Winter Meals with Frozen Vegetables

I haven’t been posting as much lately about eating local, but I’m still very focused on getting the bulk of my meals from local food sources, year-round. In winter, the fresh vegetables and farmers market offerings dwindle, but frozen and canned veggies can step in to make up for it. I don’t have a huge amount of freezer or storage space, so I buy them as needed from a couple of local producers: Stahlbush Island Farms and Truitt Bros., through New Seasons.

I made a couple of meals recently using frozen broccoli and cauliflower that I thought were worth sharing.

Ravioli with Cauliflower, Raisins, and Hazelnuts

First up, ravioli with cauliflower, hazelnuts, and raisins.

You’ll need:
* cheese ravioli (either from your favorite recipe or a prepared package)
* frozen cauliflower
* hazelnuts (I use Freddy Guys)
* raisins (if you want them plump, pre-soak in water or broth)
* butter
* salt and pepper
* grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the ravioli according to recipe or package instructions, drain, and set aside.

Melt a few tablespoons of butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the frozen cauliflower (a cup or two depending on how many servings of ravioli you’re making) and defrost and cook in the butter. When the cauliflower is cooked, add a handful of raisins and hazelnuts, and finally the ravioli to rewarm, and you’re ready to go. Dish onto plates, salt and pepper to taste, and top with the Parmesan.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

For the broccoli cheddar soup, the ingredients are:

* butter, 4 tbsp.
* a medium-sized shallot, chopped
* flour, 4 tbsp.
* broth, about 2 cups (I used a combination of mushroom and chicken, but a vegetable broth would work too)
* frozen broccoli (maybe a cup? I have to admit, I don’t measure this sort of thing, I just eyeball it)
* cream or milk (just a splash, if you have it)
* cheddar cheese
* salt, pepper
* dill (chopped if it’s fresh)

Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat. When it’s melted, add the shallot, and saute until translucent. Slowly add the flour, stirring as you go, until it forms a paste. Then pour in small amounts of broth, bringing the consistency to sort of a gravy, thinning it gradually until the full amount has been added (doing it this way prevents lumps). When the broth is heated, add the broccoli and cook. (At this point, we pulled the cooked broccoli out and chopped it into smaller pieces, but those of you with microwaves could use that to defrost it first and save the mess).

Once the broccoli is cooked and the soup is thickening, it’s time to add a splash of cream (or milk), grated cheddar (I grate it directly into the soup, stirring occasionally to see if it looks cheddary enough yet), then salt, pepper, and dill to finish. This is good with biscuits or slices of baguette.

These two recipes highlight the main way I work with frozen veggies: by putting them directly into a soup or sauce. It’s very convenient, and if the pieces are too big (as with the broccoli) I can pull them out once cooked, chop, and add back to the dish. Frozen peas are perfect this way, since they’re small and cook fast (one of my favorites is mac & cheese & peas, with the peas cooked in the cheese sauce). It’s a little more exciting than just steaming them, and helps hide any loss of flavor from the freezer.

One response to “Winter Meals with Frozen Vegetables

  1. This sounds really good! I just got some organic pepper and Himalayan sea salt from Sustainable Sourcing https://secure.sustainablesourcing.com and I think I’ll try them both out in this recipe. Thanks for sharing!