What a great time of year to be enjoying fresh veggies with a new seasonal crop now available in our stores. Items like sweet corn, asparagus and green beans are now in season offering excellent quality, with much better pricing than we have seen for quite some time. My family has always enjoyed eating fresh vegetables. We used to steam all the vegetables, but that was taking too long, so we started microwaving; a much faster process with the same satisfaction. Working in the produce business, we used to microwave lots of vegetables during our weekend sampling. Many could not believe it could be so simple, yet taste so good; some debate which is the best way to cook vegetables. Microwaving cooks faster and is less likely to rob some of the nutritional value that boiling or steaming can do. If you are limited for time in preparation, and looking for way to have fresh veggies on your family’s dinner plate faster, try microwaving. Here are a few of the things I do when picking out and preparing product.
When picking out asparagus, look for spears to be green all the way down. Spears with white and purple on the bottom need to be trimmed off, as that would be tough and woody, and not edible. Thickness of spear is a personal preference. Some think thinner is more tender, but if thicker is all green it can be just as tender but you just might need to cook a little longer. Thicker has a better texture and is not just limp like a noodle: personal choice. Avoid asparagus with tips that seem wet or slimy and show signs of wrinkling or dehydration.
Asparagus that comes with a rubber band is usually around a 1 lb. to 1.5 lb size. I like to just cold water rinse, pat dry, then cut about 2 inches off the bottom of the stock (more if purple or white.) Now take the rubber band off and place asparagus in glass dish or bowl. You can sprinkle lemon juice or add a little butter if you choose. I like to drizzle the top with Marzetti Roasted Garlic Italian Vinaigrette (which is carried in the produce department), then cover with a plastic wrap so it holds the steam inside. Glad Press N Seal works well for this; if you don’t seal, you will have dried out asparagus.
Varies with each microwave, but about 5 to 7 minutes per pound should be close. With microwaving, as long as it remains sealed, product actually continues to cook some even when timer stops. Check to see if tender. Thicker asparagus might need more cook time. You are looking for that bright green color. Overcooking will result in almost a brown look.
What a difference in flavor from the fresh cooked bean compared to a canned bean. My family loves green beans, so when in season at a reasonable price, we try to have them often. This is one of those items that does require a little more work, having to clip stem ends off. Find some help if you can. If you refuse to do it, you can buy the Greenline fresh green beans, which are clipped, and come in a 12 oz. microwaveable bag that you just pop in for 4 minutes. When done, I like to just sprinkle with Butter Buds; gives you the butter flavor without all the calories, sodium and fat. If I am trying to fancy things up a bit I’ll add some Craisins and Feta Greek Cheese Crumbles; adding great flavor as well as giving it a gourmet look.
Clip green bean ends and rinse. Put in a glass bowl and seal top tight with a plastic wrap, or cover to hold steam in. Some say add water, I don’t, as I think they get soggy that way.
Cook time is about 3-4 minutes per cup. Testing one will tell you if they are done. Looking for that bright green look. Overcooking will give a brown look, and be very limp.
With the seasonal swing just starting out of Florida now, then moving north to Georgia around first part of June, and being local around mid July running till freeze time, there will be plenty of fresh sweet corn to enjoy. My family really enjoys this vegetable, and we have it quite often. It is a great value when you consider what it cost to feed a family. For a couple of bucks, everyone is getting their fill, and it works great for any occasion, gathering or meal. It’s very simple and easy when microwaving. Once cooked, we will either sprinkle on butter salt, or the kids will use real butter. It’s simple and easy! When picking out corn at store, look for ears that have green husks and are not all dried out and discolored. Pull down a few leaves to see if corn looks fresh, plump and not dented, as denting would indicate age and is likely be chewy, not tender. Often there will be packaged corn on display to choose from if you don’t want to go through the process of checking each cob. Also if you check one or two cobs and they look good, it is likely the whole display might be good and you won’t have to go through every cob that you intend to buy. Many new varieties keep coming in each year, so there is a lot of sweet corn out there.
Peel and husk all leaves, as well as all the silk hair on cob. Rinse with cold water and place in a glass dish. Use a cover or wrap with a plastic wrap as they usually stick up higher than the cover would fit.
I usually cook for about 7 or 8 minutes for 4 ears in dish. Usually 5 minutes will do for 2 ears, to give you some kind of idea for less ears.
If you have not tried microwaving some of those fresh vegetables that are oh-so-good, please consider trying the way my family prepares them. Cut that cook time way down compared to steaming, resulting in the same great flavor. Enjoy!
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