Monday, February 22, 2010

stir crazy

We are in the home stretch here for Winter. That's what I'm trying to tell myself at any rate. In fact it will still be weeks before the Green Markets in NYC are showing any new produce. Hang in there! It will be worth the wait when the first lettuces and chives and radishes hit the market.

Until then...
Looking at the same old stuff and in an effort to generate some excitement I try to shake things up with a little knife action. I want to make a very simple vegetable dish that is pretty and flavorful enough to combat the end of winter blues.

The idea is to chop the vegetables small, into what I call a rough julienne cut, then quickly blanch them. For the next step you toss everything together in a pan with seasoned oil and thats it!
Cut everything relatively the same size, narrow strips on an angle. Blanch each vegetable in salted boiling water for one or two minutes until tender but still crunchy. I like to blanch each type of vegetable separately because a carrot will be done in 30 seconds while a green bean can take two minutes. This way all the vegetables are cooked to their perfect doneness. I use one large pot of boiling water and fish out each batch of the cooked vegetables with a spider before dropping the next batch in.

My beloved spider, purchased in Chinatown years ago.

To make the seasoned oil: Finely mince as much garlic as you like and saute briefly in olive oil and/or butter. Add chopped fresh herbs and any other seasoning you are in the mood for. I had some fresh thyme on hand. Then add all the vegetables into the pan and toss to coat with the seasonings. Serve right away. The vegetables will have some crunch and a savory goodness. 

This technique accomplishes a few things: you can combine odds and ends of vegetables and season them any way you like AND it makes everything seem new again (well a little anyway.)

Amanda what are we going to sip with this spirit-lifting solution to a cold drab day?

Sauvignon Blanc is the way to go. To be more specific, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. When grown in NZ, the grape exhibits a grassy, herbaceous, vegetal character. It's also been known to display aromas of asparagus. Because of its herb-nuanced flavor, it is a perfect match for vegetables in general (especially green vegetables). Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand are extremely crisp and lively, which will help "lift the spirit" on a cold, dreary day! 

Kono Sauvignon Blanc is a good choice at $9.99 per bottle. The wine comes from the cooler region of Marlborough, which results in a wine full of citrus, gooseberry and stonefruit flavors. (Sauvignon Blancs from warmer climates have more richness of fruit). 

Also look to the Loire Valley in France for some wonderful Sauvignon Blanc options. A favorite producer is Pascal Jolivet. Also, be sure to pick out a recent vintage. Jolivet's Sancerres are typically youthful and racy with great balance and elegance.

I agree with Deb - I am so ready for Spring! This recipe and wine pairing is ideal to "set the mood" for the impending warmer weather! I am in a Springtime State of Mind!

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