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The pleasures of cold vegetables

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I spent Sunday at the stove steaming vegetables. Why? Take a look at these two pictures.

I hadn't even realized until I started organizing my photos that two of the best dishes I ate on vacation were in essence, the same: the first at l'Arpège and the second at the restaurant at Albergo Posta on Lake Como. They look very different, but when you get right down to it, they're both nothing more than perfectly cooked vegetables dressed with a little sauce -- in the first, a sweet-sour combination from a three-star chef, in the second, nothing but good olive oil, lemon juice and coarse salt. (To tell you the truth, I couldn't tell you which one I preferred.)

It takes a little time to get everything prepped and then you want to make sure you cook all the vegetables separately, so you can get the precise degree of doneness you want. "Laker" potatoes from Weiser Family Farms took about 15-17 minutes, zucchini took about 5 (cook them whole, then quarter them). Besides that, I've got chard stems (leaves saved for something else), artichokes, fennel, carrots and cauliflower.

Dinner Sunday night was an assortment served with aioli and cold rosé. Dinner Tuesday night might be the same combination but with olive oil and lemon juice, or maybe with an herbal mayonnaise. Who knows? When you've got a refrigerator full of great vegetables, the sky is the limit.

--Russ Parsons

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Photo credit: Kathy Parsons

 
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