Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Vegetables a la Grecque

Vegetables "a la grecque" are cooked in olive oil and lemon juice, then chilled and served cold - who knows if it refers to a method ever used in Greece (the answer is no, according to, but that's what the French mean by it! A plate of these vegetables with a chilled glass of white wine makes a perfect summer appetizer course.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup diced carrot and 1/4 cup diced celery; cook for 4 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add 1 cup dry white wine of your choice (as always I recommend unfiltered/organic, and for this recipe, something French!), along with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil.

Add 1 cup diced seeded plum tomato, 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 1/4 tsp. grated lemon rind (make sure to grate it before you squeeze the lemon!), 1/4 tsp. crushed coriander seeds, 8 crushed mustard seeds, and 2 chopped garlic cloves; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

You can crush the coriander and mustard with the back of a chef's knife, but I actually used my mortar and pestle. The amount of 8 mustard seeds struck me as very odd, since the ones I have, at least, are quite tiny. Still, I fished out 8 and used 8.

Next add 1 cup thinly sliced leek and 2 medium-sized cauliflower heads, cut into large florets. Simmer for ten minutes, covered. As always with leek, slice it first, then rinse in a colander to make sure you get the dirt from all the layers. The cauliflower posed me some difficulty! It seems laziness is becoming the norm in our society, so while I could find pre-chopped cauliflower aplenty, finding cauliflower heads took 3 grocery stores. If you want to go with pre-chopped, I'd say that two medium heads yielded about 6 cups of cauliflower florets.

Next add 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, 1 (8-ounce) package of button (white) mushrooms, and 1 (8-ounce) package of cremini mushrooms. Continue cooking for 5 minutes - I assumed still covered. I removed the stems from both types of mushroom though the recipe didn't specify to, and I also cut any large caps into halves or quarters, so they were all roughly the same size and would cook evenly.

Remove the vegetables from the pan with a slotted spoon (I transferred mine to a 13x9-inch baking dish) and increase the heat so the reserved cooking liquid comes to a boil. Continue cooking until reduced to 1/2 a cup - mine took 6 minutes, though the original recipe said 5, so just eyeball it. A few of the smaller pieces of onion/carrot/tomato etc. were left behind in my broth, but I figured this was okay, too.

Drizzle the reduced cooking liquid over the vegetables. Chill for anywhere from 1 to 4 hours - I picked a middle value and chilled for 2.

Let the vegetables stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving. You'll have about 9, 1-cup servings of 100 calories each. And serve with leftover white wine!

onion $0.92
carrot $0.21
celery $3.39
plum tomato $1.39
lemon $0.50
coriander seeds $5.69
leek $0.65
cauliflower $7.98
button mushrooms $2.79
cremini mushrooms $3.99

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance