by Tamar Adler
from Fine Cooking #115, pp. 57-61
When people ask me about my style of cooking, I say that it mostly revolves around vegetables, olive oil, heat, and laziness. All four are key to one of my favorite techniques, olive-oil braising, which is almost hands-off: Just drizzle vegetables with good olive oil, add some fresh herbs or other aromatics, and put them in the oven to braise in their own juices. The prep takes only about five minutes, and since the vegetables largely braise themselves, there’s almost no effort involved. The results are vegetables at their best—tender, a little bit caramelized, and fully flavored from the oil and seasonings.
Olive-oil-braised vegetables aren’t just staples in my kitchen; they’re also the cornerstone of many Mediterranean cuisines. They’re widespread in Turkey, where they’re called zeytinagli (from the Turkish word for olive oil) and in Greece, where they’re called lathera (from the Greek for olive oil). In both cultures, they’re served either as meze—small appetizers—or as side dishes. In Italy and Spain, they’re commonly eaten as a light meal, along with good bread for soaking up the seasoned oil.
These vegetables are most delicious served barely warm or at room temperature, so I often make them early in the day for that night’s dinner, or even a day ahead, letting them come to room temperature for an hour or so before eating. They’re terrific on their own as an antipasto or a simple side dish, but I’ve also included suggestions for other ways to use them. No matter how you serve these vegetables, you’ll see that they’re a great argument for the simplest cooking being the most delicious, and an example of how, sometimes, doing almost nothing can be the best thing you can do.
|Olive-Oil-Braised Carrots with Warm Spices|
|Olive-Oil-Braised Leeks with Thyme||Olive-Oil-Braised Fennel with Lemon|
Photos: Scott Phillips