Vegetables 101: How to Cook Perfect Greens

Vegetables are chock full of nutritious goodness and a must at every meal, but we all know there are few things as difficult or unpleasant to eat than soggy, overcooked and discoloured vegetables. Unfortunately, vegetables are extremely sensitive to cooking and heat - and can go from very delicious to very slimy in just under a minute.

So if you find that you've been overcooking your veg - and in the process also losing all that goodness and vitamins - here's our little cheat sheet that will hopefully guide you to crisp, vibrant and perfectly cooked greens.

To prepare broccoli florets, you can try either boiling for 10-15 minutes, steaming for 5-10 minutes, or sauteing them in a stir fry for 5-8 minutes for the perfect texture.

For sliced carrots, either boil for 5-10 minutes, steam for 4-5 minutes, or sauté for 3-4 minutes to retain colour, nutrients and crunch.

Gorgeous quartered purple eggplants need to stay purple, and for that, you might want to stick to either boiling for 5-10 minutes, steaming for 5-6 minutes, or sauteing for 3-4 minutes.

Sliced bell peppers of every traffic light hue look firm but they actually soften very fast on heat. Boil for 4-5 minutes, 2-4 minutes steamed, or sauté (the best way to preserve their sweetness) for 2-3 minutes maximum.

Spinach is notoriously difficult to cook just right and can go limp in seconds. 2-5 minutes boiled (never wait for the green to leach into the water), 5-6 minutes steamed or 3 minutes sauteed in garlic and olive oil should yield firm, delicious, iron rich veggies.

Sliced squashes on the other hand, are hard to overcook and retain their sweetness very well. 5-10 minutes in the stockpot or steamed, and 3-4 minutes in the pan should give you the perfect golden orange slices you need for your salad.

Leafy greens (kailan, bok choy, kale) can be tricky because their stems take longer to cook than their leaves. We would recommend splitting the two, and steaming the stems first for 2-3 minutes before adding the leaves and steaming for another 3 minutes.

Pumpkins that look perfect for Halloween may look appealing but they're not meant for cooking. Choose "sugar pumpkins" or "pie pumpkins" instead which are sweet with smooth textured flesh, and treat it like you would with the squashes to bring out their natural flavours.

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