This is a most rewarding method of cooking young, tender vegetables – retaining their crunch and vibrance often lost when boiling or steaming. Nothing bothers me more than limp, dull, mis-treated vegetables.
I feel boiling should be saved only for the hardest or oldest of vegetables and potatoes. Cooking young and tender varieties (especially green) in a big pot of boiling water tends to dilute their flavour and renders their colour insipid. By cooking the vegetables for a short while, in a little butter, water and seasoning you can be sure that all of those wonderful fresh flavours and colours are kept locked in.
Prepare your vegetables in the usual fashion; however, cut harder varieties into smaller pieces and leave those which are tender mostly whole or in larger pieces. The directions below are based on enough vegetables to feed four.
Place the vegetables in an appropriately sized saucepan with a large knob of butter. Season generously with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Add a good splash of cold water (around 1/4 to 1/2 a cup).
Place the saucepan on a high heat and cover. Cook for anything from 1 minute for very tender vegetables to 3-4 minutes for harder varieties. Thinly sliced carrots and broccoli will generally take around 3 minutes, courgette and asparagus 2 minutes.
Once ready, toss with a handful of finely chopped parsley and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Serve the vegetables basted with the cooking liquor.