You've probably heard of duck confit, but did you know that you can also turn vegetables into confit? The result is an unctuous treat that can be used as an instant hors d'ouvres (think confit on toast points), or mixed with whole grains or root vegetables to turn them into a luxurious side dish, mixed with pasta for a quick dinner, or used to create a vegetarian cassoulet.
Any chunky vegetable is a candidate for confit, but carrots, celery, cardoons or burdock stalks, artichoke hearts, cauliflower, broccoli stems and green beans are especially suitable.
How to Make Vegetable Confit
Preheat the oven to 225F.
Clean and, if necessary, peel the vegetables. Chop them into 1/2 to 1-inch pieces.
Per pound of vegetables, combine 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper. Toss the veggies with the salt and spices in a baking dish.
Cover the vegetables completely in extra-virgin olive oil. It is important that they are completely immersed in the oil or they will not be safely preserved. This may seem like an extravagant amount of oil, but keep in mind that A) it is a food safety issue, and B) you can use some of the confit oil as part of future recipes such as pasta with vegetables confit.
Bake the vegetables, uncovered, for 3 to 4 hours. There should be some bubbles forming and rising to the surface as the water in the vegetables evaporates, but it should never reach a boil.
Allow the vegetable confit to cool slightly, but don't wait until it is completely cooled or it may start to congeal. Spoon it into sterilized heatproof jars (wide mouth canning jars are perfect). Use a butter knife or spoon to press on the vegetable confit in the jars and thus remove any air bubbles. The vegetables must be completely covered by the oil.
Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Unlike duck and other meat confits, I don't recommend freezing vegetable confits for longer storage: the texture of the vegetables breaks down and becomes unappealing. Stick to making smaller batches and storing them in the refrigerator.