For the next few French Food Fridays, I will be sharing with you a few recipes from a book that belongs on the book shelf of any lover of French food.
This is a cookbook with a difference as the recipes do not contain as much fat as the original recipes but equally still retain the French flavour that made them famous in the first place.
The book is called the Skinny French Kitchen and is written by Harry Eastwood, alovely English girl who grew up in and continues to work and live in Paris.
Harry has recently launched petits pois cakes, a company that makes very yummy cakes with a catch - one of the main ingredients in the cakes is a vegetable.
Moving right along, the first recipe that I have tested this week is Asparagus, Fig and Crispy Ham Salad, you will find an extract of the recipe from The Skinny French Kitchen.
Asparagus, Fig and Crispy Ham Salad
This salad is a bit like me: it sounds French, but it’s not! I made this recipe up because I so badly wanted a salad that combines these flavours and colours. The various Frenchies for whom I’ve cooked it have loved it, so I don’t feel too bad about including it here.
161 calories per serving
•800g fresh asparagus, wooden ends snapped off
•6 slices cured ham (such as Bayonne, Parma or prosciutto)
•6 handfuls rocket leaves, washed and dried
•30g fresh pine nuts, toasted
•6 fresh figs, cut into quarters
•a small handful chives, very finely chopped
For the dressing
•4 tsp balsamic vinegar
•2 tsp olive oil
1.Blanch the asparagus in boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and run under the cold tap until cool. They want to be barely cooked and very green in colour for this salad.
2.Cook the ham in a dry frying pan for 5 minutes each side, or until crispy. You will probably need to do this in two batches. Set aside to cool and crisp up.
3.Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the rocket and asparagus, then give them a good toss.
4.Pile the salad on to a serving platter or six individual plates and scatter the pine nuts, fig segments, chives and shards of crunchy ham over.
Cooking Tip - If you want to make this ahead of time, blanch and refresh the asparagus and keep them in the fridge. Cook the ham ahead of time too and keep it on a plate (not in an airtight container, which would take away the crunch). Rocket is not a good candidate for sitting
out ahead of time, however, since it wilts really fast. The best way to keep rocket super-crunchy (and also to neutralize its pepperiness) is to keep it in a bowl of cold water with ice in it and pat it dry just before serving. When doing this, you will also very likely find that your rocket goes really, really curly! I love it when rocket does that.
Skinny Secret - I think that one of the (many, mysterious) reasons that French women are slim is because there is such a salad culture in France. The salads over here are huge and so full of different ingredients that it’s common to have one for lunch and not eat again until dinner.
Je vous souhaite a tous un "French Food Friday" fabuleux...L x