Sunday, 16 June 2013

Interesting Ways to Serve Four Everyday Veg

Of course these five very fine vegetables (well more accurately veg and fruit) can be served simply and quickly, as often I do. But sometimes it's good to add this and that to make the flavour more complex, so here are my ideas for four of the current selection in my fridge and veg rack. (There are more - broccoli and leeks for example. But that's for another time.)

Quantities are not given for all recipes, as ratios are not always that important.

Ah, spinach. Often served overcooked and not properly drained - no wonder it's disliked by many. I love it though, and it grows profusely once established. 

Spinach with Goat Cheese, Walnuts and Nutmeg
Nutmeg is optional but lovely.
1  For larger leaves, fold at the stem and slice off any thick bits. Use a good handful of
          leaves per person. Wash, then chop roughly.
2 Put just a few drops of water in a pan and add the leaves. Simmer very gently for about
          4 minutes until wilted, then drain well, pressing the leaves to remove max water.
3 Replace in the pan and add some goat cheese - about a heaped teaspoon per portion -
          together with a tablespoon of chopped walnuts and half a teaspoon of grated
          nutmeg each.
4  Warm through over a gentle heat, stirring. Add black pepper if that appeals, too.
∆               ∆               ∆               ∆               ∆

Mushrooms and garlic - a match made in the kitchen. This recipe serves 3-4 as a side. 
The quantity of mushrooms looks large, but they shrink while cooking.

Baked Mushrooms in Garlic Butter
1  Wipe 500g evenly-sized mushrooms, preferably open cup (i.e. lots of gills showing).
          Remove and save the stalks, trimming off the lower end.
2  Crush or finely chop 4 large peeled garlic cloves and put in a basin with 150g melted
          butter, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley 
          (or 1.5 of dried). Mix well.
3  Put the mushrooms, open side up, in a roasting pan together with the stalks. Use the
          butter mixture  to fill the mushrooms and top the stalks. Grind black pepper over.
4  Bake at 175C for about 15 minutes until the butter is bubbling and the mushrooms
          look done.
∆               ∆               ∆               ∆               ∆

Red, yellow, green and orange peppers are all lovely roasted, but for the recipe below I wouldn't use green.

Honey-Glazed Roasted Peppers
1  Halve one pepper per person - yellow, red or orange or a mix - and remove stalks, 
          seeds and pithy spines. Cut into strips very roughly 5x2cm.
2  Place in a roasting tin with a little olive or rapeseed oil and stir them around to coat.
3  Roast at 175C for 10 minutes, then drizzle a little clear honey over the pieces and
          return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
∆               ∆               ∆               ∆               ∆

Finally, the humble but sweet and lovely pea. This is my favourite way with them, and the recipe serves 2.

French-Style Peas
1  Melt a good knob of butter in a small pan.
2  Peel and chop a medium onion, then fry gently in the butter until soft - about 7-8 mins.
3  Trim and roughly shred a little gem lettuce (or equivalent cos) and add to the pan,
          frying gently for another 2 mins.
4  Stir in 40ml of stock or white wine, and bring up to a simmer.
5  Add two handfuls of frozen peas or petit pois and simmer 5 more mins.
6 Stir in a little black pepper and half a teaspoon of sugar and heat through.

And that's it. Always worth messing about with vegetables to see which combinations appeal. I like to add toasted flaked almonds or pine nuts to veg generally, but once in a while, a lightly cooked carrot served just with a dob of Flora hits the spot. What am I saying?!