The Art of Cookery: Cleaning and preparing vegetables - Italian Cleaning and preparing vegetables from Tuscan Cooking.

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VEGETABLES


Pulire e preparare la verdura
(Cleaning and preparing vegetables)
 
In Il Tinciante (The Caver) Vincenzo Cervio explains in great detail "How to chop artichokes". The lengthy description might seem a bit exaggerated at first, but in fact their correct preparation is essential to the successful outcome of a recipe.
 
Firstly, always choose fresh artichokes. Chop off all but a centimetre of the stem (the steam can also be used for chooking if you peel them, removing the outer, dark green flesh). Now remove the hard, darker outer leaves, until you get to the heart of the artichoke where the bottom of the leaves, near to the steam, are very light green in colour. Trim off the spiny, upper tips of the leaves. Cut the artichoke in two and scrape out the fuzzy, inner 'choke' with a knife. Cut into segments or slice, according to the recipe you are following, and put in a bowl with water and a good squeeze of a lemon juice to prevent discoloration.
 
Drain well before cooking.
 
Other vegetables do not need so much preparation: simply remove the tougher, outer leaves, steam or roots; peel or shell, and they can be washed, chopped and cooked according to your recipe. Here is a useful tip though: vegetables which grow underground (root vegetables) should be put in cold water to cook, while those which grow above ground should be dropped into boiling water. The heat and the cooking process tend to reduce the vitamine content, but you can reduce the loss by using only a little water or, even better, by steaming them.
 
Salad should be washed in water with a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda dissolved in it. This makes it easier to wash, and removes any bugs or insects attached to the leaves. Rinse at least four times in fresh, cold water before draining and drying the leaves.

 
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