Vegetables à la Grecque
A couple of months ago, I came across an article in the New York Times that focused on a French dish called Vegetables à la Grecque. It’s essentially lightly poached vegetables served at room temperature or slightly chilled, with a savory sauce that somewhat resembles a pickling liquid. That launched me on a research quest, which turned up a bounty of variations, and convinced me that as soon as the local farmer’s market is in full swing, I’ll be making this a mainstay dish for summer lunches and dinners.
Vegetables à la Grecque, despite the name, has nothing to do with Greece, but refers to a French imagining of Greek “style” food. The methodology is the same across the dozens of recipes I uncovered in my research. Whatever fresh vegetables are at hand are simmered in a liquid made up of olive oil, white wine, vinegar and sometimes vegetable stock. The only trick is to time the adding of the vegetables to the liquid to make sure they’re done properly — cooked but still a little bit firm when you bite them. This isn’t much of a problem, since the dish is intended to be served cool.
This version uses things I could find in early spring — carrots, mushrooms, kohlrabi, artichoke heart, and cauliflower. As they become available, I’ll swap in things like green beans or wax beans, pearl onions, and maybe even top it with some fresh tomato wedges. It’s going to be fun.
Note: You can make this a day ahead and refrigerate. It gets better the longer the vegetables sit in the poaching liquid.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 tsp. black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 Tbsp. lightly crushed coriander seeds
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 tsp. fresh oregano
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme
- 1/2 lb. carrots, cut into stick about 2 inches long
- 1 1/2 cups cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 cup kohlrabi, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 cup cremini mushrooms, quartered
- 1 cup artichoke hearts, fresh or frozen
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Parsley, chopped, for garnish
- Combine olive oil, vinegar, wine, vegetable stock, shallots, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf, fennel and coriander seeds, oregano and thyme in a 4-quart saucepan and bring to a quick simmer (just bubbling), then reduce heat and cook for 20-30 minutes.
- When the poaching liquid is ready, cook each of the vegetables separately at a low simmer, and remove them to a glass or plastic bowl. The vegetables should be cooked, but still firm.
- When all the vegetables are cooked, turn up the heat under the saucepan and reduce the liquid by at least half or until it coats the back of a spoon.
- Pour the reduced liquid over the vegetables cover and set aside to cool, or refrigerate overnight.
- Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled, sprinkled with chopped parsley.
- Can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.