Blanching is an easy technique that many cooks use to keep vegetables crisp and tender. By boiling vegetables briefly, chilling them in ice water, then reheating them slowly, blanching preserves texture, colour and flavour.
Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil over high heat. Add enough salt so the water tastes faintly salty.
While the water heats, fill a medium bowl about three-quarters of it with ice, then add enough cold water to come just to the top of the ice.
When the water is boiling and the ice bath is ready, trim the vegetables to the size you need. It's best to trim them just prior to cooking so they won't oxidise or dehydrate.
Add the vegetables to the boiling water in batches small enough to ensure that the water doesn't lose its boil.
Boil the vegetables only until they're barely cooked through but still tender. To test, remove one piece with a slotted spoon, dip it into the ice bath to cool, and eat it.
As soon as the vegetables are done, remove them as fast as you can and submerge them in the ice bath.
Remove them from the ice bath as soon as they are no longer warm.
To reheat the vegetables, you can use any cooking method you wish, like sautéeing, grilling, or boiling; just make sure to barely heat them up and not to cook them again.
Blanching is best for vegetables like asparagus, green beans, spinach, broccoli and cauliflower. If you were to serve these vegetables right out of the boiling water, they would continue to cook and might become too mushy. These vegetables, blanched, are also great for crudités (vegetable platters). Serve with aioli (garlic mayonnaise) or another dip. You can also boil and chill pasta this way, for cold pasta dishes or for pasta you plan to reheat later.