Credit: Hector Sanchez

Shocking, or refreshing, refers to the technique of plunging just blanched vegetables into ice water to halt the cooking. (They’ll keep cooking if you simply take them off the heat.) It locks in flavor, texture, and color, and you don’t have to worry about undercooking or overcooking. It’s especially helpful when you’re entertaining―you can do the work hours in advance and reheat just before serving.

Step 1: Prepare an ice bath. Fill a mixing bowl halfway with ice and enough water to cover it. Add about 1/2 tablespoon of salt for each quart of water (so you won’t wash away the salt absorbed during blanching).

Step 2: Blanch. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook your vegetables to the desired tenderness.

Step 3: Shock. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables from the pot to the ice bath. Remove when they’re cold, in about 1 minute.