Today we are starting with a very controversial statement — I boil my vegetables.
You may not believe me, but it’s true! I would not lie about something important like this.
Let me explain. I grew up just outside of Barcelona, where, yes, we do roast vegetables, but usually we will roast vegetables in a wood burning oven or over a hot fire with charcoal. We’ll grill things like the beautiful, thin calçot onions whole and we char the outside. We’ll do eggplant and red peppers. But then the vegetables are peeled and we only eat the sweet, tender inside parts after we remove the burnt skin.
So yes, I was shocked when I came to America and saw many restaurants and people, and even cookbooks, roasting the whole carrots and roasting whole beets and roasting all their tubers, including potatoes. I will not lie to you that more than once I told my friends: Are you crazy? Roasting carrots?
Boiling is something I saw my mother doing often when I was growing up. Green beans and potatoes will go into a pot. Some salt will be added, and love, yes, too. And in the moment the potatoes were soft and the green beans were soft — my mom would always overcook her beans — she’d strain them. She would add olive oil, some pimentón, the beautiful deep red paprika from Spain that is lightly smoked, and some salt and a drizzle of sherry vinegar. This is one of my favorite dishes that my mom cooked.
In the end, my friends, boiled or roasted, if it’s done with love and it’s done with common sense, both are amazing. So you say roasted, I say boil. Well, yeah, let's do it the way we want. But put love into it and it will always be delicious.
My Potatoes and Green Beans
A simple, humble plate of vegetables that have been gently boiled in a warm bath of salt water is always my favorite. Water is life! It is what we are all made of, and vegetables too.
Water, with a little—or a lot—of salt, always gives that beautiful punch to the vegetables. To me it is one of the easiest ways to feed a family. I like to use spicy pimentón (pimentón de la Vera picante) for this recipe, but you can also use the sweet (dulce) variety.