Holiday Vegetables 101
Thanksgiving isn’t complete without the right side dishes. But what’s the secret to the perfect green bean casserole? And is there a way to make a memorable cranberry sauce? Whether you’re looking for interesting ways to dress up roasted carrots or want to make Brussels sprouts that everyone will really love (yes, love), we have all the recipes, tips, and techniques.
Cutting Up Broccoli
Hold the broccoli upside down on a cutting board. Trim the florets from the stalk, separating the larger florets into 1-inch pieces, if necessary.
Trim the top and bottom from the stalk. Cut away 1/8 inch of the tough outer peel.
Cut the stalk in half lengthwise and then into 1/2-inch pieces.
Cutting Carrots on the Bias
Cut the carrots on the bias into pieces that are 1/4 inch thick and 2 inches long.
Peeling and Cutting Butternut Squash
1. After cutting straight across the top and bottom of the squash, use a sharp vegetable peeler to remove the peel.
2. To cut through the tough squash safely, gently tap on the back of a chef's knife or cleaver using a rubber mallet.
For many of our green bean recipes, we recommend blanching the beans by dunking them in boiling water and then shocking them in a bowl of ice water to set their color and preserve their crisp texture. To avoid having to fish the vegetables out of icy water, we place a fine-mesh strainer in a bowl filled with ice water and dump the hot vegetables into it. When the veggies are cool, the strainer can be lifted out, leaving the ice behind.
While testing our recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, we noticed that, in addition to whole squash, there were two other options in the produce department: precut chunks of peeled butternut squash and peeled, halved butternut squash. Though both options promised to streamline the prep time, we were concerned that what we saved in time would be offset by dry texture and stale flavor. After trying the squash chunks and halved squash in our soup, we weren’t surprised that tasters preferred the “creamy” texture and “earthy sweetness” of the soup made with fresh, whole squash that you peel and cube yourself. Still, tasters found the peeled, halved squash to be an acceptable substitute in the soup, lauding it as “balanced and nutty” though “not as squashy” as the whole squash. The precut chunks, however, were “dry and stringy” with “barely any squash flavor.”
PEELED AND CHOPPED
Dry and flavorless.
PEELED AND HALVED
Acceptable in a pinch.
Trimming Green Beans Quickly
Line up several green beans in a row on a cutting board. Trim about 1/2 inch from each end, then cut the beans as directed in your favorite green bean recipes.