Tender young spring vegetables are quickly braised and then 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 the vegetables emerge, tender 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, the whole thing is then tossed with a fresh green olive pesto made with parsley, garlic and olives. It adds a tangy bright finish that brings everything to life.
A quick braise of spring vegetables in butter and garlic tossed with a green olive pesto.
For the Green Olive Pesto:
- ¼ cup/ green olives, pitted
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon/5ml of fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup Italian parsley leaves, stems removed (about one handful)
- ¼ of sea salt (plus more to taste)
- ¼ cup/ 60ml extra virgin olive oil (plus more if necessary)
For the Braised Vegetables:
- 2 Tablespoons/30ml butter (or olive oil for vegan)
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely minced
- 1 small bunch young carrots (about ½ pound), peeled and sliced in two lengthwise
- 1 bunch radishes (about ½ pound), green tops removed and sliced in quarters
- 1 small bunch asparagus (about ½ pound), bottoms trimmed
- 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, cut into ⅛ths lengthwise
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ½ cup filtered water
Make the Green Olive Pesto:
- Place all the ingredients up until the olive oil into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
- Turn on food processor and slowly drizzle in the olive oil until well incorporated. Set aside and make the braised vegetables.
- (Pesto 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.)
Make the Braised Vegetables:
- Heat the butter or olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook stirring, until just fragrant, about 1 minute (don’t brown).
- Add the vegetables to the pan and season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring for about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add water cover pan and cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender but still firm, about 5 more minutes.
- Remove vegetables from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Turn heat up to medium-high and cook down any leftover braising liquid for a few minutes to reduce by about half.
- Toss the vegetables with a few spoonfuls of pesto and pour the reduced braising liquid over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 264Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 508mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 1g
Nutritional information for recipes contained on this website, such as calories, fat, carbs, etc. are only estimates and are not guaranteed to be accurate.
Sylvie Shirazi is the recipe developer and food photographer behind Gourmande in the Kitchen. For the last 10 years she's been making eating more healthfully easy and accessible with gluten-free, grain-free, paleo and vegan recipes that are free from processed ingredients.