This was a 'light bulb' moment. I had been convinced - like so many other cooks - that you absolutely needed oil to sauté foods. Boy, was I wrong. The epiphany occurred when I was taking the Forks Over Knives Rouxbe Ultimate Plant-based Course. If I'm going to be successful at this whole-food, plant-based, no added oil thing, I reasoned, then I need to learn some new stuff.
Although I think any home cook would benefit from this course, if you're seeking to take the plant-based, no added oil approach, then learning this super simple technique will put you way ahead of the game. All you need is a decent non-stick pan - or even a cast iron pan that is well-seasoned - and a bit of water, broth or wine.
Making your own delicious broth is so simple that you'll wonder why you didn't always do it this way. It was also one of the learning modules from the course. You 'harvest' the odds and ends from your vegetables in the fridge, and save them to a zip-lok bag in the freezer. What do you use? Everything.
The stem ends of carrots, zucchini or yellow squash, and asparagus
A couple whole carrots, especially those, ahem, 'limp' ones
Onion skins add a beautiful golden color but toss in a whole onion!
The tough dark green tops from leeks
Mushrooms, the more the better
The bunch end of the celery, plus several stalks
A bulb of garlic, separate the cloves, but don't bother with peeling them
A tablespoon or so of tomato paste
Some salt and pepper
Put it all in a big lidded pot of fresh water and simmer until it's delicious. I use my Instant Pot, however. Just 20 minutes on Low Pressure, Natural Release and I'm done.
Except for the straining. You've got to strain the vegetables for a nice, clear broth. Cheesecloth works fine if you don't have Chinoise strainer.
But, back to the 'water sauté' method.
You simply must have all of your food prepped and ready to cook. Have your Mis en Place ready. Plus a vessel of water/broth/wine. You can even use the flavorful liquid from that can of stewed tomatoes! Oh, there's always Aquafaba - that liquid from a can of garbanzo beans. A small ladle helps.
Heat pan. Add food. Move that food! If it starts to stick, splash in a little liquid. You can reduce the heat to medium-high. Keep the food moving. Add liquid as needed.
So, the pan is getting a bit hot and dry? Give it a sip of liquid.
Keep that food moving! Taste! Adjust seasonings.
You're done! Congratulations! You've just learned to 'water sauté' and avoid all the useless calories from highly refined oils - including that expensive extra virgin olive oil.
BTW: Here's a video introduction to the Rouxbe Forks Over Knives course.