You know you should eat more vegetables. You want to eat more vegetables. Why don’t you eat more vegetables?
Is it because your veggie dishes are mundane? Some steamed broccoli here. A can of corn tossed into the microwave there. When you have time to fuss, a green bean casserole.
Two years ago, I found myself scratching my head over how to use all of the green beans from my garden that I’d labored to clean and cut and freeze. I don’t want to wear out Julie and me with vegetable soup—and we love vegetable soup! While we enjoy steamed veggies—broccoli and cauliflower are our go-to’s—fresh-frozen green beans aren’t well served this way. And Julie isn’t much for green bean casserole.
I also roast vegetables—I add carrots to the ubiquitous broccoli and cauliflower—but wasn’t sure how frozen green beans would perform that way.
Finally, I did what we do in this house. I googed the quest. I found a recipe for sautéed green beans and corn, seasoned with basil. I was intrigued by the recipe calling for them to be cooked in a combination of equal parts butter and oil.
I already knew that it is problematic to fry only in butter, because it burns easily. I liked the idea of combining oil and butter. I was curious how this would go.
I use a non-stick pan, so I start and remain on low heat. We like veggies that will caramelize—think onions and carrots—and others to brown. That first time I made the beans and corn, it took an hour to get a good portion of them browned.
We loved the green beans and corn. The next time I made them, I added shaved onions and carrots. Another hit! Soon, I was sautéing whatever we had on hand. The following photos are from my most recent pan-fry: onions, asparagus, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower.
We have a chipped dinner plate that we no longer use for eating, so I make use of it in when cooking. Covering it with veggies, I happened onto determining how many neatly fit our pan. It’s not exactly on the level of how super glue was created, but it sure stuck for me.
Before getting that far, I get started with the items that will caramelize:
I give those about ten minutes, then toss on the rest of the vegetables. Because they heap in the pan, with many not touching the surface, I place a lid until the veggies soften.
Season them how you like. Sometimes, I use only basil. Often, I add salt and pepper. Occasionally, I’ll give a good sprinkling of garlic powder.
It takes perhaps fifteen minutes to soften the vegetables. I then remove the lid and stir everything. I continue stirring every five to ten minutes, striving to get most of the veggies onto the pan surface so they can brown.
The total time—from when I turn on the heat until the vegetables are done—takes at least an hour, and as much as ninety minutes.
Here’s the finished product of my latest batch:
If you look closely, some of the carrots and asparagus are extra crispy. I didn’t turn over the veggies quickly enough early on. Thankfully, they were still delicious!
With steaming vegetables, there is a narrow window of time when they are done just right. Leave them too long, and they turn to mush. Not so with sautéing them. There’s loads of leeway, so you can get them where you like them—from cooked but not brown, to nicely browned, to browned and caramelized and crunchy!