Category Archives: France

White Bean Salad

I recently shared a pistachio pesto recipe from “Chocolate and Zucchini” – here’s another pesto dish from that cookbook.  This pesto is not your typical basil and pine nut combo, but definitely worth trying – a warm white bean salad with arugula and walnut pesto.

The original recipe calls for cooking dried white beans. I don’t have a lot of patience for cooking dry beans, and somehow they rarely end up as soft as the canned variety. In this dish, firmer beans would probably be ok – but for ease, I started instead with 2 cans of cannellini (white kidney) beans. I served the beans over a bed of fresh arugula tossed lightly with my favorite citrus viniagrette dressing. Delicious!

Warm Bean Salad with Arugula and Walnut Pesto
1/3 c. toasted walnuts
2 loosely-packed cups arugula leaves (about 2 oz.)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. good quality olive oil
1 shallot
2 cans white beans (I prefer cannellini)

In a food processor, blend together walnuts, arugula, lemon juice, olive oil, shallot and 1/2 tsp. salt to form the pesto.

Warm the beans in the microwave or a saucepan. Drain the liquid from the beans. Toss warm beans in pesto, taste for salt (adjusting if necessary), and serve.

Adapted from: Chocolate and Zucchini, by Cloitilde Dusoulier

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Pistachio Pesto

Last Sunday I popped over to the Farmer’s Market after church to pick up some fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs.  As usual, I ended up with more food than I could (or should) possibly eat in a week – what can I say, I’m a vegetable farmer’s daughter!  On my shopping list were cilantro and mint, and when I asked for those two herbs, learned that for $1 more I could have a third. Given the options, I chose basil.

With everything else to cook last week, I waited too long on the basil and it started wilting and turning brown. So I needed something quick to use a lot of basil, and immediately thought of pesto. Having recently received Clotilde Dusoulier’s “Chocolate & Zucchini” cookbook through paperbackswap.com (give me a referral credit if you decide to sign up, my nickname is crazy4food!), I flipped through the cookbook to see if there were any recipes involving pesto or basil. I had some pistachios leftover from Moroccan cooking, so I settled on this recipe for Pistachio Pesto.

Pistachio Pesto
1 c. pistachios (shelled and unsalted)
2 garlic cloves
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 c. (packed) basil leaves
1/4 c. Parmesan
1/2 c. good quality olive oil

In a food processor, mix the pistachios, garlic, pepper and salt and grind into a powder. Add lemon juice, basil and Parmesan and about half the olive oil. Process some more, adding olive oil until you reach the desired consistency. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

This makes a wonderfully-colored pesto which you can serve with bread, as a sandwich spread or a pasta sauce. The author even suggests using it to stuff cherry tomatoes as an appetizer. I personally love pesto inside a grilled cheese sandwich!

Adapted from: Chocolate & Zucchini, by Clotilde Dusoulier

Green pancakes – Farçous

I’ve been listening to Splendid Table podcasts while I cook, and this particular day they were describing a French pancake or thick crepe, called Farçous.  The recipe calls for swiss chard greens, but since I had some lovely beet greens waiting in the refrigerator, I decided to use those instead.  So I immediately went up to the computer, printed out the recipe from the website, and made a batch!

I ended up with these savory thin green pancakes which I greatly enjoyed with a little feta cheese on the side. They really are more like a thick crepe, as there’s no leavening in the pancake other than the eggs.

Find the recipe here: http://www.publicradio.org/columns/splendid-table/recipes/breakfast_chardpancakes.html – I just substituted beet greens instead, and then I cooked them in a non-stick pan with very little oil.  The recipe is blended together in a food processor with very little effort for a great reward.  Get your kids to eat their greens by telling them it’s an extension of green eggs and ham… and pancakes!