Every weeknight, 6 p.m. rolls around, and across America, we scramble to find something to feed our families. Our end-of-day creativity is sapped, and we turn to our core repertoire of recipes that we make over and over.
And this isn’t a bad thing. Having a handful of go-to dishes we can execute without having to crack a cookbook is a smart way to get a healthy dinner on the table. If those recipes are plug-and-play techniques, or blueprints, then all the better.
With a blueprint, one "recipe" becomes hundreds of possibilities, which makes your pantry seem robust, and your menu repertoire expansive.
Today’s recipe is really a blueprint for sauteing vegetables. I’ll skip the lecture about how healthy vegetables are and jump straight into the nuts and bolts of my Weekday Sauteed Broccoli.
I’m using broccoli, but you could easily substitute cauliflower, carrots or asparagus. The time-saving strategy is to blanch — boil very briefly — the veggies before sauteing. You can do this several days in advance, blanching a week’s worth of chopped veggies ahead of time and just sauteeing them in minutes before dinner. Even if you blanch and saute the same night, the whole process will take less than 10 minutes.
Boil the veggies in salted water for just a minute or so, depending on the vegetable and texture preferences, and then use a slotted spoon to place the cut veggies in a bowl of water chilled with a few ice cubes. (Truth be told, you can skip the ice bath in a pinch, but it does firm up the veggies nicely and control the cooking.) Now the veggies are ready for a quick, flavorful saute.
Combine a tablespoon of olive oil or butter with your favorite spices and aromatics, saute with the parcooked veggies in a hot pan and serve. I took inspiration from one of my favorite pasta dishes with garlic, anchovy, dried red pepper flakes and lemon zest, but use whatever flavors you love. Once you master the basic technique, get creative, swapping out vegetables and flavor profiles to perk up your weeknight veggie game.