Wash vegetables briefly under cold running water just before using. If necessary, a gentle scrub with a soft vegetable brush will remove any surface dirt.
When washing leafy greens, swish them around in a large bowl of cool water, changing the water several times. Cut or peel vegetables as close to serving time as possible.
Once the skin on vegetables is broken, they begin to lose valuable nutrients. Some vegetables, such as artichokes, discolor when their cut surfaces are exposed to air.
To prevent this, rub the cut surfaces with the cut side of a lemon half. Not all vegetables require peeling, but you may want to peel certain types if their peel is tough or unpleasant tasting. It is important to remove as thin a layer of peel as possible; a vegetable peeler is the best choice. Vegetables should be cut into uniform pieces to ensure even cooking. If you are making soup or preparing a recipe for which evenly cut pieces aren't important, use a food processor to save time.
Barbecued whole corn, or corn on the cob, is deliciously sweet and succulent. For a nutty caramelized flavor, husk, coat in olive oil, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and grill whole or broken into chunks. Serve with butter. Or, cook whole in the husk: this will keep the kernels from charring and steam it.
Cook over a high heat for about 20 minutes.
Slice the eggplant lengthwise into slices about ½ inch (1 cm) thick, or slice into 1 inch (2.5 cm) rounds. Either way, coat liberally with olive oil, season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and grill until charred and crispy, with the flesh soft.
Cook eggplant rounds over high heat for about 5 minutes on each side, and slices about 5 minutes in total.
Once trimmed (keeping the fronds to cook with fish), quarter the fennel and remove the core. Coat in olive oil, lemon, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper, and add to the barbecue. If you have time beforehand, soften the fennel by cooking it for 2 minutes in boiling salted water.
Cook over medium high heat for about 10 minutes in total. Turn regularly.
Cook whole or cut into chunks: red, yellow, or orange are the sweetest, but green teams well with meats such as lamb. Rub in a little olive oil, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper, and cook until lightly charred. If cooking whole, remove, put in a plastic bag to loosen skin to for removal, and seed. If cooking chunks, seed first.
Cook whole peppers over high heat for 10 to 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. Cook pieces alone, or skewered with other ingredients, for about 5 minutes, turning halfway.
They become sweet and flavorsome on the barbecue. Slice lengthwise into slices about ¼ inch (5mm) thick, coat in olive oil, lemon, garlic, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Add to the barbecue and cook until golden and tender. Alternatively, slice into chunks, and thread onto skewers.
Cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes in total, turning once. They will Release themselves from the barbecue rack when they're ready.
Refrigeration is the key to keeping most vegetables in prime condition. Store them in the coolest part of the refrigerator or in the crisper drawer.
Don't store vegetables in zip tight plastic bags, as the condensation that forms encourages rapid decay. The exception is leafy greens. Store them, loosely wrapped in paper towels, in a plastic bag, pressing out all the air.
Mushrooms should be kept in a brown paper bag, and it is best to store potatoes, onions, garlic, and winter squash in a dark, well ventilated place at cool room temperature.
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