Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Learn With Me: How To Have A Puree Party!

Welcome to Learn With Me, a NEW segment where I will share tips and things I'm learning in the kitchen.  Often I will give step by step instructions on how I do something or achieve an end result. 

For this first post, I will talk about how I puree vegetables.  I've been asked by several of my cookbook readers how I go about doing this.  The answer is simple.  Every few weeks or months, I throw myself a little Puree Party. 

There are only three, simple steps to having a puree party:
(1) Rinse and steam your vegetables.
(2) Grind your veggies in a food processor.
(3) Portion out the veggies in freezer-safe plastic bags and store for later.

You can do all the above things in a reasonable amount of time while listening to the radio and while your kids are playing or watching television.

My puree parties occur every few weeks or months, depending on how much I do at one time.  The most recent one I've done included one head of broccoli, one head of cauliflower and a bag of baby carrots:

Different vegetables require different lengths of time for steaming.   Here is a handy online chart I found that lists the varying times to boil veggies:

Vegetable                           Steam Time

Artichoke                             40 minutes
Asparagus                           3 to 4 minutes
Beets                                   3 to 35 minutes
Broccoli, florets                   4 to 5 minutes
Brussels sprouts                  7 to 11 minutes
Cabbage                               6 minutes
Carrots, cut ¼ inch               6 to 8 minutes
Cauliflower, florets              4 to 6 minutes
Potatoes, two inch               12 to 15 minutes
Spinach                                 4 to 5 minutes
Sweet potatoes, 1 in            12 to 15 minutes
Winter squash, two in          15 to 20 minutes
Zucchini                                            5 to 7 minutes  

I will often steam three different vegetables at one time.  I like to be productive!  I will cook two on the stove and and one in the microwave. 

Typically I will put the carrots in the microwave while I prepare the cauliflower and broccoli on the stove top  for steaming.  I place a bag of baby carrots in a large bowl with a little bit of water at the bottom.  Then I microwave them on high for about eight minutes.  Once they are done, I set them aside to cool for a few minutes.  Then I transfer them to my food processor:

I grind them up in my food processor for about two minutes.  Personally, I like my carrots and all veggies to be in bite size pieces.  I don't add water to them because I don't want to liquify them.  I prefer they be shredded into fine parts.  Like this (pictured below):

Carrots are a useful vegetable to place in muffins, breads and cakes.  I also like to sneak them into tomato sauce, ketchup and other red gravies where the orange color can be hidden. 

Now onto cauliflower....  I will steam my cauliflower after I cut the tips off and remove them from the head and stem.  They only take a few minutes of steaming:

After they begin to get soft, remove them from the heat.  Let them cool for about two minutes.  Then transfer them to the food processor.  Grind them up until they resemble very fine particles of mashed potoes. 

Cauliflower is best sneaked into foods that are lightly colored, like macaroni and cheese, potatoes and rice.  You could always throw them into soups and stews as well.

You do the same thing for broccoli as you do for cauliflower.  Be warned though - broccoli stinks!  But its health benefits outweigh the stinch.  I love to put broccoli in my ground turkey recipes - meatballs, tacos, meatloaf, turkey burgers, etc.  The possibilities are endless. 

When you are done griding up your vegetables, portion them out into 1/2 cup and 1 cup sizes.  This is a half-cup size portion of cauliflower that I snapped a photo of:

Them place them in freezer-safe plastic bags.  Like this:

Although I don't have it pictured here, I often puree spinach too.  Spinach is really easy to do and doesn't require any steaming if you buy the bags of baby spinach leaves.  Simply grind them up and portion them out for later use.

So that's how you have a puree party folks!  It's not rocket science.  It's very easy.  Sometimes I listen to a book on CD or throw on some music and dance around the kitchen while pureeing and steaming.  ;-) 

You'll be done in no time.  Then you have the prep work done for weeks or months in advance!  When you think forward in the kitchen with a little bit of prep work, you won't be working backwards later on! 

Let me know if you have any questions about this post or about pureeing vegetables.  If you have suggestions for a future "Learn With Me," segment, please let me know!   We can learn together.

Stay tuned for more great recipes and my new, hilarious bread machine post later this week too! 


  1. I think cauliflower smells worse than broccoli!! :) If you flatten out your pureed veggies (in the bags), you can stack them to freeze and have more room for more food (or purees!)!!

  2. You know I love my pureed veggies too! I have to tell you, get a Magic Bullet girl!!! You will LOVE it! The puree is so much better. I was using my food processor, but realized the Bullet does it smoother and almost creamier. I added pureed cauliflower to our mashed potatoes, and my hubby didn't even know. Gotta love that!

  3. It certainly makes sense to do a lot of veggies at once, but I'd never thought about making it an "event" before!

  4. I love to put pureed veggies into food! I got the Jessica Seinfeld books from my mom and I love those recipes! I like to puree sweat potatoes and squash, too. Those go great with all kinds of meats and casseroles!