Give frozen vegetables a special moment.
I live in Seattle, where spring almost never comes early, whether the world’s only famous groundhog predicts it or not. The longer winter drags on, the more leisurely stews and roasts that I once found pleasant suddenly seem too rich and heavy. I not only wish for spring, but also for the abundance that it brings – tender asparagus, ruby red strawberries and sweet peas. But as root vegetable season drags on, I’ll be reaching for frozen peas instead.
Frozen vegetables have a bad reputation. They can be mushy once unfrozen because the freezing process loses any firmness associated with fresh produce. But frozen veggies can sometimes rival their fresh counterparts — at least in terms of taste. Most vegetables in the freezer section have been picked at best before being blanched and snap frozen to preserve colour, flavor and nutrients. Add frozen products in hot The best ways to use them in dishes are with peas and carrots in fried rice, spinach or broccoli in quiches, and corn in soups (I also like to add it to rajas con crema). But what if frozen veggies could be the star?
When it is made into a kind of pesto, the consistency of the vegetable, once frozen, no longer matters. Blanch them, then place them in a food processor with the cheese, nuts, garlic, and olive oil. The result is a delicious pasta sauce. No, it’s not nearly the same as a sweet summer basil pesto, but it tastes just as good, especially when waiting for warmer weather.
Frozen pea pesto is sweet, fresh, and incredibly green. Corn pesto may not look as vibrant, but it’s surprisingly delicious — it’s no surprise that corn pairs well with cheese and garlic. Broccoli is no stranger to the pasta world, but using frozen broccoli that has been blanched beforehand will ensure your sauce retains its bright hue. And since every ingredient in this pesto has a long shelf life in the freezer, refrigerator, or pantry, you can have it even when you’re in dire need of a grocery spree.
Generous seasoning is key: Vegetables don’t have the same impact as fresh herbs, particularly mild and sweet peas and corn, so don’t skimp on the garlic, cheese, and salt. Likewise, the addition of roasted nuts provides much-needed depth and a subtle earthiness. You don’t necessarily have to skip pine nuts, though — walnuts work just as well. The pesto should taste a little salty on its own, then the sauce really shines when you add the pasta.
Yes, you can also make any of these “pestos” using fresh produce, and you should too when the season arrives! In the meantime, you can appreciate the convenience of using frozen veggies — just pop a bag of peas in boiling water for a minute, drain, and toss in the food processor. So next time you’re humming “In the Bleak Midwinter,” consider a bowl of pasta with bright green pea pesto. And try not to be so strict with frozen veggies. Appreciate them for what they are: healthy, versatile and practical. . . and occasionally downright delicious.