Green Peppers and Summer Tomatoes Salad

In our bright and sunny Ardèche summer days, my grandfather would come back from ‘le potager’ (vegetable garden) with the deliciously ripe tomatoes and green peppers he had just picked.
When I received the beautiful long and light colored green peppers and varieties of tomatoes from the farm this week, they reminded me of those Ardèche days and my memory was instantly bringing their flavors back to my taste buds. This is one of the simplest and easiest salads to prepare and most delicious so long as you have fresh farm ingredients.

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Some days we would add a few filets of anchovies to complete the plate. With or without the anchovies, the salad is full of flavors, with the crunchy freshness from the green pepper and the juicy sunshine bursting out of the ripe tomatoes.

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Ingredients:
4 slicer tomatoes
12 Juliet tomatoes
2 cups Sun Gold tomatoes
4 green peppers
A few springs fresh rosemary
12 anchovy filets (optional)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 Tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper

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Slice the tomatoes thickly and evenly to form a bed on each plate.

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Core the green peppers, rinse them under running water to remove seeds.

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With a long and thin slicing knife, cut the inner white membranes being sure the leave the outer skin intact.

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Thinly slice the green pepper to create rings showing their outer shapes.

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Start to display sliced tomatoes and green peppers on plates.

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Quarter the Juliet tomatoes. Remove the stems of the Sun Gold tomatoes.

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Artfully arrange all the tomatoes on the plates.

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Remove the fresh and tender rosemary leaves from the stems.

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Chop them finely. Also chop the garlic.

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Place mustard, chopped rosemary, garlic, salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Mix well together.

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Add vinegar and olive oil. Mix vigorously to fully incorporate all ingredients.

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Drizzle rosemary vinaigrette over the plates. Sprinkle with extra chopped rosemary.

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Add anchovies if using and enjoy!

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Eggplant Mousse

We obviously grow a lot of eggplants in Provence in the summer time, and we have a myriad different ways to prepare them. My mother used to make “Mousse d’Aubergine” for us fairly frequently. This recipe was one of my brothers’ and my favorites. So making it is always reminiscent of the summer lunches we would share out on the patio. Here in Chicago, it is wonderful served as a brunch as well as an accompaniment to a dinner.

20130817-165847.jpgWhen I spoke to my mother about the fact I was going to share this recipe on my blog, she admitted that lately she hadn’t been making it, because it contains cream and she no longer tolerates lactose well. So I made this recipe with almond milk instead, and it turned out delicious. You can enjoy it either way, depending on your dietary preferences.

20130818-073846.jpgIngredients:
2 large organic eggplants
3 eggs
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 large organic tomato
1 large shallot or small onion
1 garlic clove
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
3-4Tbsp olive oil
Fresh chives for decoration
Preheat oven to 400F

20130818-073920.jpgCut the eggplants in half and brush olive oil on the the inside.

20130818-074009.jpgPlace on a baking sheet face down and bake for about 40-45 minutes.

20130818-074040.jpgMeanwhile prepare the tomato sauce by peeling and chopping the onion and garlic. To save time, my mother did to always peel and seed the tomatoes, so here I simply removed the hard green core from the stem and chopped the tomatoes country-style. The texture will be a bit more grainy than if you peel and seed them, so if you prefer a smoother texture, please refer to my Mussels with in Orange, Tomato and Saffron sauce recipe to see the technique on how to peel and seed tomatoes.

20130818-074116.jpgHeat the olive oil and add the chopped onion. Reduce the heat to simmer until the onion melt and become translucent.

20130818-074212.jpgAdd the chopped tomatoes and garlic. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes until soft and cooked. Season with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.

20130818-075254.jpgUsing a spoon, scoop the eggplant away from the skin. It should detach very easily when cooked.

20130818-074533.jpg Drain the eggplant in a colander for a few minutes to remove excess water.

20130818-074734.jpg Place in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

20130818-074822.jpg Process till smooth.

20130818-074857.jpg Transfer the eggplant to a bowl and add the almond milk. Mix well.

20130818-074946.jpg Separate the egg yolks and reserve the whites for whisking. When the eggplant is cool enough so it won’t cook the egg yolks, add them one at a time mixing energetically and well. Season with nutmeg and freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.

20130818-075329.jpg Whisk the egg whites until stiff with a pinch of salt.

20130818-075407.jpgAdd about 1/4 to 1/3 of the whisked egg whites to the eggplant mixture and mix well.

