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Mashing or puréeing is a great way to serve a variety of vegetables including potatoes, parsnip, pumpkin and celeriac. Food processors are often used to puree vegetables, although mashing potatoes in the food processor gives them a starchy, gluey texture, so these are best done with a masher or fork. Adding milk or cream when mashing will thin the mash as well as giving it richness. Adding butter to mash also gives richness. Be sure to purchase varieties of potatoes that are good for mashing. Pepper, roast garlic, herbs and freshly ground spices are great to add to mashed or puréed vegetables.
For good mashed potato, boil peeled potatoes until they are soft. Drain and put them in a warm place on the stove top to keep them hot while mashing. Add a teaspoon of butter for each large potato to be mashed. Mash potatoes with a masher or fork and add enough milk to form a smooth mash. Season with any extra flavors and serve.
Stir frying is an easy and quick way to prepare vegetables. The secret to stir frying is to have the pan or wok very hot and the vegetables cut into similar-sized pieces so they cook evenly. Starchy vegetables are not suitable for stir frying. Stir-fried vegetables should be flavored near the end of the cooking time. For simple stir-fried vegetables, heat sesame oil over high heat in a wok or frypan. Add assorted vegetables and stir fry for 3-5 minutes. Complete the dish with a squeeze of lemon and cracked black pepper. Serve immediately.
Steaming is an easy way to cook vegetables and almost all vegetables can be steamed. Steaming vegetables retains their water-soluble vitamins. Vegetables that don’t take well to steaming are the starchy ones such as potatoes.
When steaming, make sure that vegetables are cut into equal-sized pieces so they cook evenly. To steam vegetables, place them in a bamboo or metal steamer, place lid on steamer and put steamer over a saucepan of boiling water. Steam is extremely hot, so be careful not to over cook vegetables. Serve vegetables soon after steaming.
A variety of vegetables can be roasted including root vegetables, onions, pumpkin and capsicums (peppers). Some vegetables (pumpkin and sweet potato) are better peeled and others (beetroot and potatoes) just need a good scrub before roasting. For even browning, place vegetables in a baking dish and drizzle oil over them. Shake the dish well to coat vegetables. For salt and rosemary potatoes, add 2 teaspoons of sea salt and 1 tablespoon of rosemary leaves. Bake at 400°F (200°C) for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until potatoes are golden.
Capsicum (pepper), zucchini (courgette), eggplant (aubergine) and fennel are just a few of the vegetables that are great for char grilling. The most important rule when char grilling is to brush the vegetables, not the char grill, with oil. Greasing the char grill will cause a lot of smoke during the cooking process. Char grill vegetables on both sides until tender. Pour a dressing over to marinate or serve vegetables with grilled or roast meat.