I apologise in advance for this post, I’m terribly disorganised this week and have no photos to accompany it despite having decided on the topic a while ago. I thought however, that it seemed an appropriate topic given L’s recent bogan food post and vegetable side dishes have been on my mind lately – thrilling I know. There are a few reasons why I’ve been pondering the whole idea of vegetable side dishes, firstly as I’ve been making my way through Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meal I’ve been exposed to a whole new world of side dishes and salads, secondly I’m growing so many more vegetables than I use to and want to make the most of them, thirdly it’s now much cooler so my mind turns to hot vegetables rather than cold salads to serve with dinner and lastly my standard practice of throwing a random selection of vegetables in the microwave steamer and vap for a minute or two (often over cooking some and under cooking others) has grown exceptionally dull. Wow, that’s quite a confession for someone who CLAIMS to be a foodie, but it’s sadly true. I think a lot about the meat/fish component of a meal, and do something vaguely interesting with potatoes, but unless the other vegetables are included in the meal I forget about them until I’m just about ready to serve up and fall back on my throw and vap method. Is it any wonder Miss Three isn’t a big fan of vegetables. Anyway, I’ve found a few more exciting ways of serving vegies (although a lot of them fit into L’s definition of bogan, ie covered in some sort of dairy product), enough to make up a top five list. But really I’m just looking for more ideas, so please share, especially if they’re quick and possibly a little healthier than my options.
1. French style peas (Jamie Oliver)
This was a real revelation for me for one reason – cooked lettuce, who knew? So basically it goes like this: add a knob of butter to a hot pan (even better if you’ve already cooked chicken in that pan) with a tablespoon of flour and 300ml of chicken stock and torn mint leaves. Whisk until smooth and bubbly, add 480g frozen peas (obviously adjust the quantities to suit, this serves 6) and two gem lettuce, sliced. I don’t know what a gem lettuce is so I substituted a large butter lettuce and it worked fine (not sure iceberg would be as good, but who knows?). Squeeze over half a lemon, add a splash of boiled water and season with salt and pepper, stir and cover (I think I turned the heat down here, but the recipe doesn’t specify that). Prepare these toward the end of the meal cooking time and by the time you have everything else ready the peas will be cooked.
2. Steamed Greens with toasted almonds (CSIRO Total Well Being Diet Book 1)
Sometime in my past I’ve toyed with the CSIRO diet, mostly for Mr Good’s sake, but I also enjoyed the meals on the whole. Sadly it’s not really a sustainable diet for a working couple (which we were at the time), let alone a busy family, because there is just too much preparation for every meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner plus snacks) and not much can be done ahead. Despite this we do revisit a number of these recipes and this is one of them. It’s simply a matter of steaming a selection of greens (asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, beans and sugar snap peas are the ones in the book, but I think you could use any that you had on hand). Once they’re steamed – some might take longer than others – toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle over toasted almonds.
3. Buttered Grated Beetroot (Stephanie Alexander)
This was a discovery made during my first successful beetroot crop, it’s delicious, fast (unlike a lot of cooked beetroot recipes) and very easy though as with all beetroot recipes it has a tendency to stain your hands red so you might want to wear gloves… or just go with the red hand look as I did. Grate 300g (or whatever you have/need) of beetroot and add to a small saucepan with 40g butter, a tablespoon of water and two teaspoons of red wine vinegar. Cook, covered for about 8 minutes stirring every now and again. Once the beetroot is tender, uncover, turn the heat up to high and boil off the extra liquid. Season and serve, the beetroot should still be just a little bit crisp.
4. Braised cabbage with tomato and bacon (Mum’s recipe)
I remember this one from my childhood, I think my Mum just made it up but I think it works. I’ve also done it with baby brussel sprouts which worked equally well. Cook shredded cabbage in butter and a little vegetable stock until it softens and the liquid has evaporated. Add bacon and cook for another few minutes, then throw in chopped tomato and cook until heated through. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
5. Creamed Spinach (Jamie Oliver)
This one’s for you L, I too love creamed spinach (or silverbeet as I used recently), but have only discovered it in the last few months. Jamie’s version involved frying off a bunch of spring onion (in the 30 minute meals book he uses a lot of spring onion instead of brown onion because it cooks faster and for the record I only used half a bunch) with three cloves of garlic, crushed. Add a dash of boiled water, the picked leaves of a few sprigs of thyme, a 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg and a knob of butter. Leave to cook for about three minutes, then pile in 400g baby spinach (or baby silverbeet) and cook until wilted – you might have to do this in two batches. Stir so it doesn’t catch at the bottom. Pour in 100ml of cream, turn down to low and grate in 25g of Parmesan cheese. Stir well and serve.
I’m happy with the variety here, but seriously where are the carrots! Considering I always have carrots on hand, I don’t really have any interesting ways of serving them. This would have been such a better post with photos, sorry folks, next week I’ll try to lift my game.
I have been over to see what Liz is up to with her list, but it’s worth checking out I’m sure.