Frozen vegetable recipes to reach your five-plus-a-day
Unless you're blessed with extreme wealth, or exist on a diet of takeaway pizzas, it won't have escaped your notice that vegetables are becoming more expensive. If current climactic conditions continue, an on-trend cauliflower steak will soon cost as much as a small slab of marbled Wagyu beef.
Humble frozen vegetables – found somewhere between icecream and oven chips in the freezer section at the supermarket – aren't the most glamorous thing you'll buy but they score highly for convenience, value and (surprisingly) nutrition.
Some studies have found that if they are handled correctly and snap-frozen as soon as they're picked, frozen vegetables retain all the vitamins and minerals of their fresh cousins. So if you're struggling to eat your five-plus-a-day this winter, the freezer aisle and these recipes might be just what you need.
LEEK, CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI SOUP
Makes about 1.25 litres
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
This soup ticks all the boxes – it's fast, fresh and good for you. Substitute a large onion for the leek if you need to, along with any other greens in the fridge or garden.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, white part only, finely sliced and washed
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
650g frozen broccoli and cauliflower florets (I used Pam's brand)
3 cups best quality chicken or vegetable stock
2 handfuls fresh parsley (reserve a few stems for garnishing)
Set a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the oil, followed by the leek, garlic and a generous pinch of salt. Saute for five minutes, until the leek is soft but not coloured. Add the broccoli and cauliflower. Stir well and cook for three minutes, then pour in the stock. Cover and bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently for about five minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add most of the parsley and remove from the heat.
Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor (you may have to do this in batches) and whiz until smooth. Alternatively, use a stick blender to puree the soup in the pot. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning – if you have used commercially made stock it may not need any salt. Reheat until the soup reaches simmering point, then garnish with the reserved parsley and serve immediately.
STIR-FRIED BEANS WITH SOY AND DRIED SHRIMP
Serves 4 as a side dish
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes
This is my attempt at recreating some amazing beans I ate as part of a dumpling feast in Brisbane recently. Look for dried shrimps in the international section of the supermarket, or hunt them out at your local Asian grocer. They bring a lip-smacking umami-ness to the beans without being overly fishy.
2 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons dried shrimps
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon olive oil
450g frozen whole green beans (I used Watties' Whole Baby Beans)
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
Put the soy sauce, shrimps and water in a small bowl. Stir well and set aside.
Set a large, heavy frying pan or wok over high heat. Add the oil, followed by the beans, ginger and garlic. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, until the beans are nearly cooked through. Pour over the soy and shrimp mixture and toss the beans to coat. Stir-fry for another minute or two, until the beans are just cooked. Transfer to a warmed dish and serve immediately.
CORN, CHIPOTLE AND CHEESE FRITTERS
Makes about 14-16 fritters, serves 3-4 as a light meal
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
These are no ordinary corn fritters – they've got a smoky, spicy kick and little nuggets of salty cheese to perk things up. Any leftovers reheat well the next day. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are found near the other Mexican goods (tortillas, tacos) in the supermarket. Use one if you prefer a milder hint of spice.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cups frozen sweetcorn
½ cup milk
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped
¾ cup plain flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
100g cheddar cheese, cut into tiny dice
Set a large, heavy frying pan over medium heat. Add the oil, followed by the onion. Saute for five minutes, until the onion is just starting to colour. Add the corn and cook for another two minutes, until the corn is just cooked. Remove from the heat.
Whisk the eggs, milk and chipotle peppers together. Sift over the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Fold in the cheese, followed by the onion and corn mixture, Season well with salt and pepper.
Wipe out the pan you used earlier and set it over medium heat. Oil the pan well – use butter, oil, or a mixture of the two. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes (until bubbles pop on the top side of the fritters), then gently flip over to cook the other side. Remove to a warmed plate covered with a clean tea towel. Repeat until all the mixture is used up. Serve with your favourite salsa and a dollop of sour cream on the side.