Crayon-box vegetables with crispy herbs


Some people think unusually colored vegetables are, well, weird. My purple potatoes got mixed reactions at work tonight — ranging from excitement to politely (yet poorly) veiled disgust. I, for one, like colorful food, especially if all that color is natural. And this vegetable medley mixes all your basic Crayola colors. What’s more cool than that?

rainbowAnd speaking of color, as we were eating, we saw a rainbow from the patio:

I’m still going through the vitelotte potatoes I bought a week ago at the Tel Aviv port farmer’s market. I also used some light green cauliflower I bought this Friday, along with asparagus and beet.

white-savoryIn order to give the vegetables a bit more flavor, I fried some herbs in oil — a suggestion from a coworker, Doram, who happens to be our cooking columnist — including the white savory (in the photo) I picked up by chance this Friday. Full disclosure: I wrote the Wikipedia entry linked above, since this was my first encounter with zuta levana (זוטא לבנה), and I wanted to figure out what exactly it was. Turns out Wikipedia didn’t have anything on it, but a few other botanical sources did. Apparently, white savory is a plant in the mint family that grows only in the Galilee. But more on that later this week.

In all fairness, the colors of the vegetables don’t actually contribute to the flavor: You could make this with normal vegetables, and it would taste about the same.

Note: If you don’t happen to have any white savory sitting around, say, because you don’t live in Israel, you could make this with just sage, or with thyme or mint — nearly any herb of your choosing.

colorful-vegetables-steaming300 g vitelotte potatoes
200 g light green (or other colored) cauliflower
100 g asparagus (5 spears)
100 g beet (1 small beet)
heaping tbsp fresh sage (a few branches)
heaping tbsp fresh white savory (a few branches)
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp pine nuts
olive oil

Dice the potatoes, cauliflower and asparagus. Put the potatoes in the bottom of a thick pot, add some boiling water, and put a steamer into the pot. Put the asparagus and cauliflower into the steamer, cover the pot, and let cook until the vegetables on top are soft and bright green. The potatoes underneath should be done as well. Take all the vegetables out of the pot.

Now blanch the beet, sliced into disks, for a few minutes in the water. When you’re done, you’ll have bright magenta water left over — I used mine to make rice.

Set the vegetables aside. Put the seeds in a dry frying pan to toast for a few minutes, making sure they brown but don’t burn. The pumpkin seeds should puff up, and the pine nuts should acquire an oily gloss. Set the seeds aside, and then add a few spoonfuls of olive oil to the pan — enough to flavor the vegetables. Add the herbs — leaves only, with the sage leaves chopped into little bits (the savory leaves are small enough as it is). Let the leaves fry until they look crispy, stirring so they don’t burn.

Mix everything together — the vegetables, the herb oil and the seeds, and add salt to taste.

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