I've seen so many people - new to the Whole-food, Plant-based, No added oil lifestyle - asking how to sauté without oil. It was a 'given' that we needed oil to sauté. Anything less was unimaginable. I was one of those cooks. I must have gone through gallons of every kind of oil. Then, I took the Forks Over Knives Plant-based cooking course offered in partnership with Rouxbe, the online professional culinary school. It was a game changer.
This professionally designed course not only gave me the confidence I needed to become a plant-based home cook, but taught this old dog some new tricks!
I remarked to the instructor after this lesson on no-oil sautéing that I was amazed at how much more pronounced and vibrant the flavors were. He replied - I could sense the chuckle on his end - "now you get it!". Yes, indeed, I got it.
This isn't complicated. Instead of oil, you're simply going to add - as needed - just enough liquid to keep the food moving instead of sticking. That liquid can be so many different things: water, broth (homemade!), wine, the juice from canned tomatoes .... in fact, they all impart much more flavor than oil might. Oil just seems to blunt otherwise bright flavors.
It's all just as easy as putting the food in a hot - preferably non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron - pan. Start to move it around. Add a splash or two of liquid as needed. See that can of stewed tomatoes? Yeah. Combine that with a bit of low-sodium vegetable broth, and you've got a flavor bomb!
Work the onions and garlic first. Add the dark greens - Collards in this case, but it could be kale, Swiss Chard, dandelion greens, Escarole. A pinch of salt. A grind of pepper. Maybe some red pepper flakes.
Dump the rest of the tomatoes in, and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Voilá!
It's also the way I do my fabulous Ratatouille - which you should try!
It works fabulously with all manner of vegetables - below, I'm whipping up a Turk'y-ish Gumbo, combining both fresh and frozen (the Okra!) vegetables. I seasoned the broth with some Tabasco and Cajun seasonings.
Or onions, mushrooms and garlic for a Beefless Stew.
So, what are you waiting for? Start cooking - with a nice vessel of liquid flavor sitting prominently in your Mis en Place.
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