Vegetable Preparation and Cooking Times

Please note: These are general cooking times and may vary slightly depending on the quality and freshness of the vegetable. Personal taste may vary as to how you like your vegetables, but these times should suffice to start with, and can be varied slightly the next time you cook them.

The question of salt is now a major health issue, so it's up to you whether to use salted water to cook in or not. The trend is to omit salt, and leave it up to the individual to decide whether to add it at the table as required. If you do use it, keep it to just a pinch.

VegetablePreparationCooking MethodCooking Time (approx)
ArtichokeCut off the stalk and remove the hard outside leaves. Cut off about 2.5cm from the outside leaves to make an opening in the centre top. Wash well and drain heads down.Place heads downwards in enough boiling water to cover them. When cooked, the leaves can easily be removed.30 to 45 minutes
AsparagusWash the sticks carefully, cutting off a little of the white base of the stalk.Lie flat in a steamer or stand in a tall pan. Boil gently in water.15 to 20 minutes
Aubergine
or Egg Plant
Wipe or wash. Peel if to be fried or sauted.Bake: Parboil first if they are to be stuffed. Fry in slices dipped in flour or batter.Parboil: 20 minutes
Bake: 30 minutes
Fry: 10 to 12 minutes
Beans (Broad)Shell and wash. Very young beans can be cooked whole.Cook in boiling water.15 to 20 minutes
Beans (French or Runner)Wash and string the beans. French beans can be cooked whole. Runner beans are best cut into thin slices.Cook in boiling water.10 to 15 minutes
BeetrootWash carefully, taking care not to break the skin.Cook in boiling water until soft.1 to 2 hours
BroccoliCut off stalks and coarse outer leaves.
Wash in cold water.
Cook in boiling water.10 to 15 minutes
CabbageRemove any discoloured outer leaves. Cut off the end of thick stalks. Wash in cold water.Cook in a little fast boiling water.10 to 12 minutes
Cabbage (Savoy or Red)Remove discoloured outer leaves. Cut into quarters. Cut out the center stalk. Wash or soak in cold water. Shred finely with a sharp knife.Cook in a little fast boiling water.10 to 15 minutes
CarrotsScrape and slice length wise or chop into circles.
Baby carrots: Scrub well and cook whole.
Cook in boiling water.15 to 20 minutes
CauliflowerCut off the thick stalk and outer leaves. Soak for 15 minutes in cold salted water, then drain. Leave whole, in florets, or slice cutting across the stump.Cook (stem down if whole) in boiling water.Whole: 15 to 20 minutes
Florets: 10 to 15 minutes
CeleryWash and scrub. Scrape outside leaves if necessary. Cut into short lengths as required.Cook in boiling water20 to 30 minutes
ChicoryCut off a thin slice from the base of each head, and remove the core. Wash in salt water.Cook in boiling water. Optionally, add the juice of half a lemon to the water.30 minutes
Corn on the CobStrip off the outer green leaves and wash.Bring pan of water to the boil. Place corn inside. Cover with tightly fitting lid, then remove from the heat.7 minutes
CourgettesWash and cut lengthwise.
Saute: Wash and remove top and bottom, then cut into slices.
Cook in boiling water.
Saute: In garlic flavoured butter. Add a little black pepper.
10 to 15 minutes
Saute: Fry until golden brown, turning often.
EndiveWash thoroughly, discarding the coarse outer leaves. Seperate leaves from the root.Although usually served shredded in a salad, it may be braised or stewed.20 to 30 minutes
LeeksRemove coarse outside leaves. Cut off tops and root. Wash thoroughly and split down the centre.Cook in boiling water.

Braise: Use in soups or stews.
15 to 25 minutes

45 to 60 minutes
MarrowPeel, cut in half and remove the seeds. Cut into even sized pieces.Cook in boiling water.10 to 20 minutes
MushroomsCultivated mushrooms: Wipe with a damp cloth.
Field mushrooms: Skin and washed thoroughly.
Fry: lightly in a little oil, turning to cook both sides.
Grill: brush with oil and grill on each side.
2 to 3 minutes each side
OnionsPeel. (can be done under cold water, to stop eyes watering)Fry: slice and fry until golden brown.
Boil: in water.
Bake: in casserole in oven.
5 to 8 minutes

20 to 30 minutes
40 minutes
ParsnipsPeel. Quarter and remove hard centre core if required.
Roast: cook whole or in equal pieces.
Cook in boiling water.

Roast: in oven tray.
30 to 40 minutes

15 to 20 minutes
Peas (Garden)Shell and rinse in cold water.Cook in a little boiling water. A sprig of mint and a little sugar can be added.10 to 15 minutes
Older peas may take a little longer
Peppers (Green or Red)Wash and wipe. Cut off stalk. Take out the hard stalk. To stuff, cut a hole in the middle.Bake: boil first in water.
The stuff and bake.

Salad: shred and serve.
5 minutes
30 minutes
PotatoesNew: wash and scrape.
Old: wash and peel.
Baked: wash and scrub.
Leave in cold water, until required.
New: best boiled in water.
Old: boiled and/or mashed.
Baked: in their jackets, whole or stuffed.
15 to 20 minutes
20 minutes
1 to 1½ hours
PulseWash and soak for 12 hours. Best if left overnight.Simmer in water in which they were soaked.2 hours
PumpkinCut in quarters, peel off skin and discard seeds. Slice thickly.Cook in boiling water30 minutes or until tender
Sea KaleTrim off the thick ends of the stalks and wash thoroughly.Cook in boiling water.30 minutes to 1 hour
ShallotsPeel as onions.Bake in casserole in oven.
Cook in boiling water.
30 minutes
35 to 45 minutes
SpinachWash well, and remove coarse stalks.Place in a pan with no water. Cook gently at first, stirring, then boil rapidly.15 minutes
Sprouts (Brussel)Remove discoloured outer leaves and trim stalks. Cut a cross in bottom of each.Cook in boiling water.10 to 15 minutes
SwedeWash and peel. Cut into pieces or finely dice.
Can be mashed later, with added butter.
Cook in boiling water.Young: 15 to 20 minutes
Old: 45 to 60 minutes
TomatoesUsually eaten with skin on, but to remove skin, dip in very hot water.Grill: cut in half, brush with a little oil and season.
Bake: whole or in half.
Bake: stuffed.
5 to 10 minutes

15 to 20 minutes
20 to 30 minutes
TurnipWash and peel. Cut into pieces or finely dice.
Can be mashed later, with butter added.
Cook in boiling water.Young: 15 to 20 minutes
Old: 30 minutes

Note that some of the above cooking times can be reduced if you like your vegetables cooked "al dente" style, which is now recommended to retain more goodness (and taste) of certain vegetables.

The idea of soaking fresh vegetables in salted water used to be to remove any insects that may be present. With supermarket pre-rinsed and pre-packed vegetables that are ready to use, this is not usually necessary today. Too much salt is not good for you.

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