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How to Sous Vide: Leafy Vegetables

Cooked incorrectly, some leafy vegetables can turn an unappetizing khaki color with sous vide. But there are ways to use the method to improve the texture and flavor of this healthy produce.

From massaging kale to wilting spinach, there are lots of ways to break down leafy vegetables. Sous vide can be another kitchen partner, too, although knowing a few tricks and tips can help, since some gorgeous leafy vegetables can turn an unappetizing khaki color in reduced-oxygen cooking.

Consider compression
Use a vacuum sealer to break down a leafy green without using heat. Compression also intensifies the color of green vegetables like spinach. In our recipe for Mustard Greens with Cannellini Beans and Onion Confit, we compress the mustard greens separately from the rest of the ingredients, which are cooked sous vide. Both are then combined and quickly sautéed before serving.

Know your vegetables
Some leafy vegetables can tolerate sous vide cooking better than others. In our Grilled Salad with Beer-Honey Vinaigrette and Gouda Spread recipe, we place the romaine, endives, radicchio, and fennel into separate sous vide pouches with canola oil, salt, and pepper—but only the endives, radicchio, and fennel go in the water bath, while the romaine just rests.

Add a colorful spice
For flavor and color, head to your spice rack. Our recipe for Grilled Cabbage with Honey-Mustard Dressing combines green cabbage wedges with small amounts of saffron in a sous vide pouch, where they marinate for two hours before cooking in a water bath.

Try pre-blanching
Before the water bath, start at the stove. For our Seared Brussels Sprouts with Harissa-Tahini Sauce recipe, we blanch the Brussels sprouts in salted boiling water, cool them in an ice bath, and then transfer them to a sous vide pouch with salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil for cooking in the water bath.

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