Poaching is a technique you don’t see a lot but it’s actually a lovely way to cook food. Most people will have tried poach chicken and fish which keeps the food moist and full of flavour without added fat, however what about poached vegetables?
The difference between poaching and boiling vegetables in water is subtle, poaching is using flavoured liquid, just covering the vegetables and keeping it on a low heat. I used a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook ‘Plenty’ as my guideline and it was delicious!
It is important to have a wide deep pan so that your veg isn’t too piled up on top of each other, also there is no need to do much food prep as you can keep the veg whole or just simple sliced in half.
The liquid I used is based on Ottolenghi’s recipe but I changed it slightly to make it abit healthier and cheaper. I used the following quantities-
200ml White wine
100ml Extra virgin olive oil
2 Bay leaves
1 Celery stick
Boil off the white wine for 2 minutes first then add everything else in and simmer for a few minutes. The vegetables I decided to poach included 1 bulb of fennel, 2 carrots, 2 baby leeks and 1 courgette. The carrots and fennel went in first for 3 minutes then everything else went in for a further 4 minutes and that’s pretty much all it needed.
I wasn’t sure what they were going to taste like but when I tried each vegetable I was surprised in a very good way! Oh wow, they keep their individual flavour but it’s enhanced by the flavours in the poaching liquid. The leeks in particularly were my favourite because they were soft and succulent with a slight sweetness. I could have eaten a whole bowl of poached leeks.
I also like the fact that the vegetables keep a bit of crunch, especially the courgette which I’ve never cooked in water before (except if chopping up small and adding to soup).
Ottolenghi recommends serving them simply with a caper mayonnaise which I think would make a fantastic addition to a tapas board or mezze but I also think these would be a perfect side dish to a stew or lasagna to lighten up the meal.
You can keep the wonderfully flavoured poaching liquid to use either for further poaching or to use as a stock or the base of a sauce. I saw a recipe where they added some further vegetables to the liquid to create a sauce so I would like to try this . Whatever you do though, don’t throw it away!
Have you ever tried poaching vegetables? Is it something you would try?