I’ve always marveled at the simple fact that no matter what I do to myself in Paris, I always lose weight. And I do a lot to myself while I’m there. I do cheese-stuffed crêpes. I do Berthillon ice cream sundaes (can’t get enough of that raspberry whipped cream). I do pain au chocolate for breakfast, and tarte au citron for dessert. I do brioche. I do frites. I do steaks and cheeses and whole baguettes. I do rillettes. And confit. And tartare. And I always come home two pounds lighter.
I think I’ve figured it out. Aside from the fact that walking every which way in Paris is just about the most enjoyable form of exercise on God’s green earth, I also eat a ton of salads. There is a produce stand (if you can call it a stand–it’s half indoors) a block from my old apartment, where I still stay whenever I visit. It’s always brimming with a tumble of seasons vegetables, and baskets of Tiffany-caliber berry gems. You just have to eat them. Some of my favorite recipes are the salads I invent when I’m in France. Carrots with Dijon and walnuts. Pears with Roquefort. Peppers with roasted garlic. And mushrooms with parsley and lemon.
Champignon de Paris sounds far more glamorous than button mushroom, but they’re one in the same. As anyone who’s been to Paris will tell you: presentation is everything. The city is there to be glimpsed. The people, the buildings, the pastries. They all know an eye will eventually turn and rest on them, and they are always ready. A salad of champignons de Paris is no different. Slice the humble mushrooms beautifully and thinly in a food processor, then chuck the parsley and cheese in right along with them. Turn the whole bowl over, and top with lemon zest, olive oil, some bright wine vinegar, sea salt, and cracked black pepper. It’s not your everyday salad, but it’s so simple and clean and bright. I actually don’t think button mushrooms are good for much else. But they’re PERFECT for this. Bon app.
Excerpted from my weekly column French in a Flash on Serious Eats.
- 1 1/2- to 2-ounce chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
- 9 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, wiped clean
- The zest of 1 lemon
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
Fit your food processor with the thin slicer attachment. Push the Parmigiano Reggiano through first, then the parsley, and then the mushrooms. Remove the slicing disc, and put a serving plate over the food processor bowl. Invert the bowl, so the mushroom salad comes out with the mushrooms on the bottom and the parmesan on top.
Zest the lemon over the salad and top with cracked black pepper to taste. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, and salt until emulsified. Drizzle over the salad and serve right away.
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