Sauteing vegetables - Introduction

Sauteing vegetables is a simple but disciplinary act. The overused term of deconstruction by restaurants has some bearing here... The deconstruction here happens thru applying different cooking times to  each vegetable as applicable Just like my article on cooking techniques sauteing vegetables has some very basic and elementary understanding.

The basics of sauteing vegetables

  • Each vegetable has its own cooking time  and that's its sweet spot, remember less is more
  • Always cook them separately before you assemble them to a saute
  • Blanching is the sweet & simple little trick nobody told you, this is what most chefs do to ensure the crunchy lively texture
  • Rapid boiling before you blanch the vegetables
  • Rapid cooling to help them restore the texture
  • Toss gently and fast once you want to serve

Blanching it before sauteing vegetables

Once you get the water to an aggressive boil, pot these vegetable and keep a colander and iced water ready to cool them.

Vegetables like French beans take about 4 minutes of aggressive boiling

Diced carrots would take about 2.5 minutes (An elaborate list with variance of vegetable sizes are listed) You will just like my article on cooking techniques the recipe of what you do with these vegetables is "insignificant" considering this important context.

Potatoes should be cut in advance to the desired shape and then blanched this restores the shape and form


sauteing vegetables - asparagus spears & mushrooms

sauteing vegetables - asparagus spears & mushrooms source:



Vegetables like spinach can be sauteed with these blanched vegetables and needs to cooking, in short while you added most vegetables onto a skillet and noticed they are squishy it was because you did not allow the vegetables to firm up. So it just wilts away.

While blanching one can use a pinch of soda bicarbonate to ensure colour restoration, do note soda bicarbonate accelerates cooking time, these examples of cooking time are mentioned assuming you will NOT be using them. Reduce cooking times to 30 seconds to a minute.

Tip: Start by boiling the longest time consuming vegetable first and then proceed to the next. Do not use vegetables like beetroot or potatoes into this, they are best done separately. This is definitely not the best way but an effective cheat.

Once the vegetables are boiled to the desired time keep a strainer and a colander full of iced water to arrest the heat and cooking. Run the vegetable on tap water for a while to drain put the surface heat, then dip them in this iced cold water.

Place them in the refrigerator, they stay great upto 2 days in this state.

Notes on Sauteing vegetables

Now that your vegetables are ready ensure you saute the garlics or onions well, use which ever sauce you please. If you use leaves such as spinach add them now say 30 seconds before the vegetable along with, turn up the heat and now add the rest of your vegetables and flash toss them adding seasonings sprinkling over them. once you see the glaze and if you're using any white sauce you might want to give the edges a bit of browning as well. Pan/Wok movement ensure equal distribution of heat and not letting the vegetables on the base cook more than the surface. This alows for the  sauce and glaze to coat uniformly as well.

Serve immediately enjoy this new little trick on sauteing vegetables


List of vegetables & their cooking time


Blanch (boiling chart) - Pre sauteing  vegetables


Time (mins)

Artichoke Hearts7
Artichoke – Jerusalem3 to 5
Asparagus – small stalk2
Asparagus – medium stalk3
Asparagus – large stalk4
Beans – snap, green, or wax3
Beans – lima, butter, or pinto – small2
Beans – lima, butter, or pinto – medium3
Beans – lima, butter, or pinto – large4
Broccoli (flowerets 1 1/2 inches across)3
Brussels sprouts – small heads3
Brussels sprouts – medium heads4
Brussels sprouts – large heads5
Cabbage or Chinese cabbage – shredded1 1/2
Cabbage or Chinese cabbage – wedges3
Carrots – small, whole5
Carrots – diced, sliced, or lengthwise strips2
Cauliflower (flowerets, 1 inch across)3
Corn-on-the-cob – small ears7
Corn-on-the-cob – medium ears9
Corn-on-the-cob – large ears11
Greens – collards3
Greens – all other2
Kohlrabi – whole3
Kohlrabi – cubes1
Okra – small pods3
Okra – large pods4
Onions (blanch until center is heated)3 to 7
Onion rings10-15 secs
Peas – edible pod2 to 3
Peas – green1 1/2 – 2 1/2
Peppers, sweet – halves5
Peppers, sweet – strips or rings3
Potatoes3 to 5
Soybeans – green5
Squash – summer3

Fruit Blanching Times

Tomato (for peeling)30 secs
Apples (for peeling)30 secs
Peaches (for peeling)30 secs
Pears (for peeling)30-60 secs

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