Summer Egg Tortilla with Zucchini, Almonds, and Prosciutto

Here is a recipe I made for lunch the other day, highlighting one of my favorite summer ingredients: zucchini, a type of summer squash.  Its soft, dark green exterior gives way to a meaty and flavorful interior that tastes delicious as is with just a splash of lemon juice and a bit of salt, but which also tastes great in a number of salads, soups, sautes, and roasts.

I decided here to saute it quickly and combine it in an egg tortilla of sorts (think more of an egg wrap) with toasted and sliced almonds, feta, and prosciutto.  I chose not to use the Italian-style prosciutto from where the ingredient’s name finds origin, opting instead for a Spanish style prosciutto, or “jamon Serrano,” whose thin and flavorful slices provide a melt-in-your-mouth texture and a delightfully salty ham taste.

The egg wrap itself has fresh chopped herbs mixed in so every bite packs a punch.  I made this for a lighter lunch but you can instantly make this dish more substantial by wrapping all ingredients up in a soft, pillowy tortilla.

You will have leftover zucchini, which I recommend tossing with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and serving as a side salad with your egg wrap.  Enjoy!

Summer Egg Tortilla with Zucchini, Almond, Feta, and Prosciutto – serves 1

  • 2 eggs (large organic preferably – from local farmer even better!)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped herbs, such as chives, parsley, cilantro, or mint
  • 1 small handful sliced almonds
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 slices prosciutto, shredded with your hands into bite-size pieces
  • 2-3 tablespoons feta cheese

1. In a shallow bowl, whisk eggs vigorously until well combined. Add herbs, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
2. Heat a small skillet on medium heat. Add almond slices and toast until browned and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove almonds from skillet and set aside.
3. Return skillet to medium heat and add half of butter, cooking until it starts to bubble. Add half of zucchini and a pinch of salt. Cook until zucchini is golden, stirring frequently, about 4-5 minutes. Remove zucchini from skillet.
4. Add rest of butter. Once butter is melted and just starting to bubble add eggs, and don’t stir. Tilt pan occasionally and slide eggs toward center of pan to let uncooked egg slide to bottom of skillet. Once bottom side of eggs has set, use an inverted plate to flip it over (place plate over skillet – flip eggs onto plate, slide eggs back into skillet so uncooked side is facing down). Cook about 30 seconds longer, or until eggs have just set.
5. Slide eggs onto plate. Top with prosciutto, feta, zucchini, and almonds. Roll and hold in place with toothpicks. Enjoy!

Apricot and Cherry Millefeuille with Avocado and Melon

Pretty much everything I love about summer is summed up on this plate – delicious ingredients (mostly fruits and vegetables) full of flavor, that require very little preparation to make a meal.

Perhaps I should begin by saying that I have been a fruit fiend for all of my life, ready to pass up a plate of fries for a giant bowl of fruit any day.  What I’ve learned in France, however, is that fruit is only meant to be enjoyed during the right season.  While I grew up in Boston enjoying blueberries in December and green seedless grapes all year round, I quickly learned here, mainly by the stares I received by old French women and market vendors when trying to purchase a bag of grapes in winter, that there is absolutely no point in eating something out of season, because the seasonal stuff tastes so much better.  And I have to hand it to the French, because they’re absolutely right.  I now find myself dreaming about the enormous and tender black figs that are in season here through late summer and early fall – I distinctly remember eating my first one upon arriving in France in 2009, and just staring at it after my first bite.  I was shocked to know that a fruit could contain so much life and taste.  The other day when I saw a few of the same figs at a fruit stand in the Marais, I got so excited and quickly rushed to the vendor in order to have my first bite.  Imagine my disappointment when the fruit vendor confiscated my figs from me: “ne prenez pas ces figues - elles n’ont aucun goût.  Elles seront bonnes en août – don’t buy these figs, they have no taste.  You have to wait until August.” I like to think he was looking out for me.  One can never be too sure though…

Although I still sometimes yearn for a giant bag of seedless green grapes to munch on while surfing the internet at home in the wintertime, I admit that every minute of the wait is worth it, because the fruit season is in full force and everything I eat is bursting with flavor.   Of course, there are always exceptions (France is, after all, the land of paradoxes), which is why no one has qualms eating avocados from Chili throughout the year, in addition to green beans from Africa.  But I’m not judging, I’d rather join.

