In a large saucepan, set up a vegetable steamer over an inch of water and set over medium-high heat. When the water begins to boil, place the prepared carrots, potatoes and/or beets in separate shallow piles on the steamer rack. (If using beets, keep them away from the others, or you’ll have a lot red vegetables.) Steam, tightly covered, until the vegetables are tender but still retain a little firmness, 8 to 12 minutes, depending on their cut and condition. If one vegetable is done before the other, remove it with a large spoon or tongs. Cool the vegetables in separate groupings on a large tray. Next, steam the green beans and/or fresh peas, tightly covered: 5 to 8 minutes for beans, anywhere from 4 to 20 minutes for the peas (depending on the size and freshness). When the green vegetables are done, remove them and cool with the other vegetables. Frozen peas need only be defrosted and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the radishes, cucumbers and/or tomatoes with the well-drained, cooked vegetables.
A few minutes before serving, measure the lime juice, oil, salt, pepper and optional fresh coriander or parsley into a small bowl or a jar with tight-fitting lid; whisk or shake until thoroughly blended. Pour onto the vegetables and mix well.
Line a large serving platter with lettuce leaves. Once again, toss the vegetable mixture with the dressing, then scoop it onto the platter. Garnish the edges with the optional watercress. Top with slices of hard-boiled egg, rings of red onion, and a sprinkling of the optional fresh cheese.
Timing and Advance Preparation
The time involved depends on the number of vegetables you choose and how quickly you can prepare them: Allow about 1 hour. The cooked vegetables may be prepared a day ahead, the raw vegetables several hours in advance. Dress the salad at serving time.