Spaghetti with Pistachio Pistou
I was vegetarian for almost my entire childhood, and this week’s French in a Flash for Serious Eats explains how it came to pass that I ate almost nothing but vegetables and pasta for a decade. But it was not without its travails, and in my version of the ugly duckling, Spaghetti with Pistachio Pistou, Fava Beans, and Mint was just the thing to help me find my wings. As always, the complete story and recipe are available here. Bon app!
Spaghetti With Pistachio Pistou, Fava Beans, And Mint
- 1 pound dry spaghetti
- 1 clove of garlic
- The leaves from 3 or 4 sprigs of mint, plus extra for garnish
- 1 1/4 cups shelled toasted unsalted pistachios
- 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan, plus extra to top the pasta
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup shelled blanched fava beans
- Salt and pepper
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- Cook the pasta until it is al dente in a large pot of well salted, vigorously boiling water.
- Meanwhile, make the pistou by smashing together the garlic, mint, salt, and pepper in a food processor.
- Add in the Parmesan and butter, and pulse until combined.
- Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking water.
- Toss the pasta with the pistou and the fava beans, moistening as necessary with the reserved cooking water. Top with sliced mint leaves, extra chopped pistachios, and Parmesan.
Aspagaragus with Aïoli
Mr. English says I make vegetables sexy; that I turn them from limp, lifeless little beings to foods that are exciting, and excited. So, it’s no surprise that in this week’s French in a Flash on Serious Eats, I am offering a menage a trois of asparagus.
When I was fifteen, I spent the summer in France, with a family that thought my vegetarianism was as foreign as my language and my politics. But when I learned what the French could do with vegetables, and when the French saw how this little American girl could appreciate them, we struck an Entente Cordiale. This salad began with my introduction to the succulent and sweet white asparagus, which I marry with pencil and green or purple stalks, coupled with an aioli sauce flavored with fines herbes (tarragon, chives, parsley, chervil).
Aioli was a sauce of which I’d always heard, but of which I never knew the origins. When I was in Provence (see the Papiers Provence here to follow my trip), I learned finally that the fresh garlic mayonnaise is actually a traditional Provencal sauce, and is often served in a dish also known as aioli, in which fish, vegetables, potatoes, and egg are served boiled and accompanied by the pungent, creamy dip.
This dish is far more simple, but I think more lovely and more delicate. Served chilled with a wedge of lime, this is the perfect spring-summer salad.
Chilled Asparagus with Fines Herbes Aïoli
serves 4 to 6
- A total of 2 pounds of asparagus, including white, purple, thick, and pencil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons chives
- 2 tablespoons tarragon
- 2 tablespoons chervil
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- Salt and pepper
- Lime wedges
Aïoli is a Provençal sauce made from garlic, egg yolks, olive oil, and lemon. It is, in its most iconic state, served in the dish also known as aïoli, which is boiled vegetables, fish, and egg, all served with the sauce. It is, and remains, all about t
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- Peel the stalks of any thick asparagus, and all the white asparagus.
- Bring a pot of water to boil, and salt it well. Blanch each type of asparagus separately. Pencil takes 30 seconds, thicker takes about 60 seconds, white 60-90 seconds. Immediately shock each bundle in ice water until completely cold.
- Make the aïoli by whirling together the garlic and the herbs, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper in a food processor. Then add the mayonnaise, and blend until it is a smooth sauce flecked with tiny bits of green.
- Serve the chilled asparagus with the aïoli sauce, and squeeze wedges of lime over the entire dish. Finish with flaked sea salt or fleur de sel.
Crème Fraîche Sorbet
When I was a girl, I had three little girlfriends: Kristen, Sarah, and Alexandra. Alexandra’s mother was called Medusa–at least figuratively. Every time I stood quaking before her towering frame in her frigid marble kitchen, I turned to stone.
One day I was in that kitchen doing something or other innocuous. Medusa asked if I’d like a cup of soda. My mother didn’t permit me to drink soda. “No,” I said simply, and turned to walk away, back to the puppet show we four were preparing in the other room. She grabbed by arm, the tips of her long, bony finger capped in blood red, razor-sharp tips. She hurt me. I turned, frightened, to look up at her. “Don’t be fresh,” she snarled. And let me go.
It’s time once again for my monthly column The Secret Ingredient over at Serious Eats. And I think this month in particular will be of particular interest to you, Revolutionnaires: Creme Fraiche.
Peas with Crème Fraîche
Creme fraiche is vastly underutilized in the States, and it’s a shame. Sour cream is close, but it’s really, really, well, sour. Creme fraiche is more understated, with a delicate tang accentuated by its voluptuous texture. It is resilient, and stands up to heat to make instant gratins, macaroni and cheeses, and cream sauces. It can wear sweet or savory with equal effortlessness and elegance.
Baked Pasta with Crème Fraîche
This month, I relate my misadventure of how I learned the many meanings of the word fresh, and throw together some simple spring-summer dishes: Perfect Creamy Spring Peas with Mint, The World’s Easiest Mac and (Four) Cheese with Zucchini and Thyme, and Creme Fraiche Sorbet with Berries. A perfectly fresh and fraiche menu…
Crème Fraîche Sorbet
Chausson aux Pommes
Did you know that in the late 1980s French version of The Little Mermaid, Ariel didn’t wear her seashell bikini top? Maman used the film to increase my French fluency, but I was so prudish and scarred that I didn’t speak another mot in French for ages.
In this week’s French in a Flash on Serious Eats, I discuss the nuances in French food language that create the ambiance around the dish. Chaussons aux Pommes are simply Apple Turnovers, but in French, they translate to Apple Slippers, a term as warming and evocative as the gooey apple-pie filling that oozes out from the crumbling, buttery puff pastry at every bitten opportunity. Served with cool cinnamon creme fraiche, this dish is all about mouth appeal: in language, and in taste. As always, click here for the full story and recipe.
Chaussons aux Pommes with Cinnamon Crème Fraîche
- 3 Golden Delicious apples
- 3 tablespoons sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1 tablespoon flour
- Pinch of salt
- The juice of 1/4 lemon
- 4 sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed but cold (from 2 boxes, preferably pure butter)
- 1 egg, beaten for an egg wash
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Peel and core the apples, and slice them into 1/2-inch slices. Toss with the 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, a pinch of salt, and the juice of 1/4 lemon.
- Roll out the puff pastry, using bench flour to prevent sticking, so that you can cut 2 circles the size of tea saucers out of opposite corners of each sheet of puff pastry: you will have 8 circles in all.
- Transfer the chaussons to 2 baking sheets, and bake for 20 minutes. The pastry will be golden, buttery, and flakey, and the apples will be gooey, oozing, and sweet. Serve warm with cold cinnamon crème fraîche (recipe follows).
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- Stir everything together, and chill.