Pascale's kitchen: Just vegetables

Recipes for those who love vegetables and to help include a few at each meal.

By PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN
November 17, 2016 17:36
Potatoes recipe

Small potatoes with rosemary and thyme. (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Whenever I see talented chefs working excitedly in the kitchen, I just melt. I’m absolutely mesmerized by the way they interact with raw vegetables, handle their knives, and chop so quickly. Sometimes it almost seems like the knife isn’t even touching the cutting board.

Maybe you remember watching your mother and grandmother chopping vegetables, how they developed their own techniques for chopping quickly and efficiently that were probably just as good as professional chefs today.

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They could cut tomatoes while holding them in their hands right over a pot of boiling sauce. Sometimes they would prepare herbs with a mortar and pestle or a curved millstone. Today, many chefs understand the importance of preparing herbs the old-fashioned way, since this brings out their best flavors.

I happen to love vegetables and try to include a few at each meal. And since I have a lot of experience trying to convince kids to eat their vegetables, I’ve accumulated a number of tricks that even little people can’t help but love.

For example, if you cut the vegetables in unusual shapes and combine interesting colors, you’ll find that kids will actually help themselves to these dishes without you even having to offer. I love to cut vegetables in eighths, big squares, or sometimes even leave them whole (especially root vegetables). If you leave the pieces on the larger side, it’s easier to protect the vegetables’ texture.

If you want to save on prep time, you can rinse the vegetables the day before.

If you want the vegetables to keep their color intact, you can soak them in a large bowl of water. I don’t overwhelm the vegetables with spices or sauces either.

And one more thing – if you cook the vegetables in the oven, they will retain more of their nutritional value.


Small potatoes with rosemary and thyme

Using bags of small potatoes that are easily bought in the store makes this dish very easy and quick to prepare. There’s no need to peel or cut the potatoes. All you need to do is add a few spices and then put them in the oven. I recommend using sprigs of rosemary or thyme – two very distinct flavors.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients:
■ 1 bag of small potatoes
■ 3 to 4 sprigs of rosemary or thyme
■ 8 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
■ Ground chili pepper
■ Ground black pepper
■ Coarse salt to taste
■ Quality olive oil

Directions:
Rinse and dry the potatoes and slice them in half. Place them in a bowl and add the thyme or rosemary. Sprinkle the garlic, pepper and salt on the potatoes. Pour a generous amount of olive oil on them and mix well. Transfer to a tray that is covered with baking paper.

Bake at 180º to 190° for 30 minutes. Stir the potatoes and then bake them for another 5 to 10 minutes until they’re crispy on all sides.


Spicy quartered potatoes

This dish is very easy to prepare and smells heavenly due to the grated orange peel. You can make this recipe with a variety of vegetables, such as fennel. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients:
■ 3 to 4 potatoes, with skin still on, washed and cleaned
■ 1 Tbsp. harissa
■ ½ tsp. cumin
■ ¼ tsp. ground coriander
■ ½ tsp. orange peel, grated
■ Salt and pepper to taste
■ ¼ cup olive oil

Directions:
Wash and clean potatoes well. Don’t peel them. Put them in a pot of water over a medium flame for 10 minutes and then rinse them in cold water. Cut them into quarters or eighths.

Place them in a bowl and then add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning. Transfer to a tray and bake at 200° for 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 180° and bake for another 15 minutes.


Baked cauliflower

There’s no need to cut the cauliflower – I leave it whole. In fact, I don’t even cut off the leaves. It’s best to pick a cauliflower that is round and healthy looking. When it’s done cooking, I serve it straight from the oven on a bed of vegetables, or even still wrapped in baking paper. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients:
■ 1 to 2 cauliflowers
■ 1 tsp. salt

Seasoning:
■ Olive oil
■ Coarse salt and pepper, to taste
■ A bunch of dried herbs, any kind will do
■ Dried garlic (optional)
■ Ground chili pepper

Directions:
Soak the cauliflower in a solution of water with salt and vinegar until you’re ready to cook it.

In a tall, wide pot, pour in enough water to cover cauliflower.

Place cauliflower in pot with base sticking up. Bring to boil. Add the salt and boil for 15 minutes.

Carefully remove cauliflower and place it on a work surface.

Carefully rub it with olive oil and then sprinkle on salt, pepper, herbs and garlic. Cover a tray with baking paper and then place cauliflower on tray. Broil cauliflower in oven at 220º to 250° for a few minutes until crispy. Serve warm.


Spicy carrot strips

Cut the carrots into 1-cm. thick strips. Seasoning is minimal – just add a little harisa or pilpelshuma (Libyan style spicy garlic sauce). This tantalizing combination of the sweet carrots with the spicy sauce is delicious. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients:
■ 5 to 6 carrots, cut into quarters
■ 2 Tbsp. harisa or pilpelshuma
■ 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
■ Olive oil
■ Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Place the carrot strips in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Transfer to a pan. Cover with baking paper and then aluminum foil. Close foil tightly around edges and cook in oven at 200° for 30 minutes.

Lower the temperature to 180° and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove foil and paper and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes – watch to make sure it doesn’t burn – until crispy.


Roasted potatoes


This recipe is quick, simple and tasty. It involves cutting the potatoes into an interesting shape that opens like a fan during cooking. Kids will love the oregano flavor. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients:
■ Olive oil
■ Coarse salt, to taste
■ Oregano, to taste
■ Ground pepper, to taste

Directions:
Peel the potatoes. Cut slices in them, but not all the way through to the end (like a fan).

Place them on a baking tray. Drizzle generously with olive oil, oregano and pepper (or any herbs that you like). Drizzle a little more olive oil and then cover with baking paper and aluminum foil.

Bake at 220° for 30 minutes. Lower the temperature to 180° and bake for another 20 minutes.

If you like, you can take off paper and foil and cook a few more minutes until potatoes become crispy.


Translated by Hannah Hochner.


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