I’ve mentioned before that cooking isn’t exactly my favorite pastime. I cook regularly, but more often than not my mission in the kitchen is to get food on the table as simply and quickly as possible. I’m like busy and stuff, ya know?
Over the years I’ve developed several techniques to optimize my time in the kitchen, but lately I’ve come to realize that tips and tricks aren’t the only factors that determine how much work it is to get dinner on the table. It turns out the choice of vegetable, and even the varietal, can play a big role as well.
Whether I’m feeling too busy, too lazy, or a bit of both, these are my go-to veggies to save time and effort in the kitchen.
5 Ideal Vegetables For Lazy Cooks
1. Tuscan kale
Have you ever noticed that cleaning curly kale takes longer than it does to cook the stuff? What’s up with that? Also, those wily, curly leaves are more than a little difficult to wrangle on the cutting board, and the stems are so tough they need to be removed before cooking. Lame sauce.
Instead I usually opt for Tuscan (aka lacinato or dino) kale. The leaves on this variety are flatter and thinner, making them much easier to clean and cut. Although it takes an extra minute or two in the pan before the leaves are completely soft, the thinner stems can usually be left in because the extra cooking time softens them enough to eat.
Cabbage is so underrated. Sweeter and crunchier than lettuce, it tastes delicious both raw and cooked, costs next to nothing and only requires a quick rinse and removal of a few outer leaves before it’s good to go. I like to thinly slice a amount of cabbage (about 1 cup), saute it in olive oil, add a tablespoon of soy sauce, then cook with two beat eggs for a delicious, filling and healthy morning scramble. Yum!
3. Delicata squash
I love winter squash, but the most popular, butternut, requires peeling and takes a long time to cook. Delicata on the other hand is easier to carry, clean and doesn’t require peeling. It also cooks faster and tastes better. A fantastic score for lazy cooks. Here’s my favorite way to cook delicata squash.
4. Baby spinach
This one is almost too lazy even for me. Want to make a stir fry healthier? Grab a handful of baby spinach and toss it in at the end of the cooking. Want to make your quinoa salad healthier? Grab a handful of baby spinach and toss it in at the end of the cooking. Want the fastest salad ever? Grab two handfuls of baby spinach and toss with olive oil, salt and balsamic vinegar. Add bacon if you want to get fancy.
5. Bell peppers
Bell peppers take the prize for easiest to clean vegetable. After rinsing and scrubbing them off a bit with your fingers, simply cut them in half and remove the seeds and stem with your hands. You can eat them as is, break them up into a salad or even cook them until they’re charred, and they’ll taste delicious in every form. Nothing could be easier.
What are your favorite lazy man’s vegetables?
Originally published February 13, 2013.