When the cold winter days leave you longing for the farm-stand flavor of fresh vegetable, head to the freezer!
Frozen Snap Peas
Vegetables Fresh From the Freezer
Packaged at their seasonal best, frozen vegetables are a bargain this time of year. With no trimming or cleaning (and no costly waste), you can put a taste of summer on the table every night of the week. Here are a few tips and tricks we've learned.
- Before simmering frozen greens in chicken broth, sauté chopped cooked ham in a Dutch oven until lightly browned for a lean, smoky flavor. Just add the broth directly to the Dutch oven, stirring to loosen the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Combine the taste and texture of different types of frozen peas, such as butter peas, lady peas, and field peas with snaps. Cook according to package directions in chicken or vegetable broth rather than water.
- Coarsely chop partially thawed, sliced yellow squash, and use in place of fresh for a quick start on a casserole. Because most frozen vegetables are already blanched, you don't have to precook them before adding to a casserole.
- Pulse frozen white shoepeg corn in a food processor 8 to 10 times or until coarsely chopped, and use in place of grated fresh corn when making creamed corn.
Related: Winter Farmer's Market Recipes
Flash In the Pan
Pan-frying frozen vegetables, such as sugar snap peas, is a great way to retain the bright color and texture. Thaw 1 (16-oz.) package frozen vegetables just long enough to separate into pieces; sauté in 1 Tbsp. hot oil in a large skillet over medium heat 4 to 6 minutes or until crisp-tender. (They type and size of vegetables can shorten or lengthen the cooking time.) Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.
Don't be afraid to combine fresh seasonal produce with frozen. We paired the natural sweetness of grape tomatoes with frozen sugar snap peas (pictured above). Just cut the tomatoes in half, and toss in the skillet during the last 2 or 3 minutes the sugar snap peas are cooking.
Related: 20 Great Side Dishes
Ripe for the Picking
Long and slender, frozen whole green beans can easily stand in for fresh ones, even when company's coming. Quickly pan-fried with flavorful lemon-butter and toasted almonds or simmered for hours with bacon drippings and broth, they're equally delicious.
Time-saving seasoning blends, featuring frozen diced onion, bell pepper, and celery, add easy and unexpected flavor to pots of field peas and greens as well as soups, stews, and casseroles. If you hate to chop, these frozen blends come to the rescue.
Perfect for sautés and stir-fries, frozen blends of colorful red, yellow, and green bell pepper strips are especially appealing when the price of fresh goes sky-high. (Fresh bell pepper can lose up to half their weigh when seeded and cored.) Like many other vegetables, these are individually quick-frozen. Just pour out as needed, and return the remainder to the freezer.
Frozen okra delivers fresh flavor year-round. It's terrific in gumbo or coated with cornmeal while still frozen and fried.
Related: How to Freeze & Store Soup
Recipes for Frozen Vegetables
Two-Cheese Squash CasseroleTwo-Cheese Squash Casserole
4 lb. yellow squash, sliced
4 Tbsp. butter or margarine, divided
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 cups soft breadcrumbs, divided
1 1/4 cups shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup ( 4 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
Cook squash in boiling water to cover in a large skillet 8 to 10 minutes or just until tender. Drain well; gently press between paper towels.
Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in skillet over medium-high heat; add onion and garlic, and sauté 5 to 6 minutes or until tender. Remove skillet from heat; stir in squash, 1 cup breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and next 7 ingredients. Spoon into a lightly greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
Melt remaining 2 Tbsp. butter. Stir together melted butter, remaining 1 1/2 cups soft breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and garlic salt. Sprinkle mixture evenly over top of casserole. Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes.
Related: 18 Super-Easy Casseroles
Creamed CornCreamed Corn
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 1/2 cups corn kernels
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; stir in corn kernels and milk. Sprinkle with cornstarch, sugar, and salt; stir well.
Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring constantly, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve immediately.
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