Tender young carrots, asparagus, radishes and fennel are gently braised and tossed with a green olive pesto.
The very thought of spring brings to mind freshness and lightness. I think of cool breezes, sunny days and the array of beautiful colors just starting to awaken in nature.
Fresh flavors and colors fill the markets and invite themselves home, filling my counter tops and refrigerator to the brim.
Young, tender and vibrantly colored they call to me with their siren song. How can I say no to the slender asparagus, the jewel toned multi-colored carrots and bright pink radishes piled high just begging to be put to good use?
A quick braise and glaze is just the thing for vegetables this fresh and tender. It would be criminal to submit them to the slow torture of being boiled to tasteless mush or drowned in heavy sauce. No, a light touch of butter and garlic seems a much more fitting end.
Braising is a classic French preparation which consists of a quick sauté in fat followed by a brief steam/poach in a small amount of liquid which is then evaporated to create a glaze. The resulting vegetables are still bright, fork-tender and enveloped in the rich flavors of the braising liquid.
Tender carrots, asparagus, radishes and fennel bubble away on the stove, the scent of butter and garlic filling the air. A lid is placed on the pan to trap the moisture and minutes later perfectly tender vegetables emerge, creamy and glistening.
Next comes the glaze which is simply the cooking liquid reduced a few more minutes on the stove and then poured generously over the top.
But that’s not where it ends, next in line is the pistounade. Pistounade is pesto’s French cousin, a combination of pistou and tapenade made with fresh herbs, garlic and green olives. It adds a tangy bright finish that brings everything to life.
Serves Serves 4 to 6
A quick braise of spring vegetables in butter and garlic topped with a green olive pesto.
20 minPrep Time
20 minCook Time
40 minTotal Time
- 60g (about 1/2 cup) green olives, pitted
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon/15ml of fresh lemon juice (the juice of about 1/4 to ½ a small lemon)
- 1 cup Italian parsley leaves, stems removed (about one handful)
- 1 Tablespoon/15g almond flour
- ¼ of sea salt (plus more to taste)
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ¼ cup/ 60ml extra virgin olive oil (plus more if necessary)
- 2 Tablespoons butter (or olive oil for vegan)
- 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 small bunch young carrots (about 1/2 pound), peeled and sliced in two lengthwise
- 1 bunch radishes (about 1/2 pound), green tops removed and sliced in quarters
- 1 small bunch asparagus (about 1/2 pound), bottoms trimmed
- 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, cut into 1/8ths lengthwise
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ½-3/4 cup filtered water
- Place all the ingredients up until the olive oil into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
- Turn to on and slowly drizzle in the olive oil until well incorporated adding more if necessary to make a paste. Set aside and make the braised vegetables.
- (Pistounade can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. This recipe makes more than what you will need for one time. Use leftovers as you would any pesto.)
- Heat the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until just fragrant (don’t brown).
- Add the vegetables to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, until just glazed, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add water cover pan and cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender but still firm, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Remove vegetables from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Turn heat up to medium-high and cook the braising liquid for about 5 minutes to reduce.
- Toss the vegetables with a few spoonfuls of the pistounade and pour the reduced braising liquid over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.