How to Successfully Cook the Top 10 Most Popular Vegetables

These days, everyone knows that they should eat five portions of fruit and veggies a day, but do you?  With most supermarket’s produce sections crammed to overflowing with a dizzying array of bright, colorful vegetables, adding them to your diet should be easy.  Right?


Wrong.  A recent survey by ‘Prevention’ health magazine showed that close to 46 percent of us don’t eat all the vegetables that we should.  Everyone has their own individual reasons for skipping the natural health boost offered by vegetables, ranging from “I don’t like veggies” to “I think they’re full of nasty chemicals.”


But by far the most common reason cited was that people simply don’t know how to cook them properly.  Read on in order to fix this.  Cooking times are for boiling in plain water, unless otherwise noted.


1) How to Cook a Potato


The humble potato comes in many different varieties and colors, from Yukon Gold, to white, yellow or red, and this will affect the cooking time.  Generally speaking, the whiter the skin on a potato, the faster it cooks.  Red potatoes with their rich color take the longest to cook.  Removing the skin makes no difference to cooking time. 


However, the thing that most affects cooking time is whether they are whole or cut.  The smaller you cut the chunks, the quicker they’ll cook.  One-inch wide cubes give the most consistant cooking time at 10 minutes, no matter how many potatoes you cook at once.


Whole potatoes: 8-12 mins (small) 15-30 mins (medium)

Cut potatoes: 10-12 mins


2) How to Cook Carrots


Carrots are easy.  Similar to potatoes in cooking time, the finer you slice them, the quicker they cook.  There is no need to peel most commercially-grown carrots, but washing and scrubbing is always recommended.  Slice them at an angle for a more fancy-looking presentation.  Adding 1 teaspoonful of salt to the water when cooking makes the carrots taste sweeter.  Don’t ask us why.


Thickly sliced carrots: 10 mins

Thinly sliced carrots: 6 mins (you can also saute these if sliced thinly)


3) How to Cook Peas


Very few people buy fresh peas and shell them these days, what with frozen peas being available at less than a dollar a bag.  But if you wish to do it the old-fashioned way, here are the correct cooking times:


Fresh peas: 3 mins max (steaming makes them taste better)

Frozen peas: 4 mins (2 mins to thaw in the pan, 2 mins to heat through)


4) How to Cook Green Beans


Also called French Beans and Snap Beans, these tasty legumes are available fresh or frozen at your local supermarket.  Top and tail them before boiling as the ends don’t taste good.


Fresh green beans: 5 mins max (boil or saute)

Frozen green beans: 3-5 mins (boil or saute)


5) How to Cook Asparagus


Incredibly good for you and packed with antioxidants and protein, asparagus is sold in bunches of 20 stalks, and can in fact be eaten raw if picked young and tender enough.  Always wash it first, though!  A good tip when purchasing this seasonal vegetable is to avoid any bunches that look wrinkled or dried out with woody-looking ends, and buy a bunch with the thinnest stalks you can see – thin stalks mean the asparagus is young and tender.


Thin stalks: 2-3 mins (boil or saute)

Thick stalks 4-5 mins (boil or saute)


6) How to Cook Broccoli


This can also be eaten raw if chopped small and washed well.  To boil, chop off most of the woody stem and wash florets well before cooking.  Steaming produces a more tender floret.


Raw broccoli florets: 3-5 mins (boil, saute or steam)


 7) How to Cook Cabbage


Whether you prefer red cabbage or green cabbage, the cooking time is about the same.  To prepare, slice in half lengthwise, then cut out the white ‘core.’  Quarter the remaining pieces and break apart the leaves to separate.  Leave leaves whole or chop as finely as desired.  Cooking times are the same for red cabbage.


Cabbage (chopped: 5-8 mins)


8) How to Cook Corn on the cob


Corn ears can be bought very cheaply during summertime.  To pick a sweet fresh ear rather than a tasteless one, peel back the green husk and examine the kernels.  If there are any kernels that look dull, dry or brown, or have collapsed inwards from dehydration, the corn will taste bland.  Fresh corn has plump, shiny kernels that burst which pressed.  Yellow corn is sweeter than white corn.


Corn on the cob: 3-5 minutes max (boil completely submerged, then spread with butter)


9) How to Cook Mushrooms


Never boil mushrooms in plain water – they will become flaccid and tasteless.  The following cooking time is for mushrooms immersed in butter, sauce, broth or wine:


Mushrooms (sliced thickly): 5-6 mins (saute)

Mushrooms (sliced thinly): 4-5 mins (saute)


10) How to Cook Cauliflower

This is a similar preparation method to broccoli.  Slice in half lengthwise, cut out the hard white core, chop off the individual florets.  Make sure you salt the water well to bring out the flavor.


Cauliflower (chopped): 6-10 mins

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