Billy Penn Events

5 tips for easy veggie prep from a Fishtown chef

Boiling water can be flavor’s best friend. Who knew?

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Khoran Horn knows vegetables. For years he’s run Old City’s Stripp’d Juice, and he’s also a classically trained chef who runs the culinary collective BLVCK.

In advance of our healthy cooking demo with Horn on Sept. 24 at Independence LIVE (tickets here — come out!), we caught up with the 35-year-old at his Fishtown row house — where he lives with his entrepreneur wife and two beautiful sons — for some veggie prep wisdom you can use at home.

1) Rinse with a touch of vinegar

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Most vegetables are fine just rinsed well in lukewarm water, Horn said, but if you want to be sure, add a touch of vinegar to your wash.

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

That’s what he does at Stripp’d. It gets rid of most bacteria and spray-on pesticides.

2) Boiling water is flavor’s best friend

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Blanching — aka quickly scalding, then stopping the cooking process with a cold water bath — is Horn’s favorite way to prepare many veggies. Especially broccoli, which he usually sees home chefs fuss over with various oils and spices.

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

“Let vegetables be vegetables,” Horn said.

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

After dropping florets in salted boiling water for one minute and letting them cool in a colander, the broccoli was tasty enough that his seven-year-old son was stealing bites.

3) Use a peeler to make the most of your root veg

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Many people will cut off the tops of beets where they meet the greens, but Horn considers that a waste. “Just peel off the brown stuff and you’re good to go.”

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

In general, Horn suggests peeling beets before cooking, unless you’re planning to salt-roast.

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

4) Don’t toss the greens or the stems

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Just like “nose-to-tail” has become popular in animal cooking, there’s been a growing movement toward using the entire vegetable — including stems and greens. Chefs have been doing this for ages (it helps reduce food costs), but you can do it at home too, Horn said.

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

With broccoli, for example, the thick trunk is totally worth including in your meals. Just blanch it for an extra minute when you’re cooking.

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Beet greens make for another excellent ingredient that can be swapped in for kale, collards or dandelion greens in almost any recipe, or just sauteed up with salt and pepper.

5) Salt, pepper, olive oil…and that’s it

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Horn’s favorite topping for almost any vegetable — but especially hearty end-of-summer/early fall produce like carnival squash — is nothing but salt, pepper and olive oil.

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

“That way you can actually taste the vegetable, instead of just whatever you put on it,” he said.

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Instead of adding other spices before cooking, Horn will toss them in afterwards, “so the flavors meld.” Togarashi spice blend mixed with just-blanched broccoli is one of his top combos.

6) Make your oven do double duty

Ok, this isn’t really a veggie cooking tip. More of a “get you a home chef who can do both” aspirational note.

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

At the same time as Horn was roasting squash for this photo shoot, he was baking homemade cinnamon rolls for his family.

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

They were delicious. But only served after the veggies were devoured first.

Want some more? Explore other Billy Penn Events stories.

Mornings are for coffee and local news

Billy Penn’s free morning newsletter gives you a daily roundup of the top Philly stories you need to start your day.

You finished another Billy Penn article — keep it up!

We hope you found it useful, fun, or maybe even both. If you want more stories like this, will you join us as a member today?

Nice to see you (instead of a paywall)

Billy Penn’s mission is to provide free, quality information to Philadelphians through our articles and daily newsletter. If you believe local journalism is key to a healthy community, join us!

Your donation brought this story to life

Billy Penn only exists because of supporters like you. If you find our work valuable, consider making a sustaining donation today.

Being informed looks good on you

Thanks for reading another article, made possible by members like you. Want to share BP with a friend?