Braised Spring Vegetables, with Herbs


By Cat, May 2019 (image, right, from Wikimedia Commons, and below left from Wikimedia Commons)

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.).

Green Asparagus at Market

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.

See also: 1. Sides & Condiments Menu; 2. Basic Braised Greens (About)

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.

  • Prep:
  • 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)
  • Herbs:
  • 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
  • Braise:
  • ½ (¼) cup real olive oil
  • 1¼ (⅔) cups filtered water
  • Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Equipment
  • Dutch or French oven, or large cast iron skillet, with lid (2-quart saucepan or small cast iron skillet)


  1. Prep: Slice shallot and garlic, crosswise into rounds;
  2. Wash and trim radishes; quarter lengthwise;
  3. Wash and trim asparagus, then cut into 2-inch lengths.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Rinse and lightly dry fresh herbs; chop the tarragon, trim the thyme sprigs. Leave bay leaf whole.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Stir in prepped asparagus, cover and cook until tender, another 3 – 5 minutes.
  10. Finish: Off heat, stir in peas, cover, and let sit until heated through about 5 minutes.
  11. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf.
  12. Stir in tarragon and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Serve.


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).


  1. Penguin Random House:

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