When You Don't Have Time to Cook But You Still Want a Home-Cooked Meal, Do This!
When you're tired and hungry, it seems easier to stop for take-out on the drive home, order in or nuke those Trader Joe's frozen Shrimp Soft Tacos you bought last week.
But with a little effort (not much) and even less time (minutes), you can prepare two easy-to-make vegetable dishes that combine well with a charred steak, sautéed tofu or roasted chicken breasts which cook in no time at all.
Salt boiling cooks vegetables quickly. Cook them as little as possible so they have a crisp, fresh taste. Like pasta, vegetables should be eaten al dente, with a little firmness.
How long a vegetable should be cooked depends on its density and the size of the pieces being boiled. A 1" zucchini round will cook faster than a 1" carrot round. A 2" carrot round takes longer to cook than does a 1" carrot round.
Adding kosher salt to the water gives the vegetables a sweet-salty flavor.
Another easy-to-master technique is oven roasting vegetables. As with salt-boiled vegetables, they should be cooked al dente. How long the vegetables take to cook depends on the density of the vegetable and the size of the pieces.
carbon steel pan. Before baking, toss the cut fingerlings with Italian parsley, olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
If you enjoy onions, sprinkling a handful of finely sliced onions or shallots over the vegetables before baking adds a delicious sweetness.
Buy broccoli that is deep green in appearance. Do not use broccoli with yellow florets or ones that feel limp because that means they are old and will not taste good.
Use only kosher salt or sea salt. Do not use iodized salt because of the metallic after-taste.
Time to prep: 5 minutes
Time to cook: 3 minutes
2 tablespoons kosher salt
4 large broccoli crowns, enough to make 10 cups, washed, stem ends trimmed
Using a pairing knife, cut the florets (the bud or flower of the broccoli) off the stem. Cut each floret in half and set aside. Using a chefs knife, cut the stem into slabs, 1/2" thick, 1" long. Set aside.
Add kosher salt to 4 quarts water and bring to a boil.
Place stems in boiling water first. Cover. Cook 1 minute.
Add floret halves to water. Cover. Cook exactly 2 minutes.
Strain broccoli in the sink. Place cooked broccoli into bowl and serve.
Oven Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
If fingerling potatoes are not available, baby Yukon or Sierra Gold potatoes are also good.
Time to prep: 5 minutes
Time to cook: 30 minutes
2 pounds fingerling potatoes, washed
1 cup Italian parsley, washed, leaves only, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion or 4 large shallots, skins, stems and root ends removed, washed, cut into thin slices
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400F.
Line a large baking sheet with a Silpat sheet.
Cut each potato in half, the long way, then into 2" pieces. Place them in a mixing bowl with the olive oil. As the cut potatoes are added to the bowl, toss to coat with olive oil to prevent discoloration.
When all the potatoes are in the bowl, add parley and onions. Toss well. Season with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Spread on the Silpat sheet lined baking sheet so the pieces have some room. They will acquire more browning if they are not piled on top of one another.
Place in oven.
After 15 minutes, toss for even cooking. Check after another 15 minutes. Toss. Taste. Adjust seasoning and cook longer if needed. When the potatoes are cooked through but not too soft, serve hot with a protein. The potatoes are delicious with a grilled steak, sautéed fish filet or charred chicken breast.