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.