Frozen vegetables are a busy chef’s secret weapon. That said, it’s important to use them wisely and remember this mantra: Do. Not. Overcook.
Flash-chilled veggies are delicious when heated gently and mixed into other things, but because of their texture, frozen vegetables don’t always work as stand-alone side dishes. But these four simple recipes, all of which star the bagged produce from your freezer, prove that easy and fabulous don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Empty a bag of frozen cubed butternut squash into a medium bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and half a teaspoon of cinnamon. Add salt (to taste) and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
3. Roast squash on baking sheet for about 45 minutes, until edges are slightly brown and you can pierce it easily with a fork. Flip pieces over and rotate the pan about halfway through cooking.
Makes 3 to 4 servings.
1. Empty a bag of frozen peas into a microwave-safe bowl. Add a few tablespoons of water and cook in the microwave until heated through.
2. Stir in a handful of halved cherry tomatoes and three chopped scallions. Season to taste with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Makes 2 servings.
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and butter a 1-quart baking dish.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together 5 cups of thawed frozen corn, 2 eggs, 1 cup of heavy cream, a half-cup of shredded cheddar cheese and a pinch of chili powder. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Pour corn mixture into prepared dish and bake for 30 minutes. Serve on its own as a side, or with vegetable crudité for dipping.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Sauté a package of thawed frozen spinach in olive oil for three to four minutes over medium heat, until liquid mostly evaporates. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
3. Roll out a can of store-bought refrigerated pizza dough on a lightly floured surface. Add cooked spinach and 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, slice and serve with marinara sauce for dipping.
Makes 4 servings.