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What does it mean when a recipe says to "blanch"?

Photo: James Baigrie; Styling: Lindsey Beatty

When you blanch, you briefly submerge food in boiling water, usually to partly cook the food. For example, if I want to serve crisp but not raw green beans on my crudite platter, I may cook them in boiling water for just a minute or two, then "shock" them in cold water to stop the cooking. Very often, blanching vegetables will have the added effect of making them more brightly colored.

The Crudité Platter with Roasted Garlic Aioli pictured here features the easy technique of blanching veggies.