I love serving these either as an appetizer or as a light lunch entree, with a salad or a cup of soup. And no, you don’t have to use goat cheese if you don’t love goat cheese! Any semi-ripened or soft-ish cheese will do. Yes. Even Brie or Camembert.
I serve this platter numerous times every spring. It’s a great sit-down first course when you’re having guests. For a more casual dinner, just serve it with some cheese, pâté, bread — you know, a thoughtful array of small plates. Pass the rosé, of course!
A great asparagus appetizer recipe. Except you don’t really even need a recipe, of course. Just roast some asparagus, and arrange on a platter with olives, bread sticks, proscuitto….and some oeufs dur mayonnaise.
You know how it is: You go to the farmers market. You poke around and load up your basket with all that great food. You spend what seems like the entire morning chatting with everyone you know in town. By the time you’re heading home, you’re so hungry….and while you have armloads of great, fresh food, you want to eat right now. This is the recipe for those times. As long as you’ve picked up some goat cheese, and you have some pasta at home, you’re going to be just fine.
French Asparagus Pasta Recipe #2: Tagliatelles with Asparagus, Goat Cheese, and Other Farmers Market Goodies. My recipe is here.
And now: Turn to my classic French Vinaigrette Recipe, which will go perfectly on roasted asparagus. Just drizzle the roasted asparagus with the French vinaigrette. So easy! Serve as a side. Or, poach one egg per person and serve on top of the roasted asparagus as a first course. Or, soft boil some eggs and do the same, as in this photo:
This is divine. It’s a “see it/do it, nothing to it” recipe. Just soft-cook some eggs, roast some asparagus, drizzle with my French vinaigrette recipe, and—if you like—garnish with ham and thin radish slices. Photo by L. Richarz.
And now, here’s that recipe I promised: French Asparagus Pasta with Prociutto
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 scallions (white portion and some tender green tops), sliced (about ¼ cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon chicken base paste, such as Better than Bouillon or ½ teaspoon of crumbled chicken bouillon cube*
4 ounces soft-ripened or hard-aged goat cheese (crumbled if soft-ripened, grated if hard)
2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley or chives, or a combination
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
½ teaspoon Piment d’Espelette or ¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
¼ cup prosciutto, sliced into thin ribbons (about 1 ounce)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the tagliatelle according to package directions; drain, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water. Keep warm. Heat the olive oil in the pot used to cook the pasta over medium heat. Add the asparagus and cook until just tender-crisp, about 4 minutes.
Add the scallions and garlic and cook about 1 minute, until the scallions are slightly tender but not brown.
Stir the chicken base into the reserved pasta water. Off the heat, add the pasta water to the vegetables (stand back, it will spatter). Boil until slightly reduced, about 1 minute.
Return the cooked, drained pasta to the pot. Add the goat cheese, fresh herbs, and salt and pepper; toss well to combine. Let stand about 3 minutes (the pasta will absorb some of the liquid). If the pasta seems dry add a tablespoon or two of heavy cream and toss again, gently reheating the pasta if necessary.
Divide into shallow bowls. Scatter the Piment d’Espelette and the prosciutto ribbons evenly over the plates. Serve immediately.
* Chicken base, such as Better Than Bouillon, is a concentrated chicken paste available in jars in the supermarket, next to the dried bouillon cubes and granules. I find it tastes better than bouillon.
How do the French cook fish? What do they do that makes it taste so good? Here are two French recipes for cooking fish. One is a classic French fish recipe (“meunière”), and the other is a variation on that theme. Enjoy!
Here’s my 20-minute French recipe for sauteed fish. Trout is pictured, but just about any fish will do.
Did you see the movie Julie and Julia? Do you remember the beautiful moment where Julia Child, just off the boat, rhapsodized about the unforgettable fish dish she had for her first lunch—ever—in France?
That dish was sole meunière, and it’s easier to make than you might think. It’s the classic French method for cooking fish.
Meunière is French for “the miller’s wife.” As culinary legend has it, she was the lady with access to plenty of fish from the stream that powered her husband’s mill, and of course, she had plenty of flower for dredging it in, too.
The classic preparation requires just a few easy steps:
1. Dip the fish fillets in milk, then dredge them in flour. Shake off excess.
2. Heat about 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a pan; saute the fish until golden brown o both sides, turning once. Remove from pan; sprinkle with fresh parsley and/or chives.
3. Wipe out the pan; add 1/4 cup butter to the pan and cook until nut-brown and frothy. Pour this butter over the fish and sprinkle a little lemon juice over it all. Serve immediately.
That’s it! But if you need more detailed instructions, see the recipe, below. Once you’ve masted that, take it a step further, and make my variation, with browned garlic, parsley, pistachios, and celery.
The classic French recipe for fish: Meuniere. So easy, and yet, the best way to cook fish ever. Sole is pictured, but just about any fish will do. Photo credit.
A classic fish meunière, a French method for cooking fish that works for just about any fish you can find.
4 (6- to 8-ounce) skinless white fish fillets, such as haddock, halibut, grouper, sole, flounder, or cod (1/2 inch thick)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup 2 percent or whole milk
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley, chives, or chervil, or a combination
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Season both sides of each fish fillet with salt and pepper. Pour the milk into one shallow bowl and place the flour in another. Dip a fillet in the milk, letting the excess drip off. Dredge the fillet in the flour to lightly coat, shaking off the excess. Repeat with the remaining fillets.
Using a skillet that’s large enough to accommodate the fillets in one layer, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add fillets and cook, turning once, until fish is golden- brown on both sides and flakes easily with a fork, about 5 minutes (reduce the heat to medium if fish browns too quickly). Transfer fish to four serving plates.
