Monday, March 26, 2012

Légumes d'Hiver au Vin

When I am in France, looking at le menu, I usually chuckle a bit when reading le menu. Everything has really fancy names, the meat is served avec sa sauce de, or sur son lit de. And often the time spent crafting those fancy sounding titles would have been better spent working on the dishes they serve. Lesson learned: Not everything that sounds fancy, is fancy.

That seems to be the theme for many situations in life. What looks great at first glance may not be so great when looked at closer. Like the first course of studies I started that turned out to be wrong for me. Like the ex who turned out to be not right for me. Like the nice shoes that ended up killing my feet.

Sometimes though, things turn out well when you don't really expect them to. Like when we found this Ethiopian restaurant and now love this cuisine and keep going back for more. Like when I met my boyfriend at university, studying what turned out the wrong path, but the right man. Or when you cook something out of humble ingredients and it turns out beautifully.

This weeks Food Matter Project recipe was Vegetables au Vin with Coq. I actually did not really look at the recipe before I decided what I wanted to do. I was also influence by an article about René Redzepi, the chef of Noma (the famous restaurant) and his idea of cooking vegetables like meat. So for this dish, I started cutting all the vegetables in rather large pieces, searing them in a cast-iron skillet until browned and only then braising them in the oven with white wine. You could use any combination of vegetables you want as long as they keep up well enough for searing and braising. Winter vegetables are suited best though, I'd say. In the recipe I list the vegetables I used, but feel free to use anything you have in your fridge (like I did).

Winter Vegetables braised in White Wine
Inspired by this weeks Food Matters Project recipe.

1/2 celeriac
3-4 carrots
1 fennel bulb
1 large parsnip
1 leek, about 20cm long piece
2 onions
a few cloves of garlic
vegetable oil
a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary

1 cup broth
1 cup white wine

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
Cut the vegetables into large pieces (about walnut size, I'd say, or like ping pong balls). Cut the onions and the fennel into wedges and the leek into rings about the thickness of your thumb. Peel the garlic cloves but leave them whole.
Preheat a tablespoon of oil in a cast-iron skillet on medium heat. Sauté the leeks first, for 3-4 minutes until softened a bit, add a sprinkle of salt. Place them in the dish you want to braise all the vegetables in later (preferably ovenproof, but if you don't have anything suitable, this can also be down on the stove-top).
Then add some more oil if necessary. Sear the onions and fennel wedges until browned. Add another sprinkle of salt. Place them on top of the leek. Again, if necessary, add oil, then start searing the rest of the vegetables. Do not overcrowd the skillet, I did mine in two goes. Sear until browned and lightly salt before finished. Place on top of the fennel and onion. Place the garlic cloves between the other vegetables and tuck in the herbs.
Add about one cup of broth or water and 1 cup white wine. Put the lid on and braise for at least 30 minutes. The vegetables should be cooked but not fall-apart soft.

Serves 4.


  1. Love this classy inspiration... simple and good! :)

  2. Don't you love life's (good) surprises? Those leeks are gorgeous, I always tell my leeks how pretty they are when I saute them. Don't repeat that ;)

    1. I think I inherited this talking to everything from my grandmother. I do the same, I tell my vegetables that they are beautiful, or that I am sorry I let them wilt in the fridge. I probably should not make this public here.

  3. Great idea to use the white wine, it'll still give it a great flavor!

  4. I love a good braised vegetable, and I'm sure my boyfriend will approve of the wine in the braising liquid. I've still never tried celeriac, even though I see it popping up everywhere. It just looks so weird and gnarled, but maybe this weekend!

    Wonderful photos, Lena!

    1. Trying new vegetables, or new ways of cooking them, is always so much fun. If you do try the recipe, or just make something using celeriac, please let me know what you thought of it.

  5. Wow, your vegetarian version looks really killer. Yum!