Vegetables a la Grecque is a French recipe for a pickled vegetable salad that uses olive oil and lemon or vinegar along with wine and certain Mediterranean spices to not only give the vegetables a zing, but also help to preserve them. It’s a great way to use up vegetables in your fridge that may go bad somewhat soon, but obviously can also be used with fresh veggies from the garden or farmer’s market!
You put together a flavorful liquid and gently poach the vegetables until just barely tender. Then cool and serve, or for more flavor, store them in the fridge for a day or two or up to 2 weeks (although I have kept some for over a month before). Since they are eaten cold or at room temperature, rather than hot, they can be made in advance, and in quantity, and just served as desired. Great as an appetizer, a starter or a side dish at your next cookout, this versatile dish does it all. I have even eaten it along with some cooked beans and a slice of grilled whole grain bread as a meal!
The only trick is to time the adding of the vegetables to the liquid (those that need more cook time first) to make sure they’re done properly — cooked but still a little bit firm when you bite them. This isn’t much of a problem, since we are doing it all in one pot.
This version uses things I could find in late spring — carrots, cauliflower, green beans, zucchini and fennel with a few cloves of garlic tossed in. I topped it with fresh herbs and cherry tomatoes for color and freshness.
Don’t let my pictures fool you. This dish may not look like much – especially since it sat in my fridge for weeks before I got around to taking the photos – but it packs a flavor punch and will delight your tastebuds, I promise. This has gotten me in the mood to make this again with what I currently have so maybe I’ll have some better pics to share soon!
Do I have to use wine for this dish?
No, you can totally skip the wine and just add an extra 1/2 cup of water. But remember that the simmering and evaporating of the liquid releases most, if not all of the alcohol.
What if I don’t have one or two of the spices?
No worries! While coriander is standard here, you can certainly use what you have or maybe substitute with something you have and enjoy. White peppercorns are traditional, but feel free to use black or green or even pink!
What are the best vegetables to use?
The beauty of this recipe is that almost any sturdy vegetable will work. Root vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and spring and summer vegetables like snap peas, radish, green beans or zucchini will also do well. Mushrooms are often added, just not on my blog! Leafy greens are not a good choice here.
Can I do this with just one vegetable?
Absolutely! Carrots are a good choice as well as green beans or maybe just mushrooms. It is entirely up to you! The only “rule” here is that you have somewhere around 2 lbs of vegetables for this amount of liquid.
Vegetables a la Grecque
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ cup dry white wine or vermouth
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup vinegar or lemon juice white wine or apple cider or even sherry vinegar will work
- 1 tablespoon honey can use agave or granulated sugar instead
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon black or white peppercorns I used some of each
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme or use ½ teaspoon dried
- 1-2 teaspoons salt start with 1 tsp and taste before adding more
- 2 pounds fresh vegetables of choice I used carrots, red onion, garlic, green beans, cauliflower, fennel. Other options are eggplant, mushrooms, baby zucchini/summer squash, radishes, snap peas.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ⅓ cup cherry tomatoes halves or quartered
- salt and pepper to taste
- Add all of the Pickling Brine ingredients in a saucepan. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, add vegetables (in order of cooking time needed - I did carrots first, then green beans and cauliflower, then fennel and garlic) and reduce heat to simmer about 5-6 mins. total. Make sure you don't over cook the vegetables. They should still be slightly crunchy. They will continue to soften slightly after cooking.
- Transfer to a bowl to allow to cool to room temperature. You can serve right away or refrigerate overnight and/or up to a week or two. Bring to room temperature before serving. Top with extra virgin olive oil, tomatoes (in my case) and salt and pepper.