Some restaurants tend to make meat the focus of the main dish and skimp with regards to vegetable portions. How many times have you seen a huge steak served on a massive dish with a tiny portion of vegetables: something like a few minuscule cubes of carrot; a single, near microscopic broccoli floret or a lone spear of asparagus? Really the vegetables are there just for decoration.
When you ask for additional vegetables, or, if they’re not on the menu, request that the chef prepares a dish with veggies, the wait-staff look at you as if you come from another planet. And once again, inevitably, when the vegetable plate arrives, the portion is just as absurdly little. (And I’m not even talking about the flavor here, as most often these mini-veggies only taste like butter.) It is funny as I have always thought that vegetables were cheaper (and healthier) than meat to serve, so they’d likely improve the bottom line of any restaurant. What’s up with that?
I’m pulling your metaphorical leg here a bit, as I know the reason for this. We’re trained to ignore veggies and focus on fattening foods, especially when we dine out. How sad.
Actually this dreadful paucity of veggies happened to me the other day when we went to Zuni with friends. I was not very excited about the main course offerings, so instead, I ordered appetizers and wanted some vegetables to go with them. The waiter promptly offered to have the chef prepare a ‘special’ side of veggies for me. On the face of it that sounds really excellent, don’t you think? Well, this chef-inspired dish turned out to have maybe a half-dozen small pieces of mixed veggies, probably 4 to 6 oz total, if not less. That’ll teach me to special order.
Needless to say, when we’re home, the vegetable portions tend to be a trifle bigger, and I love it. I served this zucchini and yellow squash sauté as a side to go with halibut en papilote. It matched well with the dish, I ate a lot and enjoyed every minute of it.
sautéed zucchini and yellow squash
2 Italian zucchini, cubed small
2 yellow squash, cubed small
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
½ tsp minced lemon thyme
Heat up olive oil in a skillet, sweat shallot then add garlic. In goes the zucchini, yellow squash, salt, pepper, chili flakes, parsley and thyme. Toss around for about 4 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and voilà!