Drain off any fat from the skillet and—taking care not to burn your fingers—wipe out the pan with paper towels. Add the butter and melt it over medium heat until nut-brown and frothy. Remove the pan from the heat.
Scatter the herbs over the fish fillets, sprinkle with lemon juice, and pour the browned butter on top. Serve immediately.
OK! Now that you’ve mastered the classic French way to cook fish, why not try one of my favorite variations on this theme? It only takes a handful more ingredients and about two minutes more of your time…but results in something extra.
I make this beautiful recipe with trout (it’s how I first enjoyed it somewhere in a little inn somewhere in the French Pyrénées), but honestly, cross my heart, you can make it with just about any good fish fillet. Simply adjust cooking time—a minute or two longer— for thicker pieces.
Trout Meunière with Celery, Pistachios, and Garlic Cloves
Makes 2 servings
2 8-ounce boned, pan-dressed trout (heads removed; tails removed if desired)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup 2% or whole milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup celery rib, very thinly sliced
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and cut into thin lengthwise slices
1 tablespoon snipped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons pistachio kernels, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
1. Rinse trout and pat dry. Spread each trout open into fillets; season both sides with salt and pepper. Pour the milk into one shallow bowl and place the flour in another. Dip a fillet in the milk, letting the excess drip off. Dredge the fillet in the flour to lightly coat, shaking off the excess. Repeat with the remaining fillet.
2. In a large skillet (at least 12 inches in diameter), heat the vegetable oil. Add the two trout, skin side up, and cook over medium to medium-high heat for 6 to 8 minutes or until fish is golden and flakes easily with a fork, turning trout once. Transfer to a warm platter; keep warm.
2. Carefully wipe out pan with paper towels. Add 2 tablespoons butter and heat over medium heat. Add celery and garlic; sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until celery is tender and garlic is golden-brown. Add parsley and cook briefly. Add pistachios and, if you like, red pepper flakes. To serve, spoon this mixture over trout.
PS: What? You’re cooking fish without a bonafide fish spatula? It’s an essential tool in my kitchen, and not just for fish. Flip burgers, pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches; lift cookies off the sheet—seriously, once you have this great little utensil, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.
And if you buy one through one of my Amazon affiliate links, you’ll help support this site without adding to your costs whatsoever. Thanks for your consideration! Save
Speaking of which….this year, we’re going a bit off the beaten path: We’ll start in Vienna, then head to Prague. After that, we’ll probably be having “France withdrawal,” so we’re flying to Geneva, then taking a train to Lyon. We’ll eat our way through Lyon for a few days (I haven’t been since I was doing “Europe on $25” a day, when I was 23!), then to Valence and Aix-en-Provence (where I haven’t been since I was 16!).
The apartment we’ve rented in Cassis. I hope it’s as charming as it looks!
As you probably know, we generally spend weeks at a time on the Mediterranean coast. Last year, we had this amazing realization that we knew the Rousillon coast (that French stretch near Spain) better than just about anywhere else in France. And we knew the Côte d’Azur equally well. And we’ve been through the Camargue (not my favorite place, by the way).
But what are completely less familiar with is….that slice of coast from Marseille to Toulon. In fact, I knew nothing at all about it, until we dipped into Sanury-sur-Mer last year, and went “wow! Where has THIS stretch of the Mediterranean been all our lives?
La Ciotat….Still looking for an apartment here, but doesn’t it look charming? Photo credit.
So, in my lifelong quest to know every curve of the bend on the French Mediterranean, this year, we’re renting apartments, for one week each, in Bandol, Cassis, and La Ciotat. Believe me, I’ll report back.
The kitchen of the apartment we’re renting in Bandol. One of the things that sold me was the front-load Euro washer! Love being able to do laundry in the apartment!
But meanwhile, if you have anything to tell me about where we’re going, I’d love to hear some leads: hotels, restaurants, beaches, walks, bars, wines, drinks, specialties: Anything at all! Truly, I’m all ears.
Yes. Cassis does look a little “precious,” doesn’t it? But I’ll give it a chance! What do you think? Photo credit.
So….on to today’s recipe:
I’ve been craving something that makes spring and France feel a little closer. Looking through my fave recipes, I realized I hadn’t made this dish for ages: Pasta with Salmon and Crème Fraîche.
This is a recipe you see often in casual French cafes and bistros. At home, it’s one of the best quick recipes ever, especially if you’re a fan of lox-style smoked salmon. The great thing is that most of the ingredients have long shelf lives in the pantry or refrigerator (except the fresh herbs—and you could substitute dried chives or dillweed in a pinch ). Keep everything on hand to get a true-to-France meal on the table quickly.
If you have any fresh spinach lying around, add it to the pasta when you add the salmon. The leafy green will add freshness, nutrients, and great color to the dish. Also, if you prefer the drier hard-smoked salmon over the soft and moist lox-style salmon, you could use that, though the latter is more French.
Hearty—Yet Bright and Colorful: A recipe for Salmon Pasta with Crème Fraiche
Salmon Tagliatelles is a French bistro classic.
8 ounces dried tagliatelle or fettuccine
1 cup creme fraiche OR ½ cup sour cream and ½ cup whipping cream
4 ounces lox-style smoked salmon (or use hard-smoked salmon if you prefer)
¼ cup snipped fresh chives or dillweed or 2 teaspoons dried chives or dillweed
Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water. Set the pasta water and pasta aside.
In the same pot you used to cook the pasta, whisk together the creme fraiche and the reserved pasta water until smooth. Bring to boiling over medium heat. Return the pasta to the skillet and cook until the sauce thickens a bit. Add the salmon and stir gently to heat through. Add the chives or dillweed.
Divide among four wide, shallow bowls and serve.
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