Instant veggies

Instant veggies

Cooked veggies to the rescue!

We returned from our travels earlier this week, coming home to an empty fridge but a big jar of instant veg: the glut of tomatoes I had roasted before our departure.

They were sitting patiently in their jar, ready flavoured with garlic, herbs and olive oil, giving us a few instant meals this week:

  • instant pasta sauce (toss tomatoes with hot pasta and cheese)
  • instant shakshuka (poach eggs on a bed of tomatoes)
  • instant lentil salad (toss tomatoes with a tin of lentils)
  • instant brunch (serve with fried eggs)
  • instant snack (tomatoes on toast)


Vegetables can easily seem to be 'difficult' ingredients: 

They need prep time (scrubbing, peeling, chopping), many don't keep very well, and we often don't know how to cook them - as a result they end up an unloved after-thought, eaten out of duty, not pleasure.

But it doesn't have to be that way, if... you cook your veggies in advance!

An especially useful habit at this time of year, when veggies in the market or in the garden are becoming more abundant, even overflowing.


Tamar Adler, one of my very favourite food writers, describes this concept very convincingly in her book 'An Everlasting Meal' (which I keep re-reading):

Our desire to eat fresh vegetables has left us with an idea that vegetables are only good if they're cooked just before being eaten. But many of the best vegetable dishes are created over time. [...]
Here is what I do, and I think it works well: Each week I buy whole bunches of the leafiest, stemmiest vegetables I can find. Then I scrub off their dirt, trim off their leaves, cut off their stems, peel what needs peeling, and cook them all at once. [...]
Once greens are cooked as they should be, though: hot and lustily, with garlic, in a good amount of olive oil, they lose their moral urgency and become one of the most likable ingredients in your kitchen. [...]
By the end of the week, you will have eaten vegetables a dozen ways a dozen times, having begun with good raw materials only once.


I love the concept of instant veg - and, like Tamar, I find it works well with most veggies.

Not only do you get a bunch of tasty veggies ready to use, they also keep waaay better once cooked.

Here are more ideas for instant veg I use regularly:

  • cooked beetroot (as a side or salad, dressed with chopped garlic and balsamic vinegar, or to sweeten any dish)
  • tray-roasted veggies (roasted in olive oil and organo and cumin, as a side or piled on a plate with crumbled feta)
  • boiled potatoes (chopped or mash into anything)
  • cooked leafy greens (as a side, as a bed for something else or a green boost anywhere you like)
  • roasted broccoli or cauli (roasted hot until charred with olive oil, garlic and soy sauce)
  • fermented version: sauerkraut/kimchi (shop bought or home made), and pickles in their many variations
  • and there's a sweet version too: stewed fruit!


See the how-to cards below for roast tomatoes and cooked greens.





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