Blanching vegetables means to plunge them quickly into boiling water – for just a minute or two – then immediately stick the vegetables into a bowl of ice water (often referred to as an ice bath). If you are serving cooked vegetables cold, this technique will ensure that they will maintain their beautiful colors.
I am going to demonstrate how to do this using asparagus. The same method would work for green beans, yellow beans, broccoli, carrots, and many other vegetables as well.
Wash and trim the asparagus. (This link will also show you how to wash, trim and How to Cook Asparagus.)
I always blanch (and cook) asparagus in a frying pan. The spears fit better and they cook more evenly in a frying pan. Start by boiling a kettle of cold water and then pouring it into the frying pan.
Bring the water in the frying pan to a boil and add about one Tablespoon of salt to the water.
Using a pair of tongs, carefully add the asparagus to the pan.
Set the timer for 2 minutes. It may take a bit more or less time depending on the thickness of your asparagus. After 2 minutes, run one spear under cold water and then taste it to see if it is cooked to your liking. If you cook green vegetable too long they will turn a very “muddy’ green color (YUK!).
Have your “ice bath” (which is just a bowl of icy cold water) and a clean dish towel ready for when the timer goes off.
Using a pair of tongs, lift the asparagus out of the boiling water and put it directly into the ice bath.
This totally stops the cooking process, and the color stays that nice bright green. After a minute or two, lift the asparagus out of the icy water and onto a clean dish towel to drain.
If you are cooking more green vegetables, you can use the same boiling water that you cooked the asparagus in to cook the other vegetables.
Green beans will only take about 1 minute and 30 seconds to blanch.
For a change of pace try blanching some vegetables when you serve your next Vegetable and Dip Platter (video).
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