5 Ideal Vegetables For Lazy Cooks

by | Feb 5, 2014

Baby savoy cabbages

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

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.

2. Cabbage

Pretty Cabbages

Pretty Cabbages

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

Delicata Squash

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

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

Sweet Peppers

Sweet 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.

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26 Responses to “5 Ideal Vegetables For Lazy Cooks”

  1. Shirls says:

    Oh yes I agree about the baby spinach. I also like baby cabbage (quartered and steamed), baby marrows halved and grilled, and steamed green beans tossed in a little basil pesto. I just wish I liked carrots, but I really, really don’t.

  2. Pam says:

    Broccoli! It seems easiest of all, to me! Rinse, cut into steamer, steam, dollop of ghee, and shake of herb, done!

  3. Dee says:

    Easy vegs are those that can be eaten raw or shredded and sliced in a food processor or puréed, tomato, lettuce, carrots, cauliflower come to mind…. Not bell peppers, I find them too much work….agree on cabbage and baby spinach….

  4. Carson says:

    Anything I can roast! Carrots, brussel sprouts, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, squash… just rinse, chop into bite-sized pieces, spray with olive oil, and roast for 25min while I do other things.

  5. Oh, your cabbage breakfast scramble sounds like a brilliant idea – fast enough for weekdays. I am on the lookout for more veggie-focused breakfasts. I love spinach and, like you, I think it belongs thrown in anywhere. My current favourite easy veg is courgettes – I like them raw or cooked. I got a julienne peeler recently (fancy present) and now I make courgette noodles to go under my chilli, warm salads, and pasta sauces. And I throw thin slices into any cooked veg dish.

  6. Eli says:

    Darya: Have you heard of Chaga Mushroom? It is one of the most medicinal, anti-oxidant rich foods and makes a wonderful tea. It grows in abundance here in Canada on Birch Trees. I’d love to send you some (free-of-charge). Do some research and if you’re interested I’ll even pay the nominal shipping charges.

  7. Tora says:

    I’m with Pam on broccoli. I get withdrawal symptoms if I haven’t had broccoli for 2 days. And sooo easy to prepare!

    • Darya Pino says:

      For some reason, no matter which farm I buy from my broccoli always seems to be infested with little insects, making it a total pain to clean. I still love it and do it anyway, but it isn’t always easy for me 🙁

      • Tora says:

        I don’t think I’ve ever seen insects in my broccoli, but I have found the most amazing stall at our local Farmers Market where broccoli is their forte. When I have to go to any other stall (or even the dreaded supermarket!), still no insects but very bland…I can see why some people think broccoli=boring!

      • Pam says:

        I have seen those dreaded insects packed into my broccoli from time to time, but not usually, fortunately. Gross!

      • Zephyr says:

        Those are Mother Nature’s additives.

  8. Ghazaleh says:

    I like arugula and basil… not necessarily to cook but even to add to a dish fresh. Both add a lot of flavor!

  9. Kate says:

    In season, small cherry or grape tomatoes. A quick clean and that’s it, no slicing or peeling necessary. You can of course throw them into a salad, but I also put them into pasta, soup, risotto, rice & beans.

    They also make a surprisingly delicious and super easy side dish. I saute them in olive oil until they start to pop and turn gold. Add a touch of salt, and if you’re feeling fancy, garnish with fresh parsley. I like this dish because it takes maybe five minutes, has a nice texture, tastes surprisingly wonderful, and adds a nice pop of color if your meal is suffering from the brown/tan/greens.

  10. Pam says:

    I’ve never found insects in my broccoli and buy it from farmers’ markets and WF.
    Winter squash is the easiest! Don’t peel, wash off, cut in half, scoop out seeds, put in oven. Too long to cook? Cut in smaller pieces. Yum.

    P.S. It’s ‘beaten’ eggs, not “beat” eggs.

    Thank you.

  11. Yup! Those 5 and add broccoli and zucchini. Not seen the bugs in broccoli, but hanging out in the crevices of Tuscan Kale on occasion.

  12. Leah says:

    Frozen green peas (saute with marjoram – add to pasta), fresh collards, red or blue kale (even easier than black kale to prepare). I boil greens and prepare them with olive oil and fresh lemon juice. I love roasted carrots, beets, sweet potatoes. Martha Rose Schulman’s roasted carrot recipe in the NYTimes is so good — carrots roasted with fresh thyme and then add crushed roasted hazelnuts (but you can easily skip the nuts). Salads – add boiled egg, avocado, or olives, or goat cheese, or grains like farro. Easy cooking rocks. I never tire of it. The cafeteria at my work place is trying to promote healthier eating and eliminated all fried food, but that place can sure ruin a vegetable. It’s still best to bring from home and I get to eat organic that way.

  13. Brianna says:

    Are you still able to find delicata squash at your farmers markets? I have been searching for months for it, dying to try your recipe but have had no luck anywhere! Tons of zucchini, summer squash, butternut and acorn but no delicata. 🙁

  14. CreLa says:

    Sweet potatoes are my favorite lazy vegetable at work. I pop one in the microwave (with wet paper towel over it) for 4-5 minutes, and I have a really filling, hearty snack. I keep an entire bag in my desk drawer for when I’m there late and need something to last me until dinner.

  15. Allie says:

    Peeling butternut squash is no problem if you bake (roast) the squash. I just cut the squash in half, place cut-side-down on a baking sheet, roast until it’s soft. Let it cool, flip it over and scoop out the seeds, then the “meat” to be eaten or turned into soup or pie. Toss the remaining scooped-out peel into the compost.

  16. Sarah O. says:

    I love green beans. They are good raw and dipped in hummus or sauteed.

    Also, if I ever found bugs in my broccoli I would have to move to another planet. It’s silly, I know, but… that is a hard nope.

  17. George says:

    Great info in this post! I guess I’m blessed, I enjoy making healthy meals. I enjoy seeing the different flavors that the Earth comes up with.

    I like to bake my kale leaves in the oven with olive oil and salt and it makes awesome kale chips! Whole process. takes less time than it does to pre-heat the oven. Great way to have a crunchy snack AND get your veggies

  18. Judy H says:

    I don’t peel my butternut squash. I wash it very well, cut it in half, remove seeds, and then cut in bite sized pieces. Put in bowl and pour a little bit of olive oil with salt and pepper. Coat pieces well. Onto a cookie sheet and into a preheated 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Check it around this time to see if it is lightly browned and tender. The skin is very tender at the end and easy to eat. I also combine butternut with other roasted veggies…brussel sprouts, onions, carrots, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, etc, (anything I have on hand). I prefer my vegetables a little darker brown. Also I peel raw beets, cut into bite sized pieces, EVOO, S&P (same as other vegetables but I cook them separately.) I cook these a little longer until they are more or less carmalized. Seems to give me the texture and charring that I like. Talk about sweet!!! I even like these cold. Yummy. I prefer to roast my vegetables in a hotter oven than most recipes call for. Just watch closely for your desired color! Enjoy!

  19. Reba G says:

    This post is funny because I too have what I call my “lazy” vegetables. I try to eat veggies as much as possible but when I’m not inspired to make a delicious veggie dish I always turn to my lazies.
    Broccoli and brussel sprouts, I am so lazy with these sometimes that I don’t even rinse them. I prepare a small pot of boiling water, throw them in for a hearty “rinse” and par boil at the same time. Just leave them in for one or two minutes, it enhances the natural flavors and doesn’t over cook the veggies. Then I dump them in a colander, sometimes I rinse with cold, sometimes I eat them warm right out of the colander. Either way I am getting them into my body and they are always naturally delicious.

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