Vegetables that are quickly boiled―then shocked in ice water―are bright, fresh, and versatile.
Quick Side Dishes
Store your blanched, shocked vegetables in a Tupperware container or a resealable plastic bag for up to five days in the refrigerator. When you're ready to serve them, they need just a three-minute reheat: Place them in a skillet over medium heat with a splash of water and a pat of butter. Try this with string beans, carrots, broccoli, or asparagus.
Cauliflower is supposed to be crispy and golden on the outside and tender on the inside, but the florets are too thick to tenderize with simple sautéing. Blanching, and then shocking, ensures tenderness. For crispness, brown 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat. When the butter starts bubbling, add the shocked cauliflower. Cook until brown, about 2 minutes. This also works with broccoli when you're making a stir-fry.
The reason the crudités sit untouched on the appetizer table for so long may not be that the guests would rather be noshing on the pigs in a blanket. It's usually that half the vegetables on the plate (broccoli, cauliflower) aren't very appealing when they're uncooked. You want them to be crisp, not raw. Shocking solves that problem. Consider pairing the vegetables with a soft cheese (Robiola or Brie) and roasted almonds instead of the more conventional dip.