Long Vegetable Cooking

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Long-cooked vegetables will be almost limp, but very
delicious (The “crispy” style started with nouvelle
cruisine in the 1970s), usually served at room
temperature.
They may not look as appealing when in the crispy
state, but many prefer them prepared this way. They
can be served as appetizers, mixed and matched, or
combined with a variety of ingredients.

Eggplant and zucchini slices can be brushed with olive
oil and grilled over a medium-hot fire until tender.
As they come off the grill, you can layer the slices
on a platter with fresh herbs and sprinkle with
vinegar and olive oil.
Or you can take those same slices, add carrot ones to
them, and FRY everything in hot oil until they’re just
brown, then coat with vinegar and fresh herbs. Set
them aside so that the flavors can marinate.

You can grill whole bell peppers until their skins are
shriveled and start to blacken. After the peppers are
cool, peel away the skin and remove the seeds. Slice
the peppers and toss them with sliced garlic, sherry
vinegar, and olive oil.

Eggplant can also be steamed. Cut the eggplant (peeled
or not) into chunks and steam until the flesh is
extremely tender (7-8 minutes). Then toss with garlic
and herbs, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Have you ever tried roasted tomatoes? Slice off the
top third of fresh tomatoes and squeeze out the seeds.
Jam the tomatoes tightly into a well-oiled baking dish
(The tomatoes shrivel and shrink in their own juices,
concentrating the flavor), sprinkle with bread crumbs
(You can grind fresh bread cubes or get a commercially
prepared brand) and add a few drops of olive oil. Bake
at 400 degrees until the crumbs are brown and crusty.

Braising is another long-cooking technique; It not
only develops flavor but absorbs the flavors of other
ingredients cooked with it.

For vegetable braises: Saute onion and garlic in a
little oil (DON’T USE butter; it’ll solidify and
become grainy if the dish is served cool) to build a
flavor base. Now, add the main ingredient.
Cut the veggie in large chunks so it’ll cook long
enough to develop flavor without falling apart. Cook
briefly in the flavoring mixture and add a little
water to start the braising (the veggie will release
its own moisture). Reduce the heat to low and cook
long enough to get the flavor out of the veggie (For a
soft vegetable, this can take only 20 minutes).

Some sort of acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice, is
a major factor of long cooking (Acid content gives the
dish needed “oomph” to avoid feeling flat and heavy).
It’s as important a seasoning as salt. And because
these vegetable dishes are served at room temperature,
they require a bit more seasoning (cold minimizes
flavor, while heat exaggerates it).

As long as you remember to bring these veggie dishes
to room temperature before serving (to bring out
maximum flavor or taste), they can be made hours in
advance of dinner (or even the day before).

Enjoy!
                         

   

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