I travelled to Paris in 2008 for a friend’s milestone birthday. Several of us rented an apartment in the Marais and spent the days walking through the city, visiting museums and art galleries, dining in fancy restaurants, eating our weight in cheese, chatting with locals, listening to live music, and getting to know as much about French culture as we could. One of my favourite things about being in Paris was the mornings I spent with my friend, Maureen. We’d wake up early, go for a short run through the bustling city centre, watching the parisians make their way to work. After we’d showered, we’d head to the same quaint local bakery each day to enjoy a leisurely breakfast of café au lait and freshly made breads. My favourite was an out of this world baguette that was generously studded with hazelnuts, walnuts, and dried cherries.
To be honest, I didn’t love the dinner food experiences quite as much. We went to a lot of beautiful restaurants, but the food—relying heavily on butter, cheese, and meat—always felt just a little too rich for me. (All good things, in my opinion! But, for me, all best in small quantities.) So I left Paris fantasizing about the coffee, pastries, and bread (I still do!), but never really understanding what all the fuss what about when it came to other types of French food.
When I saw that Clotilde Dusoulier (of Chocolate and Zucchini) was releasing a French cookbook focusing on vegetarian fare, I knew that with a focus on the veg, I had to revisit French cooking. Like me, Clotilde is not a vegetarian, but chooses to eat a plant heavy diet focusing on seasonal foods. Because she chooses foods that are in season, (also like me for the most part), the true flavours of the foods are so profound she doesn’t have to rely on cheese and cream as much to elevate them. There are, of course, recipes that call for these items, but in smaller amounts. Perfect for me!
The book, titled The French Market Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes From My Parisian Kitchen, is organized seasonally, and as such, offers a variety of recipes to carry you through the changes of the year. There is also an “Essentials” section where Clotilde takes you through making different types of tart and doughs, vinaigrettes and other sauces, and a delicious looking lemon pastry cream, which can be made dairy-free. In fact, she makes recommendations for making several of her recipes dairy-free. At the beginning of each seasonal section, there is also a helpful list of “produce to play with” which highlights the fruit, vegetables, and herbs of the season. For example, in the Summer section (I’m not giving up on Summer yet!), zucchini, melon, green beans, figs, and garlic are among some of the many items listed.
Since we’ve been getting some beautifully sweet yellow beans in our CSA share, I decided to make the Green Bean, Black Rice, and Almond Salad with those. And I’m so glad I did. What a fantastic dish this is, not to mention a perfect way to use up leftover rice. The combination of a nutty, chewy rice, with the sweet beans, herbs, and creamy almond dressing is a textural win. This dish made the perfect dinner and leftovers packed up beautifully for lunch the next day, even prompting several colleagues to ask about what I was eating. (No sad desk lunch here!) All that to say, you should definitely make this dish while the beans are in still popping up. You’ll want to look for haricots vert—the thin, sweeter green beans or young yellow beans before they become stiff and waxy. Here is a tip: (though I have to admit that this is certainly not a local, farmers market source) I have caved on many occasions to buy haricots vert from Costco. Yes, that’s right! They are available year-round and they’re fantastic. (I’m definitely not perfect when it comes to eating locally and seasonally).
So now onto the best news of the day:
I have a copy of The French Market Cookbook to give away to a lucky reader. Yes, I said giveaway! The giveaway is now over. Congratulations to Rebecca! If you’d like a copy of The French Market Cookbook, you can get one here. check out the Rafflecopter widget below and enter as many times as you’d like. This contest is only for Canadian residents. Sorry international friends.
Here’s how to enter a giveaway using Rafflecopter:
In the meantime, get yourself some lovely beans and make this for your next lunch. It’ll be the best thing you do this week. Get the recipe here:
- 2 lbs, haricots verts (or thin green or yellow beans), trimmed
- 3 tbsp all-natural, unsweetened almond butter
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 3 cups cooked black, red, or brown rice, cooled (about 1 cup uncooked)
- ½ cup sliced, almonds
- 1 cup chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Set up steamer. Stean the beansm tightly covered until just cooked through but not limp, 7-8 minutes. Set aside to cool. The beans can be cooked the day before.
- In a large salad bowl, whisk together the almond butter, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt.
- Add the cooked beans and turn them gently in the dressing to coat. Stir in the rice. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- The salad may be made a few hours in advance up to this point. Cover and refrigerate.
- Clotilde suggests that just before serving, add the chopped almonds and parsley, sprinkle with black pepper and toss to combine. I found the salad kept well in the fridge for a couple of days when all ingredients were combined.