One of our favorite ways to bridge the gap between winter and spring is with a bowl of mellow, creamy, soft-cooked vegetables. Broccoli rabe, celery, green beans, and other vegetables undergo a miraculous transformation when cooked for long periods of time in slow-simmering water: they turn sweet and luxurious, with an incomparably luscious texture. Here are 5 of our favorite recipes.
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Cime di Rapa Fritte
Notoriously bitter and tough, broccoli rabe becomes mellow and supple when cooked slowly in a bath of water and olive oil. Simply seasoned with garlic and chile flakes, this Italian home-cooking classic is true comfort food.
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Sedano e Pomodori Brasati
This recipe, adapted from one in Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Alfred A. Knopf, 1992), produces results that are surprising from celery: creamy, sweet, luscious. The stalks’ stringy fibers, often removed before cooking, here act as a brace to help the vegetable keep its shape through a long simmer.
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Inspired by a recipe in Julie Sahni’s Indian Regional Classics (Ten Speed Press, 2001), these carrots are stewed long enough to concentrate their sweetness; mustard seeds, curry leaves, and chiles provide warm and earthy notes.
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Olive Oil-Braised Vegetables
Based on a recipe from Traci Des Jardins, chef and co-owner of Jardiniere in San Francisco, this flavorful mix of broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, and potatoes is braised in olive oil that’s been infused with rosemary, chile flakes, lemon, and anchovies.
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Loubieh Wa Hommus Bi-Ziet
Slow-cooked vegetable dishes like this one, a cumin and paprika spiced stew of beans and tomatoes, are a standby in many parts of the Middle East. Here, tomatoes and green beans release some of their flavor into the cooking liquid, creating a rich broth.
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