Vegetable Menestra

How to make a Vegetable Menestra.

Ingredients:

  • 12 baby carrots, peeled
  • 12 baby leeks, trimmed and washed
  • 12 green asparagus, trimmed
  • 12 runner beans, sides peeled
  • 12 new potatoes, peeled
  • 12 small florets of cauliflower
  • 2 baby gem lettuces, split in 2 halves lengthways
  • 4 handfuls of baby spinach
  • For the artichoke tempura:
  • 4 globe artichokes
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 50g plain flour, plus extra for coating the artichokes
  • 75ml ice cold water
  • A pinch of curry powder
  • For the sauce:
  • 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 large spring onion, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 50g oyster mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 50g sliced ibérico ham
  • 1 tsp of plain flour
  • 250ml fresh beef stock
  • 100ml white wine
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. For the baby carrots, fry them with one tablespoon of olive oil for a couple of minutes, season with salt and cover with 50ml of beef stock, bring to the boil and simmer until tender, take out of the stock to cool down and set aside.
  2. For the baby leeks, cook in boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Cool down quickly in iced water.
  3. For the asparagus, cook in the same water as the leeks for 2 minutes. Cool down in iced water.
  4. For the runner beans with the help of a peeler, peel the side lengthways to remove the tough lining. Trim the corners and slice into one-inch chunks. Cook in boiling water for 3 minutes and cool down in iced water.
  5. For the cauliflower, cook in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Cool down in iced water.
  6. For the new potatoes, cook in boiling salted water for 8 minutes or until tender. Cool down and set aside.
  7. To prepare the artichokes, remove the outer hard leaves with the help of a sharp paring knife. Once the artichokes are peeled, cut them in half lengthways and place in a pan with 2 tbsp of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice to avoid discoloration and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Take out of the cooking liquid to cool down, pat dry and set aside.
  8. To make the tempura batter, in a medium size bowl, mix the flour and curry powder and whisk in the cold water until briefly combined, leave it lumpy. To fry the artichokes, heat the vegetable oil in large pan, roll the cooked artichokes in flour, and dip in the tempura batter, fry until golden for about 3 minutes. Drain and season with salt.
  9. For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large shallow casserole dish and fry the sliced ibérico ham until crispy, drain and set aside. Add the garlic, spring onion and mushrooms and fry gently until lightly coloured. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute on a gentle heat, deglaze with the white wine and reduce by half. Add the beef stock, season with salt and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes until you have a glossy sauce.
  10. To finish the menestra, add the cooked carrots, leeks, asparagus, runner beans, new potatoes, cauliflower florets and baby spinach to the sauce and gently heat for 5 minutes for the spinach to wilt and the vegetables to take on the flavour of the sauce. In a large frying pan, sear the baby gem lettuce halves with the remaining one tablespoon of olive oil until well charred on one side and add them to the vegetable panache stirring them in gently. Sprinkle the crispy ham and add the tempura artichoke pieces. Serve with some crusty bread.
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