When cold winter days leave you longing for the farm-stand flavor of fresh vegetables, head for the freezer.

From Our Kitchen: Fresh From the Freezer
When cold winter days leave you longing for the farm-stand flavor of fresh vegetables, head for the freezer.

Recipes for Frozen Vegetables:

Vegetables Fresh From the Freezer
Packaged at their seasonal best, frozen vegetables are a bargain this time of year. With no trimming or cleaning (and no costly waste), you can put a taste of summer on the table every night of the week. Here are a few tips and tricks we've learned.

  • Before simmering frozen greens in chicken broth, sauté chopped cooked ham in a Dutch oven until lightly browned for a lean, smoky flavor. Just add the broth directly to the Dutch oven, stirring to loosen the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Combine the taste and texture of different types of frozen peas, such as butter peas, lady peas, and field peas with snaps. Cook according to package directions in chicken or vegetable broth rather than water.
  • Coarsely chop partially thawed, sliced yellow squash, and use in place of fresh for a quick start on a casserole. Because most frozen vegetables are already blanched, you don't have to precook them before adding to a casserole.
  • Pulse frozen white shoepeg corn in a food processor 8 to 10 times or until coarsely chopped, and use in place of grated fresh corn when making creamed corn.

Flash in the Pan
Pan-frying frozen vegetables, such as sugar snap peas, is a great way to retain the bright color and texture. Thaw 1 (16-ounce) package frozen vegetables just long enough to separate into pieces; sauté in 1 tablespoon hot oil in a large skillet over medium heat 4 to 6 minutes or until crisp-tender. (The type and size of vegetables can shorten or lengthen the cooking time.) Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

Don't be afraid to combine fresh seasonal produce with frozen. We paired the natural sweetness of fresh grape tomatoes with frozen sugar snap peas. Just cut the tomatoes in half, and toss in the skillet during the last 2 or 3 minutes the sugar snap peas are cooking.

Ripe for the Picking

  • Long and slender, frozen whole green beans can easily stand in for fresh ones--even when company's coming. Quickly pan-fried with flavorful lemon-butter and toasted almonds or simmered for hours with bacon drippings and broth, they're equally delicious.
  • Time-saving seasoning blends, featuring frozen diced onion, bell peppers, and celery, add easy and unexpected flavor to pots of field peas and greens as well as soups, stews, and casseroles. If you hate to chop, these frozen blends come to the rescue.
  • Perfect for sautés and stir-fries, frozen blends of colorful red, yellow, and green bell pepper strips are especially appealing when the price of fresh goes sky-high. (Fresh bell peppers can lose up to half their weight when seeded and cored.) Like many other vegetables, these are individually quick-frozen--just pour out as needed, and return the remainder to the freezer.
  • Frozen cut okra delivers fresh flavor year-round. It's terrific in gumbo or coated with cornmeal while still frozen and fried.