Tag Archives: french

Eiffel Tower Salad

Earlier this summer, I had the amazing opportunity to go to Paris. I went for a few days back in college, so it wasn’t my first trip. But it was fun to go with adults and not with a college mind set. Art and museums and culture were very exciting, but delicious FOOD was high on my priority list. And Paris delivered (of course).

This salad blew my mind away. I got it at a little restaurant right next to the Eiffel Tower. Everything about it was just amazing. This is my best recollection of it. Enjoy!

Eiffel Tower Salad (Serves 1)

Eiffel Tower Salad

2 cups spinach or mixed greens
⅓ cup chopped tomatoes
1 inch of cucumber, sliced thin
½ cup cooked and chilled green beans (see note)
1 ounce blue cheese
1 hardboiled egg, sliced (optional)
2 tablespoons light honey mustard dressing

1. Layer ingredients, top with dressing. Serve immediately.

Note on green beans: While you could use canned green beans, they are among my absolute least favorite foods in the whole world. To be delicious and authentic, you want fresh green beans. Cook these for 2-3 minutes (just until they turn bright green) in boiling water. Then remove and put in ice water to stop the cooking. Chill until ready to use. You want the green beans cold.

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 293
Protein: 16 gm
Fat: 17 gm
Saturated Fat: 7 gm
Cholesterol: 207 mg
Carbohydrates: 21 gm
Fiber: 4 gm
Sodium: 694 mg

Source: my memory from a restaurant in France

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Slow Cooker Ratatouille and Polenta

December is such a busy time of year for most of us. Lots of gatherings, shopping, school functions, sporting events, etc. I usually have a pretty open schedule and found myself booked 3 of the 5 work days this week. What?! However, busyness doesn’t mean you have to get take out. You are spending enough money everywhere else this month, you don’t need to eat out a ton too.

Enter your slow cooker. This awesome piece of kitchen equipment is the busy cook’s best friend. Throw some food in early in the day, cook some sort of starch to go with it, and you are good to go.

This ratatouille is perfect for a cold December night. Super hearty and filling, you won’t even miss meat. The goat cheese in the polenta adds the perfect tang. It’s just all around delicious. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Ratatouille and Polenta (Serves 6-8)

Slow Cooker Ratatouille and Polenta

Ratatouille:
2 large eggplants, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
3 medium zucchini, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 tablespoon salt
1 ½ tablespoons canola oil
2 small red or yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-­inch pieces
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
¼ cup all-­purpose flour
¼ cup tomato paste
2 (14.5 ounce) cans no salt added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves

Polenta:
6 cups low-­sodium vegetable or chicken stock
1 ½ cups polenta or cornmeal (not instant)
½ teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces fresh goat cheese

1. Place the eggplant and zucchini in a large colander and toss well with the salt; let sit for about 45 minutes. Rinse well to remove the salt, then dry well, gently squeezing out excess water with a kitchen towel. Add to the slow cooker that has been lightly greased with cooking spray.

2. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-­high heat. When warm, add the onions, bell peppers, and garlic and sauté until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the flour and tomato paste. Cook until the mixture is thickened
and the flour disappears, about 1 minute. Increase the heat to medium high and add the tomatoes with their juices, thyme, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, crushing the tomatoes a bit with a wooden spoon, until thickened and smooth, about 6 minutes.

3. Mix with the vegetables in the slow cooker. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low 4-6 hours or high 2-3 hours, until the vegetables are tender. Turn off slow cooker and stir in Parmesan cheese and basil.

4. About 30 minutes before vegetables are done, add the stock, cornmeal, and ½ teaspoon pepper to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-­high heat, whisking frequently to prevent lumps. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring frequently, until creamy and thickened, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and goat cheese.

5. To serve, ladle polenta into individual bowls, spoon ratatouille on top, and serve immediately. Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 330
Protein: 12 g
Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 18 mg
Carbohydrates: 46 g
Fiber: 8 g
Sodium: 579 mg

Recipe Notes: The eggplant is less bitter if you peel it and if you let it sit a bit with the salt. If you are pressed for time, it will still work if you don’t do either step. It might be a bit more watery, but not enough to kill it. I don’t love the taste of cooked red onions generally, so I prefer to mix and match here. I’m sure fresh herbs would be delicious here, but I don’t remember to buy them or the store doesn’t have the one I want. If you can’t find or don’t eat goat cheese, I would probably sub in more Parmesan. Or maybe cream cheese. I tried blue cheese once and didn’t love the combination personally, but it is an option as well.

Source: Slightly adapted from Epicurious.com

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Ham and Spinach Gratin or “It’s Not Quiche”

A few years ago, I received both volumes of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Honestly, most of my attempts to make recipes from them have not been huge successes.  Even the infamous potage parmentier did not turn out very well.  This gratin recipe – essentially a crustless quiche – is the exception and has become a staple in our house.

This recipe is necessary in your repertoire for several reasons.  First, it is incredibly easy.  This is the first recipe I actually braved cooking after I had a baby.  That easy.  Second, it is very adaptable to whatever you have on hand.  Change up the meat, vegetables, and cheese to your liking.  Third, it looks and tastes fancy, even though it isn’t.  We eat breakfast for dinner one night a week, and this takes it a whole new level compared to my usual pancakes.

Enjoy!

Ham and Spinach Gratin  (Serves 4)

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1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 ounces ham, sausage, or bacon, diced or crumbled
5 large eggs
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
2 cups shredded potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes if fresh)
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375. Place pie pan in oven with butter to melt while preheating.

2. Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until beginning to become tender. Add meat; cook until heated (ham) or cooked through (sausage or bacon). Set aside.

3. Whisk eggs with milk and seasonings in a medium bowl.

4. Drain thawed spinach well, squeezing in paper towels to remove excess water. Squeeze freshly shredded potatoes or thawed frozen potatoes also.

5. Add onion/meat mixture, spinach, potatoes, and cheese to eggs, stirring just to combine. Remove pie pan from oven. Pour in egg mixture. Return to oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until eggs are cooked through. Let cool slightly before serving.

Nutritional Information (Amount per Serving):

Calories: 308
Protein: 17 g
Fat: 16 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 254 mg
Carbohydrates: 25 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 486 mg

Recipe notes: I cut down on the butter A LOT from the original recipe. I also added the spinach. Any seasoning combination of herbs and spices works. I’ve mainly used white cheeses, such as mozzarella and Swiss, but you could use one that matches your flavors of the other mix-ins. It is very important to drain the spinach and potatoes well. Also, sweet potatoes do not work well in place of the white potatoes. Your potatoes may turn a little brown/red after grating. That’s ok.  I have mixed all of the ingredients in a bowl and then refrigerated it for a couple hours before pouring in a hot pan and baking.  It worked well, although I don’t know if it would work well overnight.

Source: Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I

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