Long cooking vegetables is something of a lost art, probably because so many people associate it with a mushy result. But it is actually a delicious method of cooking vegetables such as green beans, broccoli, or summer squash, particularly mature specimens that have lingered until the end of their season.
Long cooking calls for a very low temperature and lots of olive oil to bring out all of the natural sweetness of the vegetable. Your vegetables are done when they’re so soft they are nearly impossible to lift from the oil, and they are an earthy shade of green. That’s when they’re at their tastiest and sweetest. This is a rich side dish and should be served with something simple, like Seared Duck Breasts or Lamb Loin Chops).
I cannot overstate the importance of keeping the oil over very low heat; too high and you’ll fry the vegetables. If you have a high-powered stove, invest in a diffuser to temper the heat. If the flame on your stove top goes out at the lowest setting, transfer the pot to a low oven (250°F) instead. Because the oil never gets hot enough to break down or denature, you can store it in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months and use it again for long-cooking vegetables.
- Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
- 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat side of a knife blade
- 1¾ pounds green beans, trimmed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Warm the oil in a 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven or other heavy pot over very low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and allow it to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the green beans and salt and cook, tossing frequently, until the color along the edges of the beans begins to brighten, 5 to 7 minutes. The beans should be almost (but not quite) submerged in the oil; add a splash more oil if necessary.
- Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook until the beans are very tender and nearly (but not quite) falling apart, about 1 hour. Check frequently to make sure the oil temperature is low enough to cook the beans very slowly. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, gently remove beans from the oil and serve immediately.
- Variations Long-Cooked Zucchini: Cut 1½ pounds zucchini (about 4) in half crosswise. Cut each half lengthwise into 4 to 6 spears. Proceed as directed for the beans, but cook the zucchini uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the zucchini spears from the oil gently, as they will be very soft. Long-Cooked Broccoli: Cut 1½ pounds broccoli (about 2 heads) into 2- to 3-inch-long florets, each about ½ inch wide. Proceed as directed for the beans, cooking the broccoli covered for 55 to 60 minutes. Check the broccoli frequently and gently move the florets around to ensure they’re fully covered by the oil. When the broccoli is ready, carefully remove it from the oil with a slotted spoon. Broccoli tends to break apart easily when cooked this way, so if you plan to store the oil, pour it through a fine-mesh strainer placed over a bowl to filter it. The tiny bits you capture in the strainer are my favorite; I like to sop them up with a piece of bread. Fresh Corn and Summe