Keeping the home refrigerator and freezer stocked with delicious healthy meals is just like running a restaurant, you always have to be planning ahead. Yes, you can purchase packaged items that are easy to heat. However, with a bit of planning, and an understanding of how your Convection and a Steam oven can help you, it's amazing how easy preparing a variety of foods at one time can be.
Remember, one of the best features of your Convection ovens is the ability to easily cook different foods evenly on multiple racks at one time. So say for example you wanted to roast some butternut squash for soup and also roast some vegetables to add to a casserole then both can be cooked at the same time. While the vegetables are roasting you can focus on preparing the other elements of each dish.
What is the Benefit of Roasting Vegetables for Soups?
There are several benefits to roasting vegetables for soup. One is better flavor the other is the ease of cooking especially when large quantities of vegetables are required.
Typically we begin making a soup by sautéing some onion or leeks, then adding the seasoning and sauteing the vegetables, adding the stock, and letting everything simmer for 30 - 40 minutes. This can be challenging when the recipe calls for a large amount of vegetables unless you have a very large saucepan. Spreading the vegetables onto a rimmed baking sheet and roasting them is much easier.
When vegetables are roasted in Convection they have better flavor and texture so when they are added to the soup base and combined with the stock and seasoning the result will be a more flavorful soup.
Also, there is the choreography of cooking to take into account. While the vegetables are roasting you can be prepping the vegetables for the soup base (onions, celery, garlic, etc.) and get that started, then all you will have to do is add the roasted vegetables and finish the soup as directed in the recipe.
Not only is it easier to prepare one soup this way you can also roast vegetables for another soup at the same time or maybe roast some vegetables for a casserole.
Check out these Convection soup recipes for inspiration.
How Does Convection Make Preparing Casseroles Easier?
Casseroles, the ultimate comfort food are certainly delicious, but they generally require a fair bit of work to prepare. Let's look at some ways using Convection can make the prep easier.
Casseroles that include layers of zucchini and eggplant are much easier to prepare when those vegetables are first roasted in the oven. Tomatoes can also be slow roasted to add a greater depth of flavor to a casserole and peppers, corn kernels and mushrooms can all be roasted or quickly broiled for an added punch of flavor for a casserole.
Don’t forget the Steam oven, which is great for steaming potatoes or other root vegetables to create a mashed topping for a casserole and this recipe for Fish Pie will show you just how much easier the prep can be when using your Steam oven.
Stews and Braises
Stews and braises are another version of comfort food that take some time to prepare which means that advance planning is crucial. No point deciding at 5pm that you want braised short ribs for dinner unless you like to eat at 8pm.
Braises and stews often share many common ingredients, the building blocks of flavor. Onion, carrots, celery, leeks and garlic. So if you are prepping these ingredients for one braise or stew then ask yourself, can I prepare another braise or stew at the same time.
Convection won’t help the meat used in most braises cook faster because the tougher cuts of beef, pork and lamb used for braising and stews require long slow cooking to soften the meat. However stews made with chicken or turkey will cook in 45 - 50 minutes,
The benefit of cooking stews and braises in Convection is the fact that you can have multiple pans in the oven at one time and they will be heated evenly by the circulating Convection heat. Another benefit is that side dishes such as polenta or risotto can be cooked in a covered casserole in the oven during the last 45 minutes of the cooking time.
So it might be a longer cooking Convection meal but remember cooking multiple dishes in the oven at one time makes your work in the kitchen easier. Also, remember that most ovens nowadays are self-cleaning while a cooktop still requires manual cleaning.
Best of all soups, braises and stews all freeze well, so the extra effort that goes into creating these fabulous meals meals you can more easily keep your freezer stocked with foods created to your taste.
Stay tuned for my next post, “How to Cook Pork in Convection” ….. There are so many options.
Larissa, your Convection Enthusiast