Fresh, in-season vegetables deserve to be the centre of attention, or as this masterclass suggests, the hero on the plate. South Australia’s vast array of fresh, flavoursome vegetables makes it easy for chefs to make them the star of the show.
Matching the right vegetables with the right flavours and cooking methods is critical in making the most of the wide range of fresh produce so readily
Knowing how best to use this produce extends beyond the kitchen and plate.
- Get to know the local region, farmers and producers.
- Understand the local climate and its influence on food production.
- Read widely to help grow your own food philosophy.
- Observe fashion and design trends, and think of them in context with food texture and flavour presentation.
- Remember vegetable dishes can help balance the margins.
Low GI Potatoes
Base flavour: Elegant, slightly sweet, starchy, soft texture.
Hero matches: Carries rich flavours that encourage its earthy flavours.
- No need to peel.
- Boil and crush with extra virgin olive oil, roast garlic, freshly ground white pepper, finish with nutmeg.
- Slice, steam, dress with toasted hazelnut slices, roasted spring onion, fresh thyme leaves and hazelnut oil.
Green Beans and Flat Beans
Base flavour: Nutty, rich, slightly sweet green. Meaty round mouthfeel when inner beans are developed. Squeaky texture when super fresh. Young vibrant beans are best.
Hero matches: Slightly acidic dressings (green beans), burnt butter sauces, caramelised onion, egg yolks, herbs, hollandaise, pesto, roasted nuts, savoury essences like mushroom and tomatoes.
- Steam, dress with shaved summer fennel and walnut oil.
Base flavour: Sweet, earthy, a touch of nutty custardiness. Heritage varietals are more earthy than regular Dutch orange.
Hero matches: Citrus, light acid, chilli, dried fruit, fragrant spices like cinnamon, cardamom and fennel.
- Grate carrot add to olive oil with coriander and toasted sesame seeds.
- Roast with cumin seed and cinnamon.
- Steam tossed with capers, currants, mint and pine nuts.
Base flavour: Comforting savoury celery potato like flavour, starchy characteristics.
Hero matches: Butter, fennel, woodyherbs, mayonnaise, mushrooms, spinach and walnuts.
- Julienne with walnuts,walnut oil and lemon.
- Roast with mushroom and shallot jam.
- Sauté dressed with grapefruit gremolata.
Base flavour: Aniseed, slightly sweet.
Hero matches: Basil, citrus, saffron, raw with tapenade.
- Shave fennel with green olive and thyme dressing and almonds.
- Roast with spinach and cardamom purée.
- Poach, dress with pistachio oil and lemon.
Base flavour: Savoury, milder salad onion, round mouthfeel. Can be hot when large. Buy new season small, tight stems with white ends and dark green tips.
Hero matches: Partners that enhance rich onion flavour such as eggplants, fresh ginger oil, mushrooms, soft boiled eggs, tapenade, toasted seeds and nuts and tomatoes.
- Steam, serve with extra virgin olive oil, porcini dust and citrus zest.
- Roast, serve with tomato basil salsa.
Base flavour: Sweet, slightly nutty, round juicy flavour. Can be starchy as it gets older.
Hero matches: Rich butters, chillies, salty flavours, greens, herbs, mushrooms, olives, onions, end of season tomatoes.
- Steam corn with candied shallot and rosemary dressing.
- Grill corn with walnut oil and lime.
- Cream corn with thyme.
Rainbow Chard, Silverbeet and Kale
Base flavour: Sliverbeet and chard are rich greens with a touch of bitterness. Depending on season, can be more bitter and coarse in texture. Chard colour will bleed from stems. Kale is richer than silverbeet and nuttier in flavour.
Hero matches: Rich moist partners like flavoured oils, egg dressings and runny egg yolks.
- Steam, serve with mayonnaise, or citrus or mushroom flavoured oil, with a touch of aged sherry, or vinegar.
Radish and Daikon Radish
Base flavour: Slightly hot, fine delicate starchy acidic flavour, with watery mouthfeel, crisp texture.
Hero matches: Melon, summer fruits, soft greens like spinach, contrasting flavoured oils, herbs like basil and coriander.
- Steam and toss in flavoured oil and summer herbs.
- Finely slice radish with orange oil, fresh coriander and crushed fresh coriander seed.
Base flavour: Meaty, rich, very savoury, earthy, slightly musty and sweet.
Hero matches: Acid such as lemon juice, quality aged sherry or wine vinegars, fragrant woody herbs such as thyme, sage and rosemary, soft herbs such as tarragon, basil and fennel seed.
- Raw, sliced mushroom tossed in herb oil with lemon.
- Mushroom tapenade with olives, garlic, parsley and lemon zest.
- Duxelle (minced mushrooms, onions, shallots and herbs sautéed in butter) dressed with candied zest.
Base flavour: Deep, earthy, sweet, some varietals sweeter than others. Flat palate. Colour bleeds when cooked. Eat young leaves only.
Hero matches: A touch of acid either from citrus or good vinegar, cinnamon, cumin, all herbs, especially fennel, dill and capers, fresh horseradish, nutmeg and spicy, peppery rocket.
- Grate three varietals and dress with apple cider vinegar, orange zest and nut oil.
- Roast and serve with in season citrus, capers, parsley and olive oil.
- The hero should be in season in your local area.
- It should be the main flavour of the dish, as the predominant ingredient.
- Every other ingredient should lift and intensity of the hero’s flavour and texture.
- Taste your hero product raw, so you know the base flavour and determine which preparation method will highlight it.
- Select a cooking method to balance your menu.
- Season every component of your dish and taste the final dish.
- Use as few ingredients as possible.
- Keep cooking to a minimum.
- Remember, you do not need starch, dairy and protein in every dish.