Bạn Đang Xem: This Genius Marinade Brings Vegetables to Life
Every week in Genius Recipes—often with your help!—Food52 Creative Director and lifelong Genius-hunter Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that will change the way you cook.
Bryant Terry wants to help us all eat—and love—more vegetables, no matter what diet we might be following (or not following at all). In my world, it’s been working.
In his newest cookbook Vegetable Kingdom, this recipe alone has helped me make the most of my crisper odds and ends, thanks to a smart, flexible technique and a multitasking sauce that does good work, twice. Bryant designed the recipe for asparagus, but it will help with whatever’s burning a hole in your crisper right now.
His first trick is in making a brighter, more effective marinade for the asparagus to drink up. Though you might think of marinades as just flavorful liquids and herbs and spices sloshed together, there are good reasons to consider making them creamy, too.
We’ve already started to wake up to the benefits of marinating all sorts of things in mayo-based sauces, due to the way they cling to and coat surfaces, trap flavors, and blister against heat (see: Alabama-style barbecue, this mighty salad, and this New York Times column from our ever-genius friend J. Kenji López-Alt). But Bryant has found a fresh, handy, and fully plant-based alternative: tofu (ideally silken).
You’ll drizzle over the marinade at the end of this recipe, but I’ve also been using it as a ranch-esque dip to make my way through other cut-up veg with no plan—cucumbers, radishes, even husky fennel tops I also didn’t want to throw away. This means I’m eating a lot more of all of them.
Here’s Bryant’s fundamental technique we can use with whatever we have on hand:
Blanch the veg to soften it enough to absorb the marinade. This classic move of first boiling in salty water to deactivate the enzymes that cause browning, then shocking in cold to pause the cooking also helps the color and flavor stay bright.
If you don’t have asparagus, Bryant suggests thick fennel wedges or other big hunks that can hold their own on a grill (or under a broiler); I first jumped to broccoli, because I love drenching mine in lemon and pepper. But with flavors this universal, most vegetables will like them. If you have a few radishes or carrots that need using up, throw them in, too! Their cooking times will vary, but just blanch each vegetable on its own until it’s slightly tender, then haul it out.
- Marinate (for about an hour). Make your marinade punchy with acid and spice, both to flavor the veg and because you get to eat it all later. And make it creamy: If you can’t find silken tofu, Bryant suggests using a smaller amount of medium or firm with extra water in a high-powered blender, or simmering down some rice or oat milk to make it thicker and creamier.
- Grill (or broil) your marinated veg. This quickly finishes cooking the vegetable through, browns the lingering marinade, and frizzles the tips.
- Splash on more marinade-slash-sauce and other brighteners. More lemon zest. More pepper (white, if you’ve got it, to add another layer of spicy funk). And, if you’re like me in the very homemade video above, more thinly sliced coins of asparagus from the tough ends you don’t want to waste (they’re delicious!).
If you have any questions about substitutions, I’m here for you in the comments section below this article. I hope this template inspires you to play with the vegetables you have on hand (and then eat lots of them).
Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Perhaps something perfect for beginners? Please send it my way (and tell me what’s so smart about it) at [email protected].
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