You've probably heard the word sauté thrown around when talking about cooking methods. With many cooking techniques like basting, frying, sautéing, stir frying, and searing, knowing when to use each technique can be daunting. Well, don't worry, because I'm here to clear things up and tell you all you need to know about sautéing. Today, you'll learn all you need to know about sautéing to perfection. We'll cover:
- What sautéing means
- The best pans for sautéing
- Tips and tricks to execute sautéing to perfection
- Some awesome vegetables to sauté
What is Sautéing?
Sautéing is simply cooking food quickly in a small amount of fat, on medium or medium-high heat. Most commonly, you'll be sautéing vegetables in olive oil, and it's a great way to prepare vegetables healthily and quickly. You're able to add color to your food while still keeping the vegetable tender and not mushy. So get yourself a frying pan or sauté pan, some olive oil, and your vegetables of choice. We recommend broccoli rabe, kale, and asparagus, but the possibilities are endless.
Pick your Pan
When sautéing, you want to choose a pan that will help, not hurt you. Our recommendation? A stainless steel pan with a large surface area that has either straight or sloped sides. Blue carbon steel pans would also be great because they're light and are easy to maneuver around the stovetop. Cast iron isn't the best choice, as they're heavy, and it's tough to control their heat.
Preheating is Key
After you select your pan, preheat it over medium or medium-high heat. This will keep your pan at its intended temperature for longer and is a vital step in all cooking applications. After the pan has been preheated for 1-2 minutes, add a small amount of oil. We recommend using olive oil when sautéing vegetables due to its added flavor and health benefits. Although the smoke point is lower, it will not burn if you're using medium or medium-high heat. It's essential to let the oil preheat in the pan because anytime you add something to a hot sauté pan, the temperature will drop. After the oil has been in the pan for a few minutes and both the pan and oil have come back to temperature, it's time for your food.
Once the pan and oil are preheated, you want to add your vegetables. Ideally, all your vegetables would be the same size, yet if there are larger pieces, make sure you stir and toss them so that no pieces of food get the majority of the heat while others are resting on top. Once your vegetables are in the pan, give them a quick toss, so each piece is coated with oil, and then leave them be. To develop a good char and color on your vegetables, you need to let the pan and oil do its job. I know there is an urge to continually toss and flip and stir, but this just interrupts the cooking process. After your vegetables have had time to cook, give them a stir, and make sure the other sides are in contact with the pan.
The Finished Product
You'll know your vegetables are done when they are have taken on color, are still a bit tender, and not yet mushy. Some of our favorite vegetables to sauté are asparagus, broccoli, broccoli rabe, and mushrooms. Once your vegetables are done, make sure to serve them in a bowl or on a serving platter that will keep them warm! Finish with some salt and pepper and some fresh herbs, and you've got yourself a healthy yet tasty meal that will be gone in seconds!