Macédoine de légumes (mixed vegetables)

Macédoine, an incomprehensible reference to Macedonia in French, means a mixture. The word in French for fruit cocktail is macédoine de fruits.

Many Americans don’t like cooked vegetables (or even vegetables at all). This dish has got me praise from children and adults alike many of whom, I know from having them at my table, do not generally like vegetables.

I have always liked vegetables, something my mother passed on to me, however, when my mother-in-law from Lorraine served these, it was a new experience in delight for me.

This isn’t so much a recipe as a description of how we made vegetables for eating every day in my family when I lived in France a lifetime ago.

We didn’t eat the corn I have listed here; this is more of an American ingredient. Europeans ate very little corn when I lived there. Ingredients can be added to or supplemented for greater variety. Think about cauliflower and broccoli.

The cubes of red, waxy potatoes will better endure the cooking process, but starchy potatoes like Russetts are still tasty even if they start to dissolve a bit. This will tend toward creamy and mushy (in a good sense) by the time it’s done.

In calculating vegetable quantities for a dinner, depending on how much else is to eat, a friend in catering and hotelry in the Champagne region of France (just east of Paris) advised me to count on anywhere from 100 to 250 grams (around 4 to 8 ounces) of vegetable per person. This is infinitely more than the near zero ounces you can count on getting served in most American restaurants, so it will allow you to reduce the amount of other dishes like meat and starch for a better balanced meal.

I remembered this dish because I wanted to avoid serving a separate starch once. This dish can take the place of both vegetable and potato, rice, etc. in the main course.

Serves 10-14.

  ¼ lb butter
  1 medium onion, any color, chopped
  4 big cloves garlic, minced
  1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  1 lb potatoes, diced
  1 lb medium carrots, diced (about 6 large)
  1 lb corn
  1 lb peas
  1 lb beans
  kosher salt to taste
  freshly ground pepper to taste
  sour or fresh cream

1. Dice and boil potatoes until half-tender, red-waxy until near tender. Drain and set aside.

2. Preheat (cook) other assorted vegetables, usually from small frozen packages, and drain. Avoid losing too many nutrients by using as little water as possible. Can use butter, salt, pepper, etc. as if cooking them to serve alone. Left-overs make a lot of sense here too. Set aside.

3. In a large pot, clarify chopped onions in some of the butter over medium heat. Lower heat. Add garlic and carrots, then cook until carrots nearing tender. Add in potatoes.

What you have in your pot now constitutes the basis for this dish; beyond this is pretty much your decision although for it to be a true macédoine, it should contain at least another vegetable or two. Here, in my ingredient list, I suggest three of my favorite although I also especially love cauliflower in this setting. I find yams too starkly sweet, but hey, this is America, right?!

4. Add other vegetables to main pot. Use a broad wooden spatula or spoon to fold the vegetables carefully to avoid marring them. Cover and simmer adding small amounts of water if needed.

5. Salt attentively to taste. If there isn’t enough salt, you may be disappointed. As I salt too little, I always offer salt at table for this dish.

Offer a small bowl of sour cream at table. Children especially appreciate mixing in a little daub with their vegetables.