Cooking vegetables in my mother’s generation meant boiling them until they gave up. I am an eldest child, my partner is a youngest, so his mother was a generation older. Her version of chokos was boiled until they liquified. No wonder as kids we weren’t great fans of vegetables!
It is amazing how much food culture we learn, for good and bad, as children. Few of us boil veggies silly these days, but still the tendency is to serve them, more often than not, steamed or boiled as a side dish.
Nowadays I quite often make a meal that features vegetables as the main, not the side dish, and I very rarely use any water that will be drained off. If you garden, fresh vegetables are so gorgeous that it is hard to improve on just serving them as themselves. One of the very first posts I did in this blog was Roast Vegetables as Themselves. This time of year, there are so many greens so perfectly in season that greens as themselves are worth a recipe.
This is the way I most commonly cook green veggies, as a side dish and quite often as the main with some haloumi sticks or good bread on the side.
Very simply, use very fresh broccoli flowerettes, peas, snow peas, celery, silver beet, kale, zucchini, and or any other green vegetables in season. Trim them and put them in a pot with a tight fitting lid. Add a little swig of olive oil or a small knob of butter and just a little pinch of salt. If you like, crush in a couple of cloves of garlic and a good grating of black pepper.
Squeeze in some lemon juice – for this bowl of greens I used the juice from half a small lemon. Add a very small amount – a dessertspoon or so – of water.
Put the lid on the pot and cook for about 3 minutes. Every 20 seconds or so, hold the lid on tight and give the pot a good shake. Try not to peek or you will let the steam escape. Ideally by the time they are cooked there is just a nice little amount of juice as sauce and a hint of caramelisation in the pot.
Like the roast vegetables, it really needs nothing else. With some fingers of haloumi cheese and some good bread this is a meal all on its own, and it’s really worth just appreciating vegetables as themselves.