Vegetables are staple food crops in Nigeria. Vegetables are used in cooking varieties of food, ranging from local dishes to intercontinental dishes. Vegetables add colour and flavour to foods and provide the human body with a wide variety of essential nutrients. But, a little overcooking can turn vegetable to a very distasteful food. You wouldn’t want to overcook your vegetables so, it is necessary to know the adequate time to cook specific types of vegetables.
When cooking vegetable, you should take note of the following;
- Type of vegetable
- Size of vegetables to be cooked.
Also, it is recommended to use steaming as the cooking method, this is because it preserves vitamins and minerals maximally. Steaming also retains the natural look of the vegetable.
Below is a chart of the appropriate cooking time for fresh and frozen vegetable.
|Vegetables|| Cooking time for fresh
| Cooking time for frozen
|Pumpkin leaf and other leafy vegetables||4-5||5-6|
There are few tips to cooking vegetables properly, they are;
- Cook vegetables until soft, but not too soft that they will no more feel crunchy when eaten.
- The cooking time stated on the chart is for medium amount of food. For larger amounts, please add more water and increase the time to 20-40%.
Different Methods of Cooking Vegetables
- Boiling: Heat 1inch of water in a sauce pan until it boils. Add vegetables and heat till boiling, then reduce the heat to low. Cook for the amount of time stated on the chart and drain.
- Steaming: Use a sauce pan for steaming. Add ½ inch of water to the sauce pan, then place a steamer basket in it, note that the water should not touch the bottom of the steamer. Place the vegetable in the steamer till it starts boiling, then reduce the heat to low. Steam for the amount of time stated on the chart.
- Baking: Pre heat the oven to 180°C. Place the vegetables in the oven and bake for the amount of time stated on the chart.
- Sautéing: Sauté using a skillet. Cook in butter or oil over medium heat for the amount of type stated on the chart.
- Roasting: Pre heat the oven to 425°F. Rub the vegetables in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season as desired. Place the vegetable in a baking pan and roast for the amount of time stated on the chart.
There are several reasons why you should not overcook your vegetables. These reasons are;
- Vegetables in their raw form contain lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and these nutrients are needed by the body. When you overcook your vegetables, these nutrients are depleted and lost in the cooking media.
- Overcooking vegetables can make you lose appetite for vegetables. When they are overcooked, they become soggy and less crunchy, which makes them distasteful. Crispy vegetables are more appetizing, so cook moderately to maintain the crunchiness.
- Overcooking makes vegetables to lose their visual appeal; they become mushy and lose their natural colour. Overcooked vegetables also lose their natural flavour.
Adhere to the vegetable cooking chart to ensure that your vegetables are cooked appropriately and the nutrients are available for absorption by the body.