you can eat plain or season with your favorite seasoning blend.

Did you know? The best way to cook veggies is actually to microwave them! Since little water is used, they won’t lose any nutrients, and it’s almost impossible to burn them.

How to tell if veggies are done

Unlike meat, where the middle is no longer pink, veggies don’t change color when done. Setting a timer is always recommended, but depending on the thickness of your veggies, they may need more or less time. A good rule of thumb for knowing when they’re done is poking them with a fork. If the fork goes in easily and the veggie almost falls off, they’re done. If you need to force the fork in, give them more time. Check every 1-2 minutes once they’re close to being done.

What to do with overcooked veggies

Since it can be tough to tell when veggies are done, it’s pretty easy to overcook them. You get an unexpected phone call or the baby starts crying, and the next thing you know your veggies have turned to mush. Instead of throwing them out, try these tips:

  • Immediately put the veggies in ice water. This stops the cooking process and firms them back up a bit.
  • Make soup. Since soup is made of overcooked veggies, don’t hesitate to change dinner up a bit by turning your vegetables into a delicious, homemade vegetable soup.
  • Make a warm salad. Place the veggies in a bowl and cover with your favorite vinaigrette.
  • Make baby food. If you have a little one, puree the veggies in a blender, place in plastic containers and freeze. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
  • Cut into tiny pieces and add to rice. Since the vegetables will be cut up in small pieces, you won’t be able to taste that they’re burned. If you burned spicy veggies — like peppers, onions and jalapeños — make Mexican rice!
  • Go au gratin if you overcooked potatoes or broccoli. Add cheese, heavy whipping cream and garlic (recipe here).

Tell us

Have you ever overcooked veggies? What did you do with them? Share in the comments below!

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