Over the years of testing others’ advice on how to prepare vegetables, especially leafy greens: raw, steamed, and boiled, I eventually reverted to the method used by my parents: braising (as well as raw for salads, etc.).
I learned that while leafy greens are rich in minerals, they are all bound-up in oxalates, and cannot be absorbed if eaten raw or steamed. But lightly sautéing them in a good oil or butter/ghee, then adding a bit of water to steam them, breaks up the oxalates, freeing the minerals for absorption, without over-cooking (that would otherwise destroy many of the other nutrients).
Usually I just braise one or two veggies together, sometimes with chopped garlic. But then I saw this amazing recipe that combines many veggies for the braise: shallot and garlic, radishes, asparagus, green peas, plus several herbs. It sounds delicious and I can’t wait to give it a try.
Braised Spring Vegetables, with Herbs
I’ve adapted this recipe from one in the Daily Inter Lake, May 8, 2019 (originally from the cookbook “How to Braise Everything: Classic, Modern, and Global Dishes Using a Time-Honored Technique, Edited by America’s Test Kitchen (1)). Less than 30-minutes to prep and braise. Serves 4 – 6.
I’ve not tried this yet, but I plan to do so soon (as a half-recipe), and will update if needed.
Ingredients & Equipment:
Ingredient amounts in parenthesis are for a half-recipe.
- 1 (1 small) shallot, dry peel removed
- 2 (1) garlic cloves, dry peel removed
- 10 (5) radishes
- 1 lb (½ lb) fresh asparagus
- 2 (1) cups fresh or frozen green peas
- 1-2 Organic lemons (for 2 (1) tsp grated lemon zest)
- 1-2 Organic oranges (for 2 (1) tsp grated orange zest)
- 1 (1 small) bay leaf
- 4 (2) tsp chopped fresh tarragon or other herbs; OR scant 1 ½ tsp, full recipe (¾ tsp, half-recipe) dried herbs if fresh are not available
- 3 (1 – 2) sprigs fresh thyme
- pinch red pepper flakes
- ½ (¼) cup real olive oil
- 1¼ (⅔) cups filtered water
- Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Dutch or French oven, or large cast iron skillet, with lid (2-quart saucepan or small cast iron skillet)
- Prep: Slice shallot and garlic, crosswise into rounds;
- Wash and trim radishes; quarter lengthwise;
- Wash and trim asparagus, then cut into 2-inch lengths.
- If using fresh peas, remove them from the pods, then rinse and set aside; if using frozen peas, keep them frozen until just ready to use them.
- Wash & rinse lemon and orange, then grate the rind. Save the fruit for another use, such as accent for a greens salad, or mixed into a fruit salad.
- Rinse and lightly dry fresh herbs; chop the tarragon, trim the thyme sprigs. Leave bay leaf whole.
- Braise: Heat olive oil in Dutch/French oven or skillet over medium low heat. Add prepped shallot and garlic, thyme sprigs and red pepper flakes, and cook until shallot is softened, about 2 minutes. Alternative: Can add asparagus to the mix, to saute a bit in the oil, then remove before the next step (8). Then add back in step 9.
- Stir in prepped radishes, lemon and orange zest, bay leaf, and 1 tsp (½ tsp) unrefined sea salt, and water. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook gently until radishes can be easily pierced with tip of paring knife, 3 – 5 minutes.
- Stir in prepped asparagus, cover and cook until tender, another 3 – 5 minutes.
- Finish: Off heat, stir in peas, cover, and let sit until heated through about 5 minutes.
- Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf.
- Stir in tarragon and season with salt and pepper to taste.
5/12/19: test half recipe. Too early for fresh herbs here in NW Montana, so using frozen versions of thyme, and dried tarragon, red pepper flakes. Didn’t quite get ½ tsp zest from 1 orange or lemon, but I used what I got (more like ⅜ tsp each). Otherwise as written. Radishes are fairly large, so took 8 min to test tender. Asparagus are large (diameter), so took 8 min to test “just tender.” Off-heat, added peas, and rest 8 min until tender. Only have dried tarragon so used ¾ tsp (ratio is 1 tsp dried is equivalent to 3 tsp fresh). Result: It’s beautiful! and delicious. The half-recipe made enough for 3 servings as a side dish. However, I like to salute the asparagus in oil before adding water, so next time, I’ll salute the asparagus with the shallot/garlic slices, then remove the asparagus to add for the final cooking (before add peas).