March 14, 2010

Sunday Sides and Suppers: Vegetable Broth

Today's post really isn't so much a recipe as it is a general guide. Vegetable broth is extremely easy to make, and there are several reasons to do so.

1. It helps get the most mileage out of vegetables.

Instead of tossing out the scraps you trim from veggies when preparing them, put them into a freezer bag and freeze them until you have a gallon sized bag stuffed with leftover vegetable scraps. Any vegetables will do. We usually end up with celery leaves and ends, bell pepper centers and veins, onion and carrot ends, odd chunks of potato, and broccoli stems just because those are the vegetables we eat most often.

2. It can add a lot of flavor to you dishes without adding fat.

You can replace or cut chicken broth by half in recipes that call for it to cut calories while retaining taste and maintaining texture. Remember the spaghetti dish in Wordless Wednesday a couple weeks back? I made a thickening agent with a tablespoon or so of extra virgin olive oil and flour, and used that to reduce a pint of vegetable broth with garlic, basil, oregano, and rosemary to make a flavorful and lean sauce. It works well in risottos, beans, soups, and dips too.

3. Add a nutritional punch to starchy vegetables.

Nutritionists and cooks on talk shows are always talking about how the vitamins leech out of vegetables when you boil them. This is a big advantage of making vegetable broth. Cook rice in it or cut the amount of cream in mashed potatoes in half with the broth to lower fat, keep taste, and add vitamins and minerals.

So, how do you make vegetable broth? Save up those cutting board scraps until you have a full gallon sized bag. Fill a large pot with the vegetables and water and let them simmer for two or three hours on medium high heat. Toss in some herbs if you like, but it's not necessary. Then simply strain, bag, and freeze.

I like using pint freezer bags just because it's a good size to use for our family.

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