Count Broccula's veg-head ramblings

My home experiments with vegetarian cooking. Focused on seasonal produce with some vegan stuff thrown in for good measure. I may include random other food-related stuff as I please.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Spring vegetable ragout

This week was a happy surprise cooking-wise. I'd fallen into a bit of a stir-fry/fried rice/salad rut, and Wednesday when I got my veggies there were quite a few interesting things, fennel and fava beans among them. There were also salad greens, carrots, leeks, asparagus and kale. So I get home, put it all down on the counter, and sit down to read the bit of the newspaper I hadn't gotten to, the Taste section. Inside was a whole article on ragouts, which I had neither made nor even tasted before. There were three recipes, and none of them used all the vegetables I had, and I was missing some ingredients for all of them, but since the method of preparation was the same for all three, and since I am a great improviser, I decided to make up my own. It went like this:

2 medium fennel bulbs, sliced thinly plus reserved fennel fronds for garnish
15-20 fava bean pods
1 bunch asparagus
2 leeks
4 small carrots
1 Tbs butter
Sea salt & fresh ground black pepper
lemon juice

Bring one large pan of salted water to boil. Split fava bean pods open and remove beans. Drop them into the boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. When the water is boiling again, drop the sliced fennel bulbs in, blanch for about 1 minute, then remove and set aside. Trim asparagus (break off the woody ends, then break or cut into about 1 1/2 inch lengths. Blanch the asparagus in the boiling water for aproximately 1 minute, remove, etc. Cut the leeks into chunks (I did slices, and they were a little too insubstantial, I think), blanch 1 minute . . . Scrub the carrots, cut into carrot sticks, maybe 3 inches long and quartered lengthwise. Blanch a little longer, 2-3 minutes. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add all vegetables and cook about 2 minutes. Finally, take about 1 cup of the water you used for blanching and add it to the pan, braising the vegetables for 5-7 minutes. I put everything in a nice serving bowl, sprinkled sea salt and pepper over it, squeezed about a tablespoon of lemon juice over the whole thing, chopped about a tablespoon of fennel fronds finely and threw those over the top, and served it with the remaining saice from the pan.

Some notes: like I said, I kind of took three recipes and combined them. One of them called for stock at the end and another just called for water. I sort of compromised; since the water I'd blanched everything in had some flavor in it, almost like a stock, I used it. It worked fine for me. The simple sea salt/pepper/lemon juice was a really nice compliment. I don't think it would have been nearly as good with table salt, old pepper, and juice from a plastic lemon. We ate it with rice, but when I had the leftovers the next day, I ate it unaccompanied, and it was still great. This is one of those dishes that you have to like veggies to like, because they're not drowned in hollandaise sauce or cheese or something, but if you DO like veggies, it's great!

I figure you could use a bunch of different veggies in this, as long as you follow the basic three step pattern -- blanch, butter, braise. One of the recipes featured parsnips, which I haven't had in a while, but if I make this again soon, I might just have to go get some. The carrots came out sweet and tender, and I imagine parsnips would benefit from the treatment, too.


Blogger Ezio said...

Have you ever seen Asparagus this BIG
I like your blog and I will come back.
easy asparagus recipe

October 8, 2005 at 9:49:00 AM PDT  
Blogger lindaweaverfamily said...

Vegetables are great, but the Heart Start Defibrillator is better (At saving your life, that is ;) ).

November 8, 2005 at 7:49:00 PM PST  

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