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How to Heat Vegetables to stay Crisp/ Tender, Rather than Overcooked, on a Shabbos Blech

How do you prepare heated vegetables on the blech on Friday night, so that they stay somewhat crisp/tender, rather than overcooked by the time you sit down to eat them? I was wondering if it would work, to place frozen veggies in foil on the blech before Shabbos - would they be just right by the time we sat down to eat?
Anyone ever try this? What other method might work?
Thanks so much!

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  1. What kinds of veggies specifically?

    5 Replies
    1. re: The Cameraman

      Broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, sugar snap peas, green beans - but I'm open to ideas for any veggies.

      1. re: Bzdhkap

        I like to stir-fry zucchini. Sweat some green onions in a wok, remove them from heat, sweat some zucchini in the wok, remove from heat, toss zucchini and onions with sea salt (the small grained Israeli stuff from Lior), lemon pepper seasoning, adding oil if necessary.

        Cool completely in refrigerator and add to blech just before Shabbos.

        In general, a wok is awesome if you like your veggies crisp. This method also works for snap peas and peppers.

        Another idea: steamed vegetables. Take fresh broccoli (AYLOR), bring a pot of water, salt, and margarine to a fast boil, and either use one of those steel unfolding steaming things or a metal colander that fits in your pot without dunking the vegetables. Add a little black pepper if you like.

        Take a large bowl and put an entire ice tray worth of ice into it. Add very cold water, just enough to cover the ice about an inch. There should be at least four inches of empty space in the bowl. When the vegetables are almost as done as you want them, remove them from the colander with tongs or a slotted spoon and dunk them in the water. When they are cool (less than a minute, usually), remove them and put them on paper towel. When they are mostly dry, put them in a disposable pan and refrigerate till just before Shabbos.

        This method works well with broccoli, cauliflower, baby carrots, peas, snap peas, green beans, and asparagus.

        Note: these methods are for Friday night. If you want crispy vegetables on Shabbos day, it's called "salad" ;-)

        1. re: The Cameraman

          Really? I find that stir-fried veggies get limp as they sit around, blech or not. I roast, boil, or steam vegetables for Shabbos, but although I sautee them all week, I leave that technique for chol.

          1. re: GilaB

            I agree, I've tried to wok my own chinese food erev Shabbos for Shabbos, and the mixture would always get to watery from the veggies despite my even using cornstarch to thicken the gravy when cooking

            1. re: GilaB

              You may be keeping the veggies in the wok too long? I throw them in the wok, toss them a few times, and out they go, barely enough time for the veggies to start to go translucent. They'll finish cooking on the blech.

              Also, any vegetable in liquid is going to be soggy... unless you sous-vide it, maybe? Anyone here have a sous-vide machine?

      2. maybe steam them 1/4 way right before Shabbos and leave the steamer (we use a double level steamer pot) on the blech

        1. Roasted artichokes work well when reheated. They're not supposed to crispy, so you're not losing anything by reheating.

          1. The problem of any food left on the heat for a long time is not the time, it is the temperature. Any food whose internal temperature goes above about 150-160 will have an altered texture: protein food will dry out while most vegetables and fruits will get mushy. It make no difference how much moisture is present (that is why a beef stew can have dried out meat even though it is sitting in a liquid). It is, unfortunately, very hard to maintain a constant temperature on a bleich, though one can try. The key is to bring the food up to the desired temperature and then make sure the bleich is set so it does not go above. Food kept at the right temperature will not get yucky or go bad.

            Due to the fact that the heat is only on the bottom, it may be hard to prevent too much heat at the bottom without losing too much on top, though insulation will certainly help. An alternative is to use a warming drawer set to 160, but make sure the internal temp of any food is already at 160 or you will likely get food poisoning. I do not have data on bacterial growth of food at 160 for 18 hours, but I would think it should be little different than for a crockpot if the container is sealed tightly. If the temperature drops below 150-160, bacteria growth is rapid, and surface temperatures are apt to be lower than internal, unless the food is well insulated and heat surrounds it, so be careful (experiment during the week when you can check temperature).

            (Note I am not a microbiologist nor food safety consultant. This is based on materials I have read from reliable sources, so take it for what it is worth)

            1 Reply
            1. re: mrogovin

              Yay, science!

              Thanks for this, very helpful.

            2. I put them on a plate above another pot on the blech (as the lid) uncovered so it stays slightly warm but does not overcook or release water. I cover with foil right before appetizers (so 15-20 min before serving) so they get a bit warmer before serving. This is for fresh sauteed vegetables, I never use frozen.

              1. Please do not try putting frozen vegetables on a blech overnight for Shabbat lunch. As a wise responder points out, there is a real possibility of bacterial growth when even vegetables are kept at a low temperature that is warm enough to permit bacterial growth. String beans in particular will go bad very quickly. What you are basically doing is creating a petri dish with vegetables. My own practice is much simpler. I cook until crisp and take things out to take the chill off about an hour or two before lunch. They are not stone cold, but not hot. I find that room temperature is just fine for most vegetables. (If you eat them, you can even make a great salad from raw brussel sprouts.

                You may be able to do this and then add the vegetables to a hot dish once it is off the heat, i.e. remove the crock pot container or remove the pot from the blech. You should check with your Rabbi about doing this. Mainly, I just don't expect hot crisp-tender vegetables for Shabbat.

                1. I think you need to rethink the vegetables you serve on Friday night: especially in the winter. I've not found a green vegetable that will hold. Even roasted brussels sprouts will get steamed to death and gross.
                  We enjoy winter squash: butternut, microwaved or roasted and mashed with some orange juice and cinnamon; and sliced & roasted acorn squash. Both will hold for hours in a casserole in a warm oven. The acorn squash is delicious served with a lime/cilantro/jalapeno dressing (check out Smitten Kitchen for the recipe). We also add fingerling potatoes, chunked onions, and mushrooms to roast in the baking pan with the chicken.
                  We always have a plate of sliced cucumbers, red peppers, and sugar snap peas on the Shabbat dinner table. A green salad full of fresh, raw veggies, is also excellent. You could roast some red peppers and/or asparagus ahead of time and serve them at room temperature with a little vinegarette or balsmic vinegar & olive oil.
                  Good luck, p.j.

                  1. Try room temperature.

                    For Friday evening, I often cook a vegetable, (green beans, asparagus, etc.) a couple of hours before candle lighting, arrange it in a serving dish, cover it with some plastic wrap, and set it on the counter. At dinnertime I just serve it. Room temperature work fine with hot food. Sometimes I dress them with a vinaigrette, sometimes with just a dash of basalmic vinegar, sometimes I serve them naked.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: AdinaA

                      Peas. Take a package of frozen peas, especially baby peas, and leave it on the cunter on Friday afternoon to thaw. This won't ork well on an electric blech, but on a plain, sheet metal blech you can put them in a pan just before you light and put the pan on the corner of the blech furthest from the heat on an American 4-burner stovetop with only one burner left on low.

                      Peas thawed just before Shabbat are also a wonderful addition to many kinds of meat stews, cooked mixed vegetable dished, and vegetarian stews (especially curries). Use a klei sheni (presumably the serving dish) to stir them into the dish just before serving. They add a great deal of color and (although frozen) retain their sweet freshness served this way.