Oh how seductive are Autumn mornings. Full of golden light, rayed so jaw-droopingly beautifully through the leaves. Plants in autumn reach up lovingly to the sun, after months of shrinking away from the heat of summer. Long tendrils holding flowers wave in the breezes and welcome your passing smile — they nod knowingly in that gentle breeze. Chives and spring onions are flowering. Geraniums as red as lipstick. Mint and lemon verbena. Bog sage. Curry leaf. Earlier, my Lemongrass flowered — the first time ever!
How fitting then to find a recipe of matching gentleness, a warm salad of wine poached baby veggies, needing nothing else but the magnificent flavours of plants, leaves, wine and the very best of oils. Yes, Ottolenghi, you understand Autumn.
Are you after other a la Greque dishes? Try Slow Braised Fennel with Chilli, Garlic and Orange, Zucchini a la Grecque, and Parsley Braised with Olive Oil and Tomatoes.
some notes on the dish
Not a fan of mayonnaise, I left it out. I prefer the taste of the vegetables unconfused by other tastes. Some capers scattered over the cooked vegetables rather than in the mayonnaise is a great addition.
[Update: recently I have begun making my Mother’s recipe for Mayonnaise without eggs. It is a mid 1900’s classic, but I quite love it. To this mayo I add lemon juice, a little oil and finely chopped capers. It is gorgeous with this dish.]
A variation is to add some green peppercorns to the poaching liquid, and a couple of juniper berries. These compliment the flavours well. The juniper grounds the dish a little without overwhelming the flavours (use only a couple of berries). And the addition of green peppercorns is wonderful.
Be flexible with the vegetable mix used in the dish, but keep away from strong flavours. Hence the use of baby vegetables. In the recipe below is the fairly standard mix. However, the tiniest of Brussels Sprouts were added, very hesitantly as the flavours can be strong. Teeny tomatoes, halved, were also added right at then end of cooking. Gorgeous. And some halved, small green beans.
Serve this as a separate course, so the gentleness of the vegetables can present itself in all it’s glory.
Gentle Autumn Vegetables a la Grecque | Baby Vegetables Poached in Oil and Wine
Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 2 hours
Serves: 4 — 6, depending on serving size
these are not exact measurements
200g baby carrots, scraped but leave 2 – 3 cm of the tops
100g baby fennel
1/2 or more bunch fine asparagus
100g baby zucchini
150g baby leeks
4 or 5 baby tomatoes
2 Tblspn chopped dill to serve
600ml White wine, neither too sweet or too dry
200ml good, extra virgin olive oil, just over 2/3 cup
150ml lemon juice, about 1 average lemon
2 bay leaves
5 green peppercorns, whole (optional, but don’t use black peppercorns or ground pepper)
2 celery sticks, cut into batons
1/2 onion, halved again
1 tspn salt
Wash the veggies but don’t trim them too much. Leave ends, and some of the stalks/leaves. Cut them longways into halves or quarters, depending on size. Aim for similar sized pieces. Thin veggies like asparagus don’t need to be cut.
Place the wine in a wide pan and boil for 2 or 3 minutes.
Add the other poaching liquor ingredients and simmer gently for a minute. Add the harder vegetables first, ie the carrots and fennel. After 3 or 4 minutes, add the other vegetables and continue to simmer for a further 3 – 4 minutes. In the last minute, add the halved tomatoes.
Now the vegetables should be cooked but still crunchy. Using tongs, lift the vegetables from the poaching liquor onto a deep plate. Spoon some liquor around the vegetables. (You can keep the remaining liquor in the fridge or freezer to use again.)
Garnish with some fronds of dill and some prepared capers.
I love to eat this as it is. If you would like an egg free dressing, make a dressing similar to this cream dressing on German Tomato Salad, adding garlic and more lemon juice.
browse some salad recipes
- Baked Beetroot
- Chickpeas with Ginger Root Salad
- Cucumber, Herbs and Poppy Seed Salad
- Cucumber Salad with Sesame
- Green Olive, Walnut, Pistachio and Pomegranate Salad