‘Tis the season of bountiful harvest from our many amazing Alberta producers. After spending months dedicated to soil and seeds, farmers near and far have provided us hungry locals with a gorgeous array of colourful, healthy and, most importantly, flavourful vegetables.
Most of us already know there a few golden guidelines to cooking vegetables, such as uniform slicing and cooking the soft and the hard together, but in order to make vegetables the star of the show rather than the back-up singer, we’ve asked a few of our favourite chefs to share some of their go-to vegetable recipes and tips.
Chef/Proprietor Paul Stoffel
Q Haute Cuisine (Calgary)
“Vegetables are incredibly versatile in terms of preparation, presentation, texture and taste, leaving a lot of room to play and create,” says Chef Stoffel.
“You’ll often find me charring my red peppers. Charring or roasting reduces the sharpness and intensifies the natural sugars, leaving you with a whole new smoky, tender and juicy ingredient,” he explains. “My technique is to roast over an open flame, turning frequently to ensure even charring. If you don’t have a gasstove, you can char it under the broiler.
“When the pepper is completely charred, I place it into a bowl and saran wrap tightly, or in a Tupperware container with a tight fitting lid,” he explains. “I then let it steam and cool for 10 minutes, allowing the skin to easily peel away from the flesh. From there I gently scrape the skin off with my knife, then wipe the remaining off with a cloth. Be careful not to run under water as it will wash away the oils of the pepper, destroying the flavour you worked so hard to attain.”
Click here to see Chef Ctoffel’s recipe for Vegetable Pavé
Private Chef (Edmonton)
“Ask me how I like my summer vegetables prepared, and I often say ‘pickled’,” says Chef Prei. “Nothing quite compares to the sharp tang and fresh crunch of a good quick pickle!”
“The beauty of a good quick pickle is its simplicity,” she continues. “It’s as easy as boiling water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices together, and then covering your produce with that liquid and waiting a few hours.”
Pickling helps extend summer’s bounty well into the fall. The difference between a quick pickle and a canned pickle is that the quick pickle process can be equated to marinating. Canned pickles, on the other hand, use a waterbath canning process and stronger brine to extend their shelf life.
“The best part about pickling is how versatile and adaptable it can be using whatever you have on hand,” Chef Prei explains. “Feel free to play around with a variety of vinegars, heat, fresh herbs and spices. I love adding my pickled goodies to a loaded charcuterie board to complement my cured meat and fish, but they’re also great on their own for a satisfyingly briny snack!”
Click here to see Chef Prei’s receipe for Chamomile Quick Pickle Liquid