green vegetables

Beans! Who isn’t sick of beans as the preferred restaurant vegetable? They come in various stages of cooked from hot and still raw, to tough and old, to mushy, to embellished with crushed flaked almonds straight from the bag, to no seasoning either in the water they are cooked or before they are served. Wrong! Wrong! Even frying the blanched flaked almonds in ghee, or dry roasting them in the oven to reinvigorate them and tossing the beans through some lovely herb roasted garlic butter, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and then adding some almonds the beans will be an altered state.
Another really annoying thing is the chef who thinks the diner can’t tell the difference between fresh and frozen peas. Forget the taste which is obvious to anyone with half a palate, but, even if your taste buds are shot, the size is a dead give away because fresh peas come in a myriad of sizes from tiny to large. Wise chefs have a fine mesh basket for peas so as to not lose a single one.
The truth is most chefs, at all levels of cooking have come to neglect vegetables. Part of this may be the loss of seasons and partly because chefs ring their orders through, rarely cruising either the Adelaide Central Markets, farmers’ markets or the Pooraka Wholesale Markets. It means they never find the small parcels of treasure like the baby green squash we found at Wilson’s Organics a couple of weeks ago. They were exquisite. Served with julienned large zucchini (a trick we have found useful to get everyone to eat them) and peas we tossed the vegetables through well-seasoned roasted garlic and herb butter and were rewarded with undeserved gratitude from the diners.
The point is one doesn’t need large quantities of any vegetable when serving a variety of vegetables and they don’t have to be excessively expensive if you make a good mix of prices. Peas might be around $10 per kilo and the actual yield is just under 50%, meaning the actual price is about $20, but 20g costs 40 cents and adds a wonderful dimension without breaking the bank. One of the cheapest and easiest to prepare Iceberg lettuce, dunked for about a minute in boiling salted water with a good splash of EV olive oil it will be hot and tasty and crunchy all at the same time. Portioned into wedges, with a few peas lobbed on top it is a fast and inexpensive interpretation of a classic French dish made with butter lettuce.
The generation who detested Brussels sprouts because they were always cooked to nasty mush has been replaced with a generation that has grown up with a different style of cooking and a preference for vegetables less cooked. Little Brussels, clean up, crossed scored at the stalk end, cooked in boiling salted water with a big splash of EV olive oil until just tender, drained and immediately tossed through a little more EV olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper and a touch of freshly grated nutmeg are heavenly. Another favourite Brussels method, fry some fatty traditionally made pancetta until crisp. Remove from the pan and add a couple of finely chopped shallots and a little splash of EV olive oil and season lightly with salt (because the pancetta is a bit salty) and generously with freshly ground black pepper and cook until they are softened. Add prepared tiny Brussels, stir over for a few minutes, add ˝ a cup of water and cover with a lid and turn the heat up for a couple of minutes to soften them slightly, then finish cooking on high heat until the water has evaporated and the Brussels are cooked. Add a splash of EV olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice a little more pepper and tip into a serving bowl. Break up the pancetta and scatter over the top.

tossing lightly steamed squash (of any colour through a little EV olive oil and some green sauce (salsa verde)