Raw vegetable plate, Maman Blanc
While my British friends enjoy the mighty roast beef, crudités are served in many homes in France every Sunday. Maman Blanc used to prepare it as a prelude to a big lunch with the extended family. A colorful and delicious celebration of the garden, it can be as simple as you like – even just grated carrot or celery with hard-boiled eggs and a mustard dressing will do.
Homework 5 minutes
Cook 1 hour 40 min
It serves 4-6
4 medium eggs (preferably organic or free range)
150g green beans
3 tlemon juice bsp
1 large cucumber
4 large, plump ripe tomatoes
2 large carrots
1 large lettuce – I like the ice queen
For the dressing
4 banana shallots, bare
40g Dijon mustard
25ml white wine vinegar
40 ml of warm water
150 ml peanut oil (or vegetable or sunflower oil)
Sea salt and black pepper flakes
Wash and cut the beets, put them in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for an hour and a half (you can steam them if you prefer). Let cool slightly, then peel and slice.
While the beets are cooking, prepare the other ingredients. Boil the eggs for 10 minutes, drain and cool in cold water for a minute, then peel while the eggs are still warm. Put in a bowl of cold water and cut in half just before serving.
Cover and strain the beans, blanch in boiling salted water for two minutes, then drain and cool in a container with ice water. Drain again and set aside.
Peel and finely chop or grate the celeriac into long strips (use a mandolin or spiralizer, if you have one), then mix with two tablespoons of lemon juice (this will prevent it from turning brown).
Peel and thinly slice the cucumber and chop the tomatoes into roughly 3 cm thick pieces. Peel the carrots, then grate and mix with a tablespoon of lemon juice. Pick up and wash the lettuce. Finely chop the shallots, put them in a colander, wash under cold running water and drain on kitchen paper.
Now make the dressing: put all the ingredients in a bowl, whisk to combine, then taste and correct the seasoning, if needed.
Put all the vegetables in separate bowls and prepare them as follows: Mix two tablespoons of the dressing with each of the beets, cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots; mix a tablespoon with the beans; and mix four tablespoons with the celeriac.
To assemble the dish, toss the lettuce leaves with three tablespoons of the dressing and place on a large serving plate. Place the seasoned vegetables on top of the lettuce and around the plate, garnish with the cooked egg halves, add a little extra dressing, if needed, and serve.
A quick ratatouille
What comes to mind first when you read this word? Is he the hero of the movie Ratatouille? Or is it this dish, that iconic vegetable, basil and garlic melting pot? Just the sound of the word takes me to Nice, where it is said to have originated. Nice once belonged to Italy, home of ketchup, and it still seems half-Italian today. Traditionally, ratatouille is a mild infusion of flavors simmered, but the virtue of this version is that it is quick, with the vegetables coarsely chopped to add plenty of texture. Experiment with different herbs, such as marjoram or basil, or enhance the flavors with a couple of pinches of caraway, cumin, or fennel seeds (for even more flavor, roast the seeds in a dry skillet first, then grind them). Ratatouille is delicious served warm or at room temperature, and even better if made a day in advance and reheated for a summer lunch or dinner.
Homework 5 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
It serves 4-6
1 white onion, bare
6 cloves of garlic, bare
1 large zucchini
1 red bell pepper
4 large, plump ripe tomatoes – as a true French, I like marmandes in this
8 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
4 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
4 pinches of sea salt flakes
6 to 8 turns of ground black pepper
Dice the onion, finely chop the garlic and reserve both on one side. Halve the zucchini and eggplant lengthwise, then cut into 2-3 cm pieces. Cut the pepper in half lengthwise, remove and discard the pith and seeds, then chop the pulp into pieces of about 2 cm. Coarsely chop tomatoes; size matters here, because these larger chunks add juice, color, texture, and flavor. Clever! Your preparation is ready.
Pour the oil into a large saucepan or saucepan over low heat. Let the oil heat for a moment, then add the onion, garlic, thyme, and rosemary, and sweat gently, stirring occasionally, for three to four minutes; do not let them brown.
Turn up the heat to high, add the zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper and tomato, season and stir (to make the dish even more lush, add a tablespoon of tomato puree or 100g of passata now too, if you like ). Cover the skillet, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring once or twice, for six to eight minutes, so the vegetables are steamed in their own fantastic juices.
Finally, taste and correct the seasoning, then serve straight from the skillet.
A spicy and cold marinade, originally from Spain and the south of France, escabeche is a technique for preserving meat, fish and vegetables. It’s also refreshing, flavorful, and full of contrasting textures, requiring at least 12 hours of marinating, so make it a day in advance. Serve as a summer salad or as a side with seared fish, sautéed prawns or a scallop ceviche. For an Asian flair, add some pickled ginger and finely chopped lemongrass to the pickle.
Homework 25 min
Marinate 12 hours
It serves 4
½ moles (Also known as daikon)
2 radishes for breakfast
¼ fennel bulb
1 shallot, bare
1 clove garlic, bare
1 sprig of basil
3 makrut lime leaves (Optional)
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
two oranges, juice
½ lemon, juice
3 pinches sea salt flakes
3 pinches powdered sugar
2 pinches Cayenne pepper
1 handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
two tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Peel the mooli and carrot, then finely slice widthwise, ideally with a mandolin. Finely chop the radishes, fennel and zucchini lengthwise. Put all the sliced vegetables in a bowl.
Finely chop the shallot widthwise and add to the mixture. Finely chop and mash the garlic with the flat of a knife, chop the basil and finely chop the lime leaves, if using, then add all three to the bowl.
Pour the oil and orange and lemon juice into the bowl, add the salt, sugar, and cayenne pepper, mix well, then cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
To finish, add the cilantro, then serve in a large bowl or in four individual servings. Just before serving, treat the marinade with a pinch or two of your best extra virgin olive oil.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism