Shop, Shock and Roll: A Veggie Strategy

December 10, 2014

Hi, Readers! Before I launch into all things vegetable, can I share Miss M.’s new (short!) cast with you?



How excited for Christmas is Hummingbird?

Luckily, she gets the cast off the day after Christmas, so she won’t have to worry about looking outdated for more than a matter of hours. She also had to get a tooth pulled (front and center) yesterday because her adult one was coming up in back of it–again, can I say: no holiday cards this year? Jesus, we’re a mess.

The next few weeks are busy for everyone, but for some reason, it’s this week that’s jam-packed for us. That seems a little weird; you’d think next week would be the craziest, but not for us. We have choir concerts, dental/medical appointments, voice lessons, holiday parties…and a certain Miss D. has a birthday party for her big 1-3 this weekend.

Thirteen. Gah. I can’t even.

If I’m facing a freakshow week, I am very tempted to cheat by buying the frozen lasagna or relying on takeout, but if I do that, I know we’ll pay the price. We’ll start to feel heavy and sluggish, we’ll spend too much money, and I’m for danged sure going to have to end up plunging a toilet or two, and there is no way I need that on my to-do list.

Instead, I need to make a different kind of to-do list: one that allows me to shop, prepare and store things in advance, so when the inevitable wave of exhaustion and “eh, screw it!” attitude strikes, I’m ready.

Stocking up on protein is easy, and I always have boxes and bags of rice or pasta in the pantry. It may sound strange, but what typically trips me up in the meal planning department is the vegetable part of the meal. I don’t want to have broccoli for four meals straight, and salad has a short shelf life, and cooked carrots are the Devil’s instrument, and how many ways can you stretch a bag of frozen peas?

Here’s the answer. You shop, stock up, and then shock.

Yes, shock. Bear with me. I’ll explain.

In busy times, I try to only grocery shop once a week. I am lucky, because our Kroger sells already snapped thin green beans, trimmed broccoli, snap peas, even asparagus. I throw containers of those suckers into my cart, tote them home, and then prepare (essentially) my entire week’s worth of veg in one big swoop via the shocking method.

At first blush, shocking seems like a pain in the ass, but actually, it’s a pretty efficient way of getting those side veggies on the table for a week’s worth of meals.

Tools you will need:

Big-ass pot of boiling, salted water

A spider or tongs or other tool that can extract things from said boiling water

Big-ass pot of salted ice water

A strainer and a salad spinner

Large ziploc bags



You are basically “shocking” your veggies, which means that you dump them into boiling water, cook them for just a few minutes, then extract them with a strainer or spider, plop them into ice water to cool them off (plunging them in ice water protects that pretty, bright green color so don’t skip this step!), spin the blanched veggies dry in the salad spinner and then store in bags for use all week.

I typically use this method every week for green beans, snap peas, broccoli and sometimes asparagus. I do it all at once because once you get the big-ass pots of water boiling and filled with ice water, you can just plow through each vegetable one at a time, using the same water.

Once you have your veggies bagged, all you have to do at dinner time is heat some butter in a skillet, add some aromatics like garlic or shallot, add your veggies and saute for a couple of minutes, hit the saucepan with a splash of white wine or fresh lemon juice, add fresh herbs/lemon zest if you feel fancy, season it with salt and pepper and Bam! done. If I’m feeling super-fancy, I might prepare them as I did in the recipe below, adding some toasted nuts for extra oomph.

It sounds like kind of an involved process, I know! But seriously. Try this method and I think you’ll be sold. It will take about 40 minutes out of your week to blanch and shock all the veggies (if you do as many kinds per week as I do) but then, when it comes to side dish time for those dinners all week? You are golden.

Little tip about the veg: winter green beans are a little tougher than summer ones, so give them about a 5 minute bath in the veggie hot tub, then plunge. Cut the broccoli in fairly small pieces and blanch 3 minutes before sending them to the ice chamber.

Hope you readers are plugging along with all of the hustle and bustle of the season without too much stress; I know it’s madness, but when you see those smiles on the faces of those you love, don’t you always admit that it’s worth it?



Shocked, Sauteed Green Beans with Lemon and Pine Nuts

serves 2 generously (can easily be doubled or tripled)


2 cups shocked green beans

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon garlic paste or anchovy paste**

zest of one small lemon

juice of half a lemon

salt, pepper and red chile flakes to taste

2 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic/anchovy paste and stir and cook until fragrant and melted, about 2 minutes. Add green beans and saute for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Add lemon zest and lemon juice to pan; cook one minute more. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a pinch of red chile flakes. Sprinkle with pine nuts right before serving.

** Garlic paste and anchovy paste are miraculous magic flavor bombs that will make your vegetables taste delicious. You can find them in the Italian section of most grocery stores–they come in little tubes, like toothpaste. Just squeeze some into melted butter, let it toast and get all melty, and watch people wolf down their veggies with relish. Don’t fear the anchovy paste!! It isn’t fishy at all when you let it melt into butter and cook a little; all you taste is a nutty, salty yumminess. Promise! Nobody will know it’s there–they’ll just think that you are the veggie whisperer. :)

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie December 10, 2014 at 7:51 am

Genius as usual. My kids are strangely crazy about green veg and I could really use this technique to have them on hand and ready to go more often. Hope your crazy week is a little fun in spite of the chaos! Xoxo


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri December 10, 2014 at 9:07 am

Aww, look at Miss D. 13 already? She is beautiful. Glad Miss M’s cast is coming off soon.

Shocking your green beans? Always an education here, Kitch. Seriously, though, these greens look delicious.


Jane December 10, 2014 at 11:45 am

I love you! I’ve run across many a recipe for “shocking” vegetables but always became too intimidated (or lazy) to try it. But you make it sound so do-able. And anything that saves me time during the week is worth the extra effort on the weekend. (Time for me to just ditch those “Meals For A Month – Cook For A Day” cookbooks that are just collecting dust anyway. This method is actually practical and *poof* in an hour, I’m done!)


Sherri December 10, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Wow – is your girlie a beauty or what? Both so pretty, but she’s really starting to look like (and I sound like my mom here) a young lady!

Love green beans – thanks for the recipe. We’re a mess here too.


Naptimewriting December 10, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Oh, geez. Fine. I’ve been lazily feeding my family only raw veg (no joke) because I’m..that lazy.

I’ll try shocking and cooking. Just because of you.

Happy Thirteenth Mama Day, mama. Fourteenth, really, if she’s 13.
Also, she’s WHAT?


Alison December 11, 2014 at 6:18 am

This is genius!!
Also, your daughter – what a beauty!


Shannon December 11, 2014 at 6:56 am

Wow! Your 13 is gorgeous. And your green beans look really good, too.


Alexandra Rosas December 11, 2014 at 12:16 pm


Because I love recipes with BigAss in their ingredient list.

And also because I’m allergic to anchovy.



Dana Talusani December 12, 2014 at 8:36 am


No worries! Substitute garlic paste instead. They’ll still be good, even without the swimmers :)


Biz December 11, 2014 at 2:25 pm

My lips haven’t touched a vegetable in I don’t know how long – and pretty sure french fries don’t count as a veggie!

I love anchovy paste – I use it when I make my Italian Sunday gravy – it gives a whole new depth of flavor.

Thanks for being my long distance friend these last 10 days – hugs!! (and by the way, the bread that you sent – parmesan and cracked pepper? – it was gone in literally 10 minutes of me pulling it out of the oven.) :D


Dana Talusani December 12, 2014 at 8:37 am


I love that bread and knew with your love of things cheesy and spicy, it was for you! Much love!


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me December 11, 2014 at 9:56 pm

Miss D. looks absolutely lovely – happy birthday to both of you! I can’t even think about 7 or 8, never mind 13. For the love.
You know, my market sells those bags of prepared awesomeness and somehow I usually skip them. They absolutely make getting vegetables on the table easier – don’t know why I never thought about the shocking all at once thing. Genius. I am ashamed to admit I skipped vegetables on the side of the plate twice this week because I just failed to leave enough time to deal with the prep when it came to mealtime.


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes December 12, 2014 at 2:48 am

Ah good ol’ Shocker. I rely on that vegetable therapy too to get me through the looooooooooooooong drap winter and busy weeks too.
I kinda feel you on the 13. My eldest turns 6 in March. Six… *shakes head in disbelief*


Barbara December 12, 2014 at 11:05 am

I agree it’s weird, but all the social hustle and bustle for me has been last week, ending with Sunday this weekend. Then, peace. Well, until the kids come home, but no grandkids this year, only grownups, so it’ll still be comparatively quiet.
Pleased the cast is shorter and it will be off before you know it. Rehab?
I shock my veggies too, but now that I’m not cooking for family, I don’t do it in bulk. (We eat out a lot over the holidays too.)


Tiffany December 14, 2014 at 7:20 am

1.) Miss D is a stunner. 2.) I’m going to try the pastes!


Pamela December 14, 2014 at 9:53 am

Miss D. Looks stunning. I hope you survived the slumber party. Live the veggie idea!!!


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