Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vegetable Pot-au-Feu

One of my favorite cookbooks is Dorie Greenspan's Baking:  From My Home to Yours.  The recipes are rich, comfort food, gift worthy desserts.  I've worked my way through it, particularly the scones/muffins section and the cookies section.  I've attempted a few of her cakes with good results.  It's a book that has a permanently reserved space on my top-tier cookbook shelf.

A few years ago, Dorie (we're on a first name basis, you know?) came out with a new cookbook, Around my French Table.  I hemmed and hawed over whether or not I should buy it and I eventually decided against.  It just sounded too fancy.  I perused it at the bookstore and most of the recipes were heavy on meat, making it just a company cookbook (not an everyday cookbook, since we eat meatless at least half the week or more most weeks).  I finally realized I could check this book out of the library.

My expectations were more or less correct.  I found a handful of recipes I wanted to try, but not enough to warrant buying the book, at least not now.

This recipe is the exception.  In this vegetable pot-au-feu, vegetables have a starring role and it is a main dish (most of the vegetarian recipes in this cookbook are relegated to side dishes).  We loved it, M and Curtis especially.  I made poached eggs to serve in it, and learned for next time, the kids would rather go eggless.  That makes it even easier!

I made this in a wok, like Dorie suggested, but a dutch oven or soup pot would work just as well (and I'll probably use that next time).  Dorie also said this wasn't good leftovers--don't tell that to M!

This serves 4 - 6.

Vegetable Pot-au-Feu
adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Around my French Table.

2 T olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small to medium onion, thinly sliced
1 leek, halved lengthwise and well rinsed, sliced
3 medium potatoes (6 small), sliced 1/4" thick
2 - 4 small to medium carrots, cut on the diagonal into 1/4" slices
3 c water (can also use vegetable or chicken stock)
1 2-inch piece lemongrass, split lengthwise
8 - 12 asparagus stalks, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2" pieces
4 - 6 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1/2 lb spinach, chard, or kale, stemmed, washed, and coarsely sliced
4 large eggs, hardboiled or poached
slices of crusty bread, toasted

Heat the olive oil over medium hat.  Add the onion and leek, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until they just begin to soften, about five minutes.  Toss in the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Stir in the potatoes and carrots, followed by the water and lemongrass.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered, until the vegetables are almost tender, about 10 minutes.  (While the vegetables are simmering, you can cook the eggs).  Add the asparagus and shiitake mushrooms to the vegetables and cook for an additional 4 minutes, or until tender.  Stir in the spinach (or other greens) and cook until  spinach (or greens) are slightly wilted.  Spinach will take about 2 minutes, chard slightly longer, and kale even longer.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.

To serve, place a slice of toasted crusty bread in a bowl.  Ladle soup over top and slice in the egg.  Serve immediately (I found it easiest to serve at the counter, not on the table).

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