We Show You How To Prepare Perfect Vegetables

In this article, we take a look at how to prepare vegetables, including tips on skinning tomatoes and preparing globe artichokes for cooking.

How to Chop Onions

  1. Chop off the neck of the onion, but do not cut off the root end.
  2. Peel the onion, by scoring down its side, then removing the skin and first layer of flesh. Try peeling it under running water to prevent the release of the sulphuric compounds that may make your eyes water.
  3. Halve the onion through the root and lay it cut side down.
  4. Slice down into narrow strips, cutting from tip end towards the root end – do not let the strips fall apart.
  5. Holding the half onion together, cut across the strips, at right angles to the first cuts.
  6. Remove the root end and the onion will fall into dice.

How to Revive Wilted Lettuce

Wilted lettuce leaves may be revived using the following method:

  1. Place the leaves in a bowl of warm water; this will open up the pores of the lettuce so that they become full of water.
  2. After soaking for 10 minutes, plunge the leaves into a bowl of ice water; this will close the lettuce pores, sealing the water in.

How to Skin a Tomato

  1. Place the tomato in hot water for 1 minute.
  2. Remove from water and then peel the soft skin away from the wet tomato.

Alternative Method

  1. Hold the tomato over a gas flame until the skin chars.
  2. Remove from flame and then peel away the charred skin from the tomato.

Preparing Avocados

  1. Cut the avocado in half lengthways all the way round and down to the stone.
  2. Twist the two halves in opposite directions and pull them apart.
  3. Using the point of a knife, lift out the stone and remove it.
  4. Avocado flesh will soon start to turn brown after it has been cut, so you should only prepare it just before you are ready to serve. Alternatively, sprinkle lemon or lime juice over its surface to prevent it from discolouring. This is particularly important for puréed dishes such as guacamole.

Preparing Garlic

  1. Separate the garlic into cloves, then lay one clove on a chopping board.
  2. Take a broad-bladed knife or cleaver, lay it sideways on the clove and pound it once with your fist. The garlic skin will easily pull away.
  3. Continue chopping, mashing or crushing as required. If the garlic clove has a green shoot inside, you should remove it before preparing any further, as it has a bitter taste.
  4. Whether you chop the cloves, mash them under the flat of a knife, or crush them in a garlic press is a matter of taste: the finer the result, the more of the pungent oils are released. In this way, crushing the garlic clove will give a more intense flavour than slicing.

Preparing Globe Artichokes

When working with globe artichokes, rub all cut surfaces with juice from lemon halves to prevent discoloration.

  1. Snap off the stalk of the artichoke at the base, pulling out the fibres with it.
  2. Bend a large lower leaf over towards the base until it snaps, and then pull it off. Snap off all the large outer leaves in the same way.
  3. Cut off the cone of paler green, soft inner leaves, by cutting straight across just above the hairy choke.
  4. Using a small knife, trim away all the dark green parts from around the base and sides of the artichoke. When you have finished, the artichoke should be a neat round shape.
  5. Using a teaspoon, scoop out the hairy choke in the centre.
  6. Either plunge the artichoke heart in water acidulated with lemon juice to prevent discoloration, or cook it immediately.

Preparing Leeks

  1. Trim off the roots and any tough, outer green leaves.
  2. Cut the leek in half lengthways.
  3. Rinse the halved leek under cold running water until all traces of grit and soil have been removed. You may need to loosen the leaves gently so that the water can run right into the furled vegetable.
  4. Cut into lengths or slices as desired.