An array of seasonal vegetables bathes in a quick sweet-and-sour sauce. This would be a lovely lunch (served with a piece of crusty bread), a first course for a spring or summer party, or you could bulk it up with beans, poached eggs and/or a grain of your choice for a standalone dinner.
½ teaspoon coriander seed
½ teaspoon salt white peppercorns
¼ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
½ cup water
3 tablespoons concentrated tomato paste
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 small bouquet garni (herbs such as parsley, thyme and bay leaf; see note)
¼ cup sugar
Pinch salt, plus more as needed
1¾ pounds baby vegetables of your choice, trimmed and cut, as needed (see note)
4 ounces small button mushrooms, cleaned and cut into halves or quarters
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish
Crush the coriander seed and white peppercorns using a mortar and pestle, then transfer the mixture a large pan. Add the vinegar, oil, water, tomato paste, lemon juice, garlic, bouquet garni, sugar and salt; cook gently, over low heat, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally with a whisk to form a smooth dressing.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. You'll use it to cook/blanch the separate kinds of vegetables, except for the mushrooms: Allow 1 minute for the cauliflower florets, 30 seconds for the green beans, 1 minute and 30 seconds for the zucchini spears, 30 seconds for the radishes and 2 to 3 minutes for the carrots. Drain the blanched vegetables and add to the pan with the dressing.
Add the raw mushrooms to the pan and stir gently to coat all the vegetables; cook for 5 minutes. Discard the bouquet garni.
Transfer the vegetables to a serving bowl with the dressing and let cool a little. Season with salt and black pepper, as needed. Scatter the parsley on top. Serve still warm, or at room temperature.
Notes: This recipe calls for a bouquet garni, which is a cinch to make: Use kitchen twine (or a small cheescloth bag) to tie together stems of herbs for flavor. The bundle makes for quick and easy removal. Here, we chose vegetables that would look pretty on the plate: "cheddar" cauliflower, haricots verts, spears of zucchini, quartered red radishes and thin purple carrots. If you can't find true baby vegetables, feel free to create your own mix.
Serves 4 to 6
Nutrition | Per serving (based on 6): 250 calories, 3 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 19 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 150 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 14 g sugar
Adapted from "Around the World in 120 Salads: Fresh Healthy Delicious," by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi (Kyle Books, 2017).