Last week we focused on kitchen tools for improving efficiency in the kitchen [ Fridge to Fork: Part One – Tools ]. Now, let’s talk about some quick-cooking methods that get meals on the table faster, while still keeping them healthy and nutritious.
A pre-heated oven can be a cooks best friend – that and parchment paper! For proteins, like salmon or chicken, line a baking sheet with foil then layer with parchment paper – this makes clean up a cinch and your food won’t stick. Sheet pan dinners appear on our meal plans every week because they are quick and tasty and there is only one pan to rinse when dinner is done. Try roasting a few trays of vegetables at the beginning of the week – they can turn a hum-drum lunch salad into a lunch bowl. Also consider roasting whole vegetables, like spaghetti squash and eggplant, for a pasta alternative and savory dip respectively. We love this tangy, herby sheet pan recipe for Lemon Garlic Roasted Vegetables .
It’s that time of year when we replace the grates on our grills in anticipation of outdoor cooking and dining. Grilling outdoors has many benefits – quick clean up and fast cooking to name a few. To grill animal proteins safely, cook over medium heat and remove just before grill marks appear then finish in the oven. This method avoids the creation of HCA’s [ heterocyclic amines ], known carcinogens, that form when muscle meat is exposed to high heat. You will still get the smokey flavor of the grill without the health risk. You could also use the same technique we mentioned for roasting – this is particularly nice when grilling fish or vegetables. Take a piece of foil and line it with parchment paper, add your fish or vegetables [or both], and create a pocket to place on the grill for cooking. Try our Grilled Artichokes as a light side dish or appetizer.
Nothing saves time in the kitchen like this method of “cooking”. Soaking foods, like oatmeal, chia seed, and buckwheat, is a great way to turn the heat down in the kitchen. Prepare our signature Banana Walnut Chia Pudding, place in individual small mason jars, and top with fresh fruit for a healthy breakfast on-the-go. You can also soak just about any seed and, using a sprouting jar, grow your own sprouts. Take a look at how you can soak and sprout quinoa to consume it raw in salads: How to Sprout Quinoa
Nothing shortens fridge-to-fork time like starting a recipe with pre-steamed vegetables. Place a steamer rack in a large sauce pot with about two inches of simmering water and steam cut vegetables in batches. For green vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, and green beans, steam until they turn bright green then immediately rinse in ice cold water. Other vegetables, like sweet potatoes and cauliflower, steam until you can insert a knife with some resistance. Not overcooking your vegetables allows you to enjoy them for up to 4 days stored and covered in the refrigerator. Living Plate staff favorite Broccoli Currant Salad is a perfect use for pre-steamed broccoli.