Soggy. Wilted. Mushy. Raise your hand if these adjectives could ever be used to describe your steamed vegetables. Hey, it happens. Luckily, chef Andy Bennett from Michelin-starred, health-conscious restaurant Rouge Tomate is here to help us cook veggies like a pro. Here, six things he wants you to stop doing, like, yesterday.

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veggie chop

Chopping Vegetables Unevenly

It’s totally fine to steam a rainbow of peppers, carrots, squash and mushrooms all at the same time—go nuts. But if you’re cooking different-sized veggies, Bennett suggests chopping them into similar sizes before you start. That way, they cook evenly and you ensure each bite is perfectly tender.

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Roasting on the Wrong Temperature

When you’re cooking veggies in a roasting pan, remember the magic number: 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Any lower, and you risk pulling a pan of blah carrots out of the oven. “It might seem high, but to get the nice roasted flavor, you need high heat,” says Bennett.

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Boiling (Not Blanching) Your Veggies

OK, this one kind of blew our minds. The reason the broccoli you cook at home is never as crisp and green as the broccoli you get at a restaurant is because it’s blanched. “Steam the vegetables until they’re tender and then ‘shock’ them in ice water to stop the cooking and keep them nice and vibrant,” Bennett tells us. Then when you’re ready to eat, just heat 'em in a frying pan for a few seconds to warm them up.

veggie seasoning

Seasoning Too Late

If you’re giving your asparagus a quick hit of salt and pepper right before you eat it, you’re not giving the flavors a chance to develop, says Bennett. Instead, season as early as possible (like, right when you put the veggies in the frying or roasting pan) for the tastiest veggies.

veggie oil
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Using Too Much Oil

Vegetables soak up liquid when you cook, so they’ll absorb whatever you put in the pan—that includes the three tablespoons of olive oil you just poured in. Bennett says adding just a drizzle of oil is usually plenty. As the veggies cook, they release water, adding extra moisture to the pan and keeping everything from sticking.

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Not Utilizing the Entire Plant

Hey you, throwing out those cauliflower stalks. Didn’t you know you can toss them into your food processor to make mashed cauliflower, the best side dish ever created? Veggie scraps are also a great addition to soups and stews, so there’s no excuse for throwing them in the trash. (And if you’re not ready to use them right away, pop them in the freezer.)

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