Basic Method for Parboiling Green Vegetables

Preparation info

  • Makes


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Get in There and Cook: A Master Class for the Starter Chef

Get in There and Cook

By Richard Sax

Published 1997

  • About

Parboiling means to cook quickly in plenty of boiling water, usually salted to bring out flavor and uncovered. This method preserves color and crunch. The disadvantage? Nutrients are leeched out into the cooking liquid—so you may want to hang onto the liquid for soups, stews, sauces, or whatever. While this recipe is for green beans, it is a basic method that can be used for many other green vegetables; some specifics follow


  • Generous sprinkle of salt
  • 1 to 1½ pounds slender green beans, ends trimmed
  • Unsalted butter or olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


    1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. (If you cover the pan, the water will boil more quickly.) Uncover and add a generous sprinkling of salt.
    2. Add the green beans by handfuls so the water continues to boil. Boil gently, uncovered, until the vegetables are crisp-tender to the bite, usually about 2 to 4 minutes. If the beans are quite slender, they can be done in as little as a minute. Go by feel, not by time. And don’t overcook—or undercook.
    3. Drain the beans in a colander and refresh under cold running water. Now you can place them on a paper towel-lined plate, cover, and refrigerate until serving time.
    4. Heat a little butter or olive oil in a large nonstick skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the blanched beans and toss just until heated through, usually about 3 minutes. Add a grind or two of pepper and serve hot, with a lemon wedge.