last post, Kavey wrote "Would love you to post some more about your vegetable braise recipe, or guidelines. Not done that before, I think."
As it happens, I was planning to do a post on the veg, because it is a really good technique. But I am delighted to turn this into an Ask Foodycat, in order to have an excuse to use the picture. Lovely Mac, the beautiful boy in the picture, has recently left us, which is going to leave a terrible gap when I go back to Oz next month.
So, to the vegetables (the cooking thereof Mac knew nothing about, although he was very keen on helping in the veggie garden). It's similar to the spring vegetable stew I have blogged about before, but I'll give a specific recipe this time! It's very adaptable to whatever is in season though.
Braised veg (serves 4 as a side dish)
Knob of butter
1 large leek, thoroughly washed and chopped
150g broad beans (podded & peeled weight)
350g asparagus, cut into inch long pieces
1 baby gem lettuce, cut into shreds
250ml vegetable stock
handful of mint, sliced into a chiffonade
Melt the butter in a shallow pan that has a lid. When it starts to foam, add the leek and soften gently for about 10 minutes. If you are trying to be organised, this is a good point to get to early on in the day, then you can turn off the heat, leave the lid on and let it wait for your convenience.
Add the broad beans, peas and the asparagus stalks (hold the tips back) and vegetable stock and simmer with the lid on for about 5 minutes. Then add the shredded lettuce and asparagus tips. This is another good point to turn the heat off and let things wait if you need to! Otherwise, simmer another few minutes with the lid off until the asparagus tips are tender, the lettuce is wilted and the stock is reduced to a light sauce around the veg.
Sprinkle with the mint, season with black pepper.
For a vegetarian main course, toss through some orecchiette and top with grated parmesan or combine with boiled new potatoes and chunks of a melty cheese.
Outside asparagus season use some fine green beans, or baby courgettes. Maybe use sliced, fresh artichoke hearts or some spring or savoy cabbage leaves (add cabbage towards the end, sliced very finely - if I use cabbage I add a grating of nutmeg). I wouldn't use fennel because it overpowers everything else, but most other green veg are fair game. If you have what some people know as "leftover white wine" or a bit of vermouth, you can use half wine and half stock later in the year when the veg is less beautiful.