One potluck after DC at a Margii’ house, one of the dishes was a big bowl of hot fresh vegetables, something I always appreciate on a buffet that is often very heavy on the carbs (lasagna, breads, dal, beans, rice, potatoes, dumplings, spring rolls, quesadillas). But these vegetables were different. They were a simple mixture of vegetables, sliced in what is called julienne, or short grated strips, helping them to cook faster. It was a great colorful vegetable dish for a crowd of 25. The cook had used the food processor since the vegetables were really uniform in size, not like if you cut them by hand, which would be uneven and take hours. (Alternately you can use a mandoline or grate by hand on a box grater.)
As I wandered in the kitchen before dinner while everything was just about ready to serve, I looked into a large, wide soup pot and watched these vegetables cooking. You need to stand and stir them, a combination of sautéing and steaming in their own juices over slow heat, or they will brown on the bottom. You want them just tender, not mushy or over cooked. The time will vary according to how much you are making. You don’t want the vegetables deeper than about 3 inches in a preferably wide cook pot. The aroma is wonderful with the fragrance of the ginger; you want enough to taste it in every bite. Be sure to use the broccoli stems as well; they are the best part. Vary the vegetables by what is available seasonally and you can use any combination and amounts, using this recipe as a guide. If you use a lot of root vegetables, start them cooking first, then add the softer vegetables which will cook faster.
Serves about 8 vegetable lovers as a side dish
About 4 to 6 medium zucchini (12 to 16 ounces), stem end trimmed off, cut into 4 quarters lengthwise
2 to 3 yellow summer squash, stem end trimmed off, cut into 4 quarters lengthwise
2 medium carrots (12 ounces), stem end cut, scrubbed, cut in half lengthwise
1 to 2 medium parsnips (8 ounces) or turnips, stem end cut, scrubbed, cut in half lengthwise or cut into sections that will fit the feed tube
2 heads broccoli, florets cut off and stems peeled
One 12-ounce knob of fresh ginger, broken into sections and peeled
1/3 cup (6 tablespoons) butter, or light olive oil, safflower oil, or plain sesame oil, or combination, as needed
Fine sea salt, to taste
Optional flavor enhancers based on your mood: red pepper flakes, freshly ground black pepper, squeeze of lemon juice, soy sauce, fresh herbs, cheese, toasted nuts
Prepare the vegetables. Fit the food processor with the 3mm (medium) julienne shredding disc. Lay the strips of zucchini in the feed tube and use medium pressure to push into the work bowl. Do the yellow squash next. When the work bowl is full, dump the contents into a large bowl.
Lay the carrots, parsnips or turnip, in the feed tube and use firm pressure to push into the work bowl. Finish with the broccoli, then the ginger. Transfer to the bowl. Toss to mix the vegetables.
Melt the butter or heat the oil in a deep skillet or wide cook pot over medium heat while you are preparing the vegetables. Add the zucchini, squash, carrot, broccoli, and ginger mixture; stir with a wooden spoon or heat-resistant spatula, uncovered, to mix up and coat everything a bit with the oil. Adjust the heat to medium low. Sauté slowly, stirring constantly, until slightly softened, 10 to 15 minutes. Give them a couple three-fingered pinches of salt to taste and serve immediately.