OK so, let’s generalize about eating veggies. We’ve covered some specific eats and styles of cooking, but big picture, what to do? Here’s a few thoughts.
AKA, fancy French word for raw! Raw veggies are wonderful, and there’re few better methods to get great flavor from them: Crudité veggies are usually prepped and cut to bite size, which is nice for your diners, given the robust textures involved. While crudité veggies are usually done as an appetizer, they needn’t be held to just that: If you’re doing a multi-course meal, consider a crudité course between others as a nice palette cleanser. You can certainly add raw veggies to a main course or salad as well. A crudité course typically involves something to dip the veggies in, like a nice olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or a vinaigrette; even super simple things like butter and good salt with fresh radishes is a real treat.
A lot of veggies will turn out grandly if steamed, but not that many folks do it – I’m not sure why, maybe we feel we need special equipment, etc… Truth be told, a steaming basket does do a better job and if you’re truly gonna steam, ya kinda need one: See, to do this correctly, you need a little boiling water turning to steam beneath your veggies, with the rising, moist heat doing the cooking. If your veggies are sitting in boiling water, well, you’re not steaming, OK? Obvious choices to best benefit from this method include sugar snap peas, carrots, artichokes, asparagus, quartered onion or cabbage, and…
Well, let’s face it, boiling is kinda crude in the big picture of things: If you’re preparing nice, delicate, flavorful veggies, why boil ‘em to death if you have options? Answer, don’t, just do the ones that need or want this method. Truth be told, I can’t think of many things other than spuds that really want to be boiled… Yams, maybe turnips… I just can’t think of much more, and truth be told again, most of these will taste, look, and feel better with other methods, such as…
Roasting is cooking with dry heat, which might sound an awful lot like baking because… It is. Either method speaks of cooking with dry heat, with maybe a small amount of fat or liquid; baking usually refers to breads and baked goods, while roasting speaks to eat, fish, poultry, etc. For veggies, roasting is best done in an open pan, (We like glass and stone a lot, but metal’s fine if that’s what you’ve got). Dang near any veggie you want to cook will love being roasted and will reward you with depth and intensity of flavors that’ll knock your socks off. From potatoes to tomatoes and everything in between, try it, you’ll like it. Love asparagus or artichoke steamed? Try ‘em roasted with a drizzle of good olive oil and salt. Roast disparate veggies, (i.e. those that cook at different times), together by varying the cut you use to prepare each veg; for example, cut potatoes and carrots relatively small, while leaving celery, onion and tomato bigger – Balance things right and they all get done at the same time and are juuuuuust right! Roasting absolutely begs for flavor, so indulge, but conservatively – Apply my Golden Rule of Three, (No more than 3 spices, major flavor notes, etc), and have some fun: Olive oil, salt and Oregano; Garlic, lime, dill; thyme, chive, and balsamic vinegar; Salt, Pepper, and Rosemary – get the picture?
Brai… huh?! Oh, trust me, if you don’t know braising, you wanna, for real! Braising means browning food in a fat, and then slow cooking it in a covered, liquid filled container. Do veggies dig this? Is the Pope Austrian? YES!! What are we talking about here? OK, demo time – how about killer root veggies for a nice treat? take potatoes, carrots and beets, cut ‘em into roughly bite sized pieces, and then heat a sauté pan to high with good olive oil in it. Brown the root veggies evenly, then put them in a casserole pan and cover with a bottle of good dark beer, like a Porter or Stout of your choice. Add garlic, salt, pepper, and a shot of Tabasco, and let that mix simmer until the veggies are fork tender, then serve with… Get the picture?
Anyway, there ain’t much right and wrong, just what you like, what you don’t, and what you ain’t tried yet – So try something here you’ve not, and let me know whatcha think!