Monday, September 10, 2012

Cooking Vegetables in Olive Oil

This Summer I cooked a lot of my home grown vegetables in olive oil.  I would pick a few thin, unpeeled Asian eggplants and slice them diagonally about one fourth inch thick and then saute them in a frying pan over low heat in a few tablespoons of olive oil.  I turned them with a fork until lightly browned.  They were then salted and peppered and removed to a dish.  Next I cut yellow squash - Zephyr is my favorite - and slowly cooked them the same way.  They can be eaten hot, or refrigerated and therefore cold, or at  room temperature.  Candy should taste this good!

This Summer I grew some okra.  I tried breading them with cornmeal and frying them, but the crust kept falling off, so I next tried frying the whole pods just like the squash and eggplant, turning them over low heat until a little brown.  So much better!  They can be dipped in salsa, if you like.

Finally, there's greenbeans.  I have never liked them much, but one must make the best of what grows easiest in the garden.  Some years ago one of our workers gave us her Lebanese grandmother's recipe for greenbeans and it is in our cookbook, Vol. I on p.266.  That recipe calls for gently frying a sliced onion in olive oil until lightly caramelized, and then adding the cut up beans together with a pinch of cinnamon and a half teaspoon each of allspice and nutmeg.  Cover the pan and stew until the bean are tender and 'buttery'.  Then at the end add salt and pepper and diced tomatoes.  If you add the tomatoes with the beans, they will not soften as well.  This is so good that I decided to try other seasonings - such as tarragon and dill (both added at the end of cooking).  The important thing is NO water.  Cook these babies in oil alone.  They will be more delicious than you can imagine!

This technique is ideal for vegetables produced in a small home garden.  It is a typically middle eastern technique.  Tamari may be substituted for the salt, and sesame seeds may be added.

Simple.  Perfect. Great snack food. Best with the vegetables grown right there at home!