Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Great summer vegetable trick: Pan-braising

Cam Wester's lineup of things she pan-braised.
I got an email a few weeks ago from reader Cam Wester:

"You were nice enough to reply to an email I wrote you a couple of months ago about your blurb in the paper on pan braising. Just had to show you today's pan-braised effort: Sugar snaps, grape tomatoes, asparagus, chard (to put with some of the tomatoes and some white beans), skinny green beans, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Clearly I was in the mood for vegetables -- and this was just from the grocery store! Can't wait to get to the farmers market!"

I've written about pan-braising several times, but early summer is a good time for a refresher. As you can see from Cam's description, it's an all-purpose cooking method that works for a wide variety of vegetables. When you have a pile of stuff from the garden or a bunch of things you bought because they looked so good, you couldn't resist, this is the technique you need.

Here are my general directions:

1. TRIM the vegetables and cut into large but still bite-size pieces. If they're small, like cherry tomatoes or skinny green beans, leave them whole.

2. PLACE in a skillet with a scant 1/4 cup of water, about 2 tablespoons olive oil and any seasonings you like (salt, pepper, dried herbs, a sprinkling of red pepper flakes or smoked paprika are all favorites of mine).

3. COVER the skillet and bring to a boil. Cook maybe 2 to 3 minutes for a lighter green vegetable such as broccoli or greens, a little longer for something dense like cubed winter squash or root vegetables. You want the vegetables to be just fork-tender.

4. REMOVE the lid and continue cooking for a few minutes until the water has cooked away and what's left is the oil flavoring with the vegetable juices. Stir-fry for a minute and serve.

That's it -- fast and easy, with just a little fat added. Do you have a go-to fast method you love? Add a comment and share. Thanks. And thanks for writing, Cam.


Cam Wester said...

Thanks Kathleen. If I had realized I was going to become famous, I would've put my vegetables in attractive serving dishes instead of recycled Chinese food containers!