Salade Rouge et Verte
For a recent upscale potluck dinner with a small group of wine "geeks" and gourmets, guests were challenged to come up with Burgundian-style dishes to match several "flights" of fine red and white wines of Burgundy.
Naturally, I went straight to the book. The cookbook, that is ... and when it comes to the fare of this great gastronomic region of eastern France, I have - and need - just one reference: My well-thumbed, 22-year-old copy of Mireille Johnston's The Cuisine of the Rose: Classical French Cooking from Burgundy and Lyonnais, a resource I use often enough that most of you have probably seen me mention it before.
This time I picked two courses - a simple preparation of oven-roasted country-style pork spareribs with lemon salt and herbs, and a hearty but healthy salad in bold, contrasting red and green colors that's as pretty to look at as it is good to eat.
It's really two crisp, flavorful salads in one: a red ("Rouge") salad colored with fresh roasted beets and slivers of green pepper in a light, wine-friendly vinaigrette, served on a plate surrounded by a crunchy ring of green ("Verte") salad featuring crisp celery and red onions dressed with Dijon and lemon, with aromatic spring herbs sprinkled over all.
As I usually do with published recipes, I tweaked it here and altered it there, aiming at health and ease of preparation, but it's still