Monday, October 27, 2008

Le Creuset, How Do I Love Thee?

Let me count the ways.

Okay, this post isn't necessarily about veggies, but more about what to cook veggies IN. And I have the answer for you in two words: Le Creuset.

When my friend Shannon mentioned this cookware to me, I thought two things: one, that's waaaay to expensive for my budget; and two, cast iron, heavy, hard-to-clean. Let me address your concerns and assure you that you, too, will fall in love with Le Creuset cookware.

Money first. Yes, the cookware is on the high end of the scale, but it's not out of reach. There is a Le Creuset outlet at the Legends Mall in Kansas City, KS. In the outlet, they have a huge selection of "seconds." The flaws in the seconds are very, very minor, for the most part, and the store employees are more than happy to help you examine the pieces and choose what is right for you. I can't even find the flaws on my seconds! Best of all, the seconds cost considerably less than the first quality items. Add to that: coupons. If you go to the Legends website, you can print out a monthly coupon which has discounts for many of the stores at the mall, including Le Creuset. Print it out for an additional 20% any item! Better yet, join the "preferred customer" mailing list (it's free!), and you will receive coupons in the mail, up to 35% off. I've been buying one piece at a time, which is the way to go for me.

So, if you're like me, you are reading a lot about plastics and all the problems they are causing in the environment and in our bodies. I am trying to use the healthiest cookware, serving ware, and storage ware that I can find. Most of my cookware has a non-stick coating. I honestly feel it is relatively safe, but still, I worry. Everything I've read says that cast iron, coated or not, is the healthiest choice. Le Creuset is heavy, but it heats and cooks perfectly evenly. You never have to cook over high heat; once the pot or pan is heated up, it stays hot on very low heat. You can cook on the stovetop and then put the pot straight into the oven. Best of all, the cookware has a lifetime guarantee. Guaranteed, no matter what. Seriously. Does it get any better than that?

Clean-up is a breeze. Anything that is crusty or baked on or cheesy or seems impossible really isn't. We just soak the pots in hot water for about 10 minutes and everything comes right off. Do I sound like an advertisement? For the record, I have no affiliation with the company whatsoever. I just like it!

Let's get to the veggie part. This deep frying pan is my favorite piece, for right now anyway. You'll notice that the inside is black, instead of the usual off-white color. Why? For BROWNING foods!! That is so exciting to me! I love veggie sausages, especially the Tofurky brand Italian sausages and kielbasa. One of the main downfalls is that they don't really brown very well, unless you saute them in a bunch of oil. And, if you overcook them, they actually get softer instead of firmer. This is no longer a problem! The Le Creuset pan browns the sausages easily without all the added fat.

So here is an easy recipe, using Italian sausages, vegetarian or not, Le Creuset or none:

First, brown your veggie sausages, then remove them from the pan. Next, heat a little bit of oil in the pan and saute sliced onions and garlic. Add some sliced bell peppers. When the vegetables are soft, add a can of diced tomatoes, a can of plain tomato sauce, basil and oregano to taste. When it's all hot and bubbly, dump the sausage back in and warm it all up and serve it on top of the pasta of your choice. Good on anything; especially good on ravioli!!

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