20130818-075445.jpgFold in the remaining egg whites until fully incorporated.

20130818-075620.jpgPour the mixture into individual soufflé dishes, or one large one depending on how you intend to serve it. Place the dish(es) in a water bath and bake for about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the soufflé dish you are using.

20130818-075727.jpgThe mousse is ready when the top is golden brown.

20130818-075805.jpg Top with a thin layer of tomato sauce, decorate with some fresh chives, and enjoy!

My Grandmother’s Bohemienne Eggplant

Another Provençal classic we used to enjoy spending summer vacation at my grandmother’s. This dish is similar to the more widely known ratatouille, but simpler in its combination of ingredients, neither using zucchini nor bell peppers. Sometimes also known as ‘poor man’s ratatouille’, simple in its preparation, it is best prepared in an enameled cast iron pot with a cover, which evenly conducts the heat and is well suited for slow cooking.

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We used to serve this accompanied by long grain Camargue rice. Here I served it using the other vegetables I received in our weekly share from the local farm in Chicago, which included delicious fresh greens and small red potatoes. When my boyfriend had his first taste, he exclaimed: “such a delicate flavor!”
Try it out!

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Ingredients:
2 small to medium eggplants
2 large or 6 small tomatoes
1 small long onion or large shallot
1garlic clove
3 tbsp Olive oil
Freshly ground sea salt
Chives
Enameled cast iron pot with cover
Preheat oven to 350F

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Peel and chop the onion finely.

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Place the olive oil in the bottom of an enameled cast iron pot. Place on the stove over medium heat.

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Add the onions and turn the heat down to low to slowly melt them till translucent.

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Chop the tomatoes in small cubes.

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Add the tomatoes, a little salt and continue cooking slowly.

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Cut the eggplants in small stripes and cubes.

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Add the eggplant to the melted onion and tomatoes.

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Peel and crush the garlic to chop it finely.

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Add garlic to the cooking mixture, and a little more generous salt.

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Add about 1/4 cup of water and cover the pot.

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Place in the preheated oven and bake for about one hour.

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Once the Bohemienne is cooked, spoon out immediately on plates accompanied by rice or potatoes if serving hot. This is also delicious cold.

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Here, served with the beautiful farm greens and sautéed cubed potatoes. Enjoy!

Anchoïade

This traditional summery sauce is served with crudités, which are basically raw vegetables. Usually some radishes, fennel, Belgium endive, or any other crisp vegetable you enjoy eating raw. It can be served as an appetizer, on a large platter shared between guests, or as a light lunch on individual plates.

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Infused with garlic and anchovies as the main ingredients, anchoïade is a rather strong flavored sauce. Only a small amount suffices to fully savor its distinct taste.

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Ingredients:
A bunch red radishes
1 fennel bulb
2 carrots
1 cauliflower
2 Belgium endives
4 oz anchovies preserved in oil
1/2 cup first cold press extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic (can use only 2 cloves if too strong)

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Clean radishes by trimming the greens and bathing them in a bowl of water, changing it a few times until the water is clear.

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Trim the ends and cut the radishes in halves or quarters. Set aside.

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Wash and cut the ends of the endives to unfold the leaves. Keep trimming the ends that hold the leaves together to easily separate them as you get closer to the center. Set aside.

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Peel and cut carrots in long sticks. Set aside.

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Cut the bottom leaves of the cauliflower and core the center.

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Cut off each floret starting from the bottom, and separate from the main stem going around.

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Cut each floret into smaller pieces. Set aside.

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Wash and cut the fennel bulb in half. Then slice thinly. Set aside.

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Start arranging vegetables on plate.

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Gather the anchoïade ingredients. Again, you may use less garlic and more olive oil depending on your personal preference.

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Peel and cut garlic in half. Place the cloves in the food processor fitted with a steel blade and process till finely chopped.

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Add the anchovies to the bowl containing the chopped garlic and process till smooth.

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Scrape down the garlic/anchovy mixture and place the cover back on top.

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Feed the olive oil through the neck of the cover while processing to fully incorporate. Taste to decide if you would like more olive oil.

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Pour the anchoïade in individual serving dishes.

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Finish arranging vegetables on plates. Place the anchoïade in the center.

20130805-095349.jpg if you are serving as a lunch, you might add a couple hard boiled eggs.
Enjoy!