So I made you a fruit salad that I just love, with a dressing similar to what I made for the Avocado and Mint recipe (mint, olive oil, and honey, with the addition of lime juice).  I wanted to present it in the form of a millefeuille because I was excited about the prospect of taking a photo this way, but in terms of flavor combinations I would recommend just tossing everything together, because the creamy avocado will envelope the other ingredients and give them a wonderful, slightly savory touch.

If you are thinking of making this for a light lunch, I would recommend pairing it with a sweet white wine such as riesling or gewurztraminer from the Alsace region of France.  Unfortunately I don’t know other wine regions from other countries well but hopefully you catch my drift.

Lastly, if you make this recipe you will find yourself left with half of a melon and half of an avocado.  For the melon, I recommend wrapping it in plastic wrap and saving it in your fridge for the next few days.  To prevent the avocado from browning, sprinkle it with lemon or lime juice and place in a sealed plastic container, so it will keep for a day or two in your fridge.  If you’d like, you could dice them both up and combine them both with some crabmeat, lime juice, and olive oil the next day to make another delicious and refreshing salad.  Just an idea – if you have any other suggestions for what to do with leftover avocado and melon, please write them!

Bon appétit!

Apricot and Cherry Millefeuille with Avocado and Melon - serves 1
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1 melon, halved, seeds discarded
1 avocado, halved, pit removed
1/2-cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
1 tablepoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 apricots, halved, pits removed, thinly sliced
about a dozen dark cherries, pits removed, thinly sliced
1 handful toasted slivered almonds
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1. Using a knife, cut around the edge of the melon half, then working from the center outward in a circular motion, cut into thin slices. Scoop out with a spoon, and place melon slices flat around the edge of a large plate.
2. Use one half of the avocado and reserve the other half for another use. Thinly slice the avocado, scoop out gently with a spoon, and place in between the melon slices.
3. In a bowl, combine a few sliced mint leaves with the honey, olive oil, and the juice of 1/2 of the lime. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Place three of the apricot slices in the center of the plate. Top with several cherry slices, then with some sliced mint. Top the mint with three more apricot slices, and repeat in this manner until you have no more apricot, cherry, or mint left.
5. Drizzle everything with the honey and lime mixture, then with the toasted almonds.

Oil- and Honey-Filled Avocado with Mint

If you like avocados you will surely like this recipe; it is simple and straightforward, and the beauty of each ingredient (keep in mind there are only five!) really comes out.  Because of the simplicity of the dish, it is a good idea to round-up the best quality of everything you can find – ripe avocados, local honey, and good quality olive oil.  In my case, I used a fruity olive oil from Provence, that I gave to my sister Yasmin as a gift.  I haven’t asked if she agrees with me, but I think the complexity of the oil, combined with the sea salt, honey, and mint, helps to turn this appetizer from something good to something noteworthy.  However, I invite you to try this recipe with whatever you have on hand, a ripe and creamy avocado will never taste bad, especially when filled with honey, oil, and fresh mint!

I think this dish proves what a lot of people, including myself, are constantly discovering: that the best food is always the most simple, optimally made with local and seasonal ingredients.  If you’re like me, and you live nowhere near mint bushes or avocado trees right now, hopefully you are somewhere near a town or country that does grow them!  This is great as an appetizer, served before pasta or fish. 

Boooon appétit!

Oil-and Honey-Filled Avocado with Mint – Serves 1
1 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon of your favorite honey
1 heaping tablespoon fresh chopped mint
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Optional: 1 lemon (for to squeeze the juice out of)
1.  Cut the avocado in half lengthwise.  Remove the pit, and place each half, cut side up, on a plate.
2.  In a small bowl, combine the honey, mint, and salt.  Whisk in the olive oil one tablespoon at a time.  Adjust seasoning to taste, add more olive oil or honey if desired, and some lemon juice if using.
3.  Pour into each avocado cavity; serve immediately.

Sugar Snap Peas with Caramelized Onions, Thyme, and Mint

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I had to make this twice today, because the first time around I had it in my head to make this recipe with the pods as well.  Maybe it’s because it’s a little early in the season for snap peas (they are best eaten late spring/early summer),  but the pods were neither crispy nor tender, just somewhere uncomfortably in the middle.  So the second time around I removed them from the pods and I’m much happier with what came out! If you decide to make this more into the snap pea season, perhaps you can throw the whole pods in and be happy with the results, something to think about for the future.

This is really easy, as you know I like my recipes to be, and only requires 5 ingredients.  I think you could also chop the onions finer, to make consistency taste a little different; in that case, you will probably need to sautee the onions for about 10-15 minutes, rather than 20-25 minutes as stated in the recipe.

Happy easter, happy Sunday, hope you’re sharing it with the people you love!

Sugar Snap Peas with Caramelized Onions, Mint, and Thyme – serves 1
12-15 sugar snap peas
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme (dried is ok too)
1 tbsp fresh chopped mint (dried in not as ok here, but you could probably use it too)
1.  Using a knife or your fingers,  pop open the snap peas, remove the peas inside, and put them in a small bowl. Discard the pods.
2.  Heat the olive oil in a medium (8- to 10-inch) skillet over medium heat.
3.  Add the onion and thyme; sprinkle with a pinch each of salt and pepper.  Sautee onions until softened and golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.
4.  Add the peas and sautee until peas have turned bright green in color, about 2-3 minutes.
5.  Remove from heat and stir in the mint.  Serve.
نوش جان!

>Roasted Beet and Blood Orange Salad with Mint and a Sherry-Orange Vinaigrettte

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A touch of summery brightness produced by winter fruits and vegetables.  I’m always amazed that even during the dreary and drab winter months (and anyone currently living in Paris can attest that this winter has been particularly dismal), such bright produce as burgundy-colored beets and fiery oranges can come to fruition (no pun intended!).  If not for the sharp and refreshing taste, I would suggest making this just to have something colorful and uplifting to look at and consume while it’s so colorless outside. 

Blood oranges are really interesting to me, mainly because of their taste.  Although they are clearly oranges, and resemble their close relative, the navel orange, there is a certain tang to them which makes it clear that they must be at least cousins to the lemon.  Additionally, their color is almost mesmerizing, a deep and intoxicating orange which conjures up images of a perfect, oasis-like sunset. 

Although its title may sound fancy, this recipe only includes 6 ingredients; the flavor is mainly brought out by making the most of each component.  Using the juice, segments, and zest from the blood oranges gives the salad an uplifting and well-rounded completion, while the sherry vinaigrette coats each cube of beet and orange to a silky and creamy perfection.

I don’t know how people feel about buying pre-roasted beets, but I will say that I have no problem with it,  especially considering that today in the grocery store I couldn’t find raw beets and had to take what I could get.  I’ll include instructions for roasting beets (which takes about 1 1/4 hours), but I would say that either type of beet, pre-cooked or raw, will work well in this salad. 

This recipe makes about 1/2-cup of dressing, which is probably about twice more than you will need.  I would suggest saving it and using it on greens later, or roasting beets another evening and pouring this dressing over them.

If you’d like to make this a more substantial meal, I would suggest adding toasted nuts (pine nuts, chopped walnuts, cashews, pecans, or pistachios) or a cheese, probably goat cheese, although maybe other types would go nicely too.  You can also serve this over some leafy greens such as butter lettuce or perhaps even romaine.  Feel free to experiment, and please enjoy thoroughly.  Muchas gracias.  My new boss is Spanish and I hope to learn a thing or two from her in the ways of the spanish language – I’ll keep you posted, besos.

Roasted Beet and Blood Orange Salad with a Sherry-Orange Vinaigrette – serves 100 (just kidding – serves 1)

1 beet
2 blood oranges
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
3-4 tablespoons olive oil

To construct the salad:
1.  If using raw beets, preheat the oven to 425 degrees; wrap the beets in aluminum foil and roast until tender and can be easily pierced with a fork, about 1 1/4-hours.
2.  Once beets are cool enough to handle (or if using pre-cooked beets start here), peel the beet and cut in half length-wise.  Cut beets into small cubes, and place in a medium bowl.
3.  Zest one of the oranges in order to obtain 1 tsp orange zest, and add it to the bowl with the beets.  Peel the same blood orange, and chop the segments into cubes or smaller pieces. Place in the bowl with the beets. Add the mint, sprinkle with a dash of pepper, and toss to combine.
To make the dressing:
4.  Slice the remaining blood orange in half; squeeze the juice from one of the halves into a small bowl, and pour in the chopped shallot and sherry vinegar. 
5.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil, until combined.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, adding additional olive oil if dressing is to acidic for your tastes.
6.  Pour about half of the dressing (or as much or as little as you’d like) onto the beets and oranges.  Toss to combine; place in the refrigerator and let marinate for about 20 minutes. 
7.  Remove from the fridge, squeeze in some of the juice from the remaining blood orange half, and serve.  Gracias amigos!

>Floured Chicken with Pomegranate and Pistachio

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Taking a break from my paper on social determinism in the French educational system (grâce à mon cher ami, Pierre Bourdieu), to write about a delicious dinner I made tonight and which I sincerely hope you try.  It features a combination of strong and separately delicious flavors, notably pistachios, pomegranate, turmeric, and mint, spread under and over a slightly floured and fried chicken breast.  The best part is it only takes 20 minutes to put together!
This is a side note, but in my opinion a rather important one:  when choosing your chicken breast, please try to purchase a piece of meat that is about 1/2-inch thick, maybe a little thicker.  I can’t be the only one who has walked into a grocery store only to find chicken breasts that are about 2 inches thick, and clearly pumped with all types of hormones that I’m not comfortable eating (and you shouldn’t be either!).  Please stay away from the latter type of breast, and stick with the thinner ones; it not only seems more natural and logical to me, but anything thicker negatively affects the cooking time in the recipe.
Ok, on to more positive thoughts:  a delicious piece of chicken.  The pomegranate paste (the same as used in the walnut-pomegranate spread recipe), adds a tangy, slightly bitter sweetness which complements the nutty, sweet, salty, and herby flavors provided by the pistachios and mint.

I would suggest serving this with any roasted or sauteed seasonal vegetables, such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, or artichokes, or with a green salad tossed with balsamic vinaigrette.
Golden Chicken with Pomegranate and Pistachio – serves 1
1 chicken breast, about 1/2- or 3/4-inch thick
1 egg
1 tablespoon flour
1/4-cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon pomegranate paste or pomegranate molasses
1/4-cup shelled pistachios
1 teaspoon turmeric
1.  Wash and dry the chicken breast, and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper.  Whisk the egg to combine and put in a shallow dish.  Spread the flour in another shallow dish.  Dip the chicken breast in the egg, making sure it is completely covered.  Then place the breast in the flour, again making sure it gets covered completely.
2.  Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Once hot, add the chicken, and fry until cooked through, about 16 minutes.
3.  Meanwhile, prepare the paste:  place the mint, pomegranate paste, pistachios, turmeric, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender, and process until all ingredients are combined.
4.  Before turning the chicken over (about 8 minutes into cooking), spread a layer of paste over the breast.  Turn over and finish cooking through. 
5.  Serve on a plate, and top with remaining paste, and extra pistachios and mint leaves if desired. 

>Roasted Beets with Prunes, Mint, and Walnuts

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Another reason why France is amazing: their farmer’s markets. They are like nothing I’ve seen in the states – pig’s feet, veal tongue, blood sausage, fresh fish, every fresh fruit and vegetable you could deign to find in this season, and of course, lots and lots of cheese and bread.

So, while wandering the market this morning in a state of bliss, I saw some beets that looked really good, and I decided to buy some and test them out. They’re so delicious, I feel like I could sing about them!
Only recently have I discovered how amazing beets are. Their sweet and silky character makes them so unique – plus their purple color is so fun! In my opinion they’re also one of the easiest vegetables to prepare, because the less you do to them, the better they taste.

To make the beets how I made them here, you’ll need 1 large beet (or 2 small-medium beets), 3 prunes, a handful of walnuts, a lemon, and a sprig of mint leaves. Of course, if you want to make this for more people than yourself, you can easily increase the proportions.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and wrap the beet in aluminum foil. Roast the beet until tender, between 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hours. Take it out and let it cool off a bit. In the meantime, chop up your prunes and walnuts and put them in a small bowl. Once the beet has cooled down, chop it up and add it to the bowl. Slice open the lemon, and squeeze one half of the lemon over the bowl. This might be enough lemon juice for you – if not, add more from the other half. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, garnish with a mint leaf or two, and eat whenever you feel like it!

It’s such a light dish that you can probably eat it as snack if you’re hungry, as a side dish, or a light dinner with some bread or crackers.

Merci, et bon week-end!