The joy of cooking with fresh ingredients when it becomes part of your routine is the combinations you can pull off at any given moment. What started with making homemade baby food ended up a new way to store food for future cooking and uses. Though we are not always using “fresh, never frozen” ingredients we due preach utilizing freezing and refrigerating freshly prepared foods such as carrots, broccoli and other mixtures you can think of. For instance we will build soup bases, sauce bases and other mixes to allow for quicker turnaround in a pinch when you need to cook something.
In the case of the bread in the above picture we utilized cooked down and blended broccoli to moisten a basic white bread (sourdough starter) recipe. After allowing the bread to raise (a few times) we rolled it out and stuffed it with freshly shredded colby jack cheese. When cooking with flour regularly for bread and pasta having cooked down ingredients like puree zucchini, carrot or broccoli allows you to quickly add moisture an flavor to any starch. Recently during the PASTA TRIALS we used multiple vegetable purees to moisten and flavor different pastas. Often times the pasta didn’t have much flavor (of the vegetable) but the pasta will be moist and have a great texture. Zucchini was great for this purpose with pasta in that it gave a slight sweet taste and great texture.
The other addition to utilizing vegetable puree to moisten your starches is the nutritional value you are adding to the dish that would not have been there otherwise. Though you will lose some nutrients from cooking down the vegetable and processing it to the consistency.
But how do these mixes work when preparing sauces or soups?
Having a base from cooking down garlic, butter and seasoning (then freezing) allows you in a pinch to saute and add flavor to any sauce. We experimented with how many stages and mixtures we could use in the making of a traditional bolognese and marinara sauce as well as a few different soup starters. Below are some of the mixtures we have tested and work/hold quite well when freezing and thawing.
- Mixture 1
- Garlic, basil, oregano butter and carrot
- Mixture 2
- tomato, basil, oregano and minced onion
- Mixture 3
- Cream, Carrot, garlic, Oregano and basil
- Mixture 1
- Base 1
- Chicken base, onion, garlic salt and seasoning
- Base 2
- Beef base, salt, seasoning and puree carrot
- Base 3
- Broccoli puree, salt, cream and chicken base
- Base 1
There are a few different ways you can freeze the bases, though larger cubes (which can be bought) are easier, we learned that small (average size cubes) are best because they cook down/thaw quicker minimizing the risk of burning the ingredients. The best part of this tip is that you can create anything that works with your recipes and what you want, through trial and error.