Steeping a fresh vegetable in tangy marinade adds lots of flavor to a meal without requiring much extra work. This technique is hard to mess up, even for a beginner chef, and works on nearly all the veggies stocked in your store’s produce section. Marinating does require some advance planning. The longer your vegetables sit in the liquid, the stronger their flavor will be.
Veggies to Use
Nearly any vegetable will hold up to marinating. While veggies that are edible raw, like grape tomatoes and bell peppers, can be marinated and eaten raw, most marinade recipes call for the vegetables to be cooked after being marinated. Lettuce and other greens will become limp and soggy in marinade. Sturdier choices like eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, squash and broccoli can soak for hours in marinade without falling apart, making them ideal for this method.
Marinades to Try
A marinade is simply a mixture of oil and acid, to which herbs and other flavorings are typically added. Use your favorite bottled Italian salad dressing as an easy marinade, or create your own. Most recipes call for a ratio of about 1 part acid to 2 parts olive oil. Lemon juice, wine, soy sauce or a vinegar, such as balsamic or rice wine, are all popular acids for making marinade. Try combining a few types of acid to create layered flavors. Add chopped garlic and fresh or dried herbs, like thyme, oregano or basil. Experiment with adding honey, grated ginger or seasonings such as cumin or chili powder too.
Before marinating your vegetables, thoroughly wash them and cut them into bite-size strips or chunks. Place the prepared veggies in a large bowl and drizzle your marinade over them. Use a wooden spoon to gently stir the mixture. It’s not necessary to make enough marinade to submerge vegetables. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator for at little as 30 minutes or as long as overnight. Stir the mixture a few times while it steeps to ensure all pieces are well coated. When the vegetables are ready, discard any extra marinade. Bacteria can grow in marinade, so it shouldn't be reused.
Boiling will wash away much of the marinade’s flavor, but any type of dry heat is suitable for cooking marinated vegetables. Grilling is an especially tasty way to prepare these vegetables. The marinade that clings to the veggies will char and crisp on the grill. Skewer the pieces first or transfer them to a grilling basket. Before baking, sautéing or grilling wet veggies, oil the grates or pan you’re using to prevent sticking. Add the marinated vegetables to a crudite platter, pasta dish or green salad. The next day, add leftovers to omelets and make pressed vegetable sandwiches.
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