spring pea risotto

Faced with a lot of frozen food to use right now? These are some of the best ways to use frozen fruit and cook frozen vegetables so they never feel like a consolation prize.

When it comes to texture, crispness, and flavor, fresh produce trumps frozen. But on the plus side, bags of icy veggies and fruits can keep for months and there’s no significant loss in nutrients due to the process of blanching produce at peak ripeness.

Perhaps just as importantly, they can be a huge source of relief for an overwhelmed home cook who isn’t thrilled about another night of slicing and chopping and washing dishes.

Related Reading: These Make-Ahead Freezer Meals Are Great for Weeknights

And if you use the right recipes, no one will be the wiser. Here are a few of our favorite ways to use frozen fruit and vegetables.

Mains

Pea Risotto

spring pea risotto

Chowhound

The convenience of frozen peas vastly outweighs the time-consuming task of shucking them yourself. While you miss out on a lot of the verdant color of fresh spring peas, sauteing them for a few minutes on medium heat with a thin slice of butter (as opposed to boiling or steaming them) can still give you that satisfying pop. Using them blended and whole in a simple risotto provides a nice contrast in texture. Get our Pea Risotto recipe.

Mushroom Frittata


Mushrooms may have the steepest drop-off of all produce when it comes to losing their texture in the freezing process. Even if you’re just tossing them into a soup (they’re particularly a nice addition to ramen), you should always begin by sauteing them in a little butter, preferably with garlic and other herbs. With the extra boost of flavor they make an especially great addition to this simple frittata for a hearty breakfast. Get the Mushroom Frittata recipe.

Creamy Pesto Mac with Spinach


No matter how many times you cook fresh spinach, it’s always a shock to watch that massive bag you procured from the store wilt down into a few measly bites of food. At least with frozen spinach, what you see is what you get. Kids these days may not have much appreciation for Popeye or his love of the stuff, but it’s too easy to sneak it into pasta dishes like this creamy creation with little fuss or notice. Get the Creamy Pesto Mac with Spinach recipe.

Chicken Corn Egg Drop Soup


Just like with peas, using frozen corn offers a welcome respite from tedious prep work. Slicing the kernels off and eating it off the cob are both messy tasks (though the latter is a lot more enjoyable). While the flavor and snap of frozen corn don’t measure up to its fresh counterpart, they retain a rich, bright color that adds a visual kick to any dish they’re a part of including this Chinese takeout favorite. Get the Chicken Corn Egg Drop Soup recipe.

Sides

Mashed Butternut Squash


Butternut squash is an overlooked gem in the frozen aisle. Beyond the fact that you don’t have to take on the laborious and messy task of peeling and chopping a giant veggie, at the end of the day, squash is going to be cooked ‘til it’s soft enough to eat. Working with frozen morsels saves you time and energy and the results are remarkably good, whether you decide to simply roast them in the oven or give them the classic mashed treatment. Get the Mashed Butternut Squash recipe.

Roasted Frozen Broccoli


This clever hack doesn’t promise to deliver the exact same results you’d get with a fresh floret, but by roasting at a high heat, you can battle the limpness of frozen broccoli and end up with a nice crunch. Sprinkle with oil, salt, pepper and other seasonings of your choosing and after 25-30 minutes in the oven you’ll have a flavorful, healthy side. Get the Roasted Frozen Broccoli recipe.

Air Fryer Pearl Onions


These bite-sized delights pack a wallop when it comes to flavor, offering both sweet and savory notes as a complementary side to a hefty serving of protein. You can saute them in a skillet, but if you have an air fryer, it’s a game-changer in terms of preparing them, particularly when they’re frozen. Not only do they come peeled, the thawing ice combined with the dry air of the fryer results in an even, all-around crisp. Get the Air Fryer Pearl Onions recipe.

Parmesan Roasted Green Beans


The nice thing about frozen green beans is they steam in a basket quickly and easily (3-5 minutes) if you need a quick and easy side. But if you want to get fancy, try roasting them. Just be sure to allow time for them to thaw and dry before you turn on the oven. Adding parmesan during the bake gives them an extra kick. Get the Parmesan Roasted Green Beans recipe.

Desserts

Berry Frozen Yogurt


Smoothie aficionados are more than familiar with the benefits of stocking up on frozen berries. Particularly, no more fear of opening up the fridge and seeing those expensive little jewels you just bought at the store forming mold spores and going completely to waste. Though thawing the berries and eating them on their own isn’t recommended (unless you enjoy a mushy consistency) there are plenty of other tasty uses for them. Go the smoothie route, or, if you have Greek yogurt on hand, try your hand at homemade berry froyo—ready in five minutes and no ice cream maker necessary. Get the Berry Frozen Yogurt recipe.

Peach Cobbler


One of the best things about this cobbler recipe is it’s incredibly easy to scale up or down. You can load up a baking dish to feed your family or have leftovers for the days ahead. But if you only want a solo serving or two, not a problem. Just prepare the cobbler in individual ramekins and save the rest of your frozen peach bag for a future dessert baked fresh from the oven. Get the Peach Cobbler recipe.

Related Video: The Best Way to Store Food in the Freezer

David is a food and culture writer based in Los Angeles by way of New York City. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, CBS Local, Mashable, and Gawker.
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