Monday, 29 August 2011

Try a Little Tenderness

Fette di Vitello con Verdure Fresche e Orzo
Strips of Veal with Fresh Garden Vegetables and Barley

I was in the mood for something light and healthy tonight, but was loathe to make do with another salad. I had a couple of slices of veal in my fridge that were demanding my attention and how could I ignore them? So I opted for the clean, fresh flavors of carrot, celery and red pepper and prepared this here little number, served on a bed of barley and full of natural goodness... I hope the veal was as happy as I was with the results!

Barley... firm and chewy and sadly neglected, is one of my favorite grains. I prepared this batch with some finely chopped parsley stalks- they are full of flavor and it drives me crazy when people throw them away and only use the leaves! Cover the barley with just enough water and season with salt, pepper, a little finely chopped garlic and a little nutmeg...bring it to the boil and let it simmer for 7-8 minutes, or until it has soaked up all of the water, adding a little if necessary. Turn off the heat and add a tiny squeeze of lemon juice, and a drizzle of olive oil, stir well and allow to sit and steam in the hot saucepan until you are ready to serve. That's all there is to it.

The rest is even more simple- it just takes one frying pan and a little time. The way to do it, is to flash-fry the veal first... so crank the heat up high and fry with a little crushed garlic for 2-3 minutes maximum on all sides... sprinkle generously with paprika powder, season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice and set to one side. Now do the vegetables... carrots and celery first as they are the firmest. Cover them with just enough water that the pan isn't dry, salt and pepper them and let them simmer for 3-4 minutes, until the water is completely evaporated. Spread them out on the pan so that they are not lying on top of each other- the large cooking area will make sure that they cook quickly and evenly. The idea is to only use as much liquid to cook the vegetables as is absolutely necesarry and to not lose any of the flavor by pouring it away... it is not rocket science! Food is so much tastier if it is not diluted-down... give it a try- you will see and taste the difference! Remove your cooked veggies from the pan, run under the cold tap to retain the color and prevent them overcooking and do the same with the peppers and the spring onions.

Now that everything is ready, you can put them all back into the frying pan, add a drop of olive oil and a pat of butter and toss gently to give everything a gentle glaze. Sprinkle with a hint of sugar, grate again with a hint of nutmeg and lightly caremelize everything- just enough to give it a tiny hint of yummy sweetnes. Serve on a bed of barley with ample parsley... so light and so delicious! Each individual flavor stands out on its own and the combination of the vegetables, meat and barley is simple, satisfying and scrumptious! But don't take my word for it... try it yourself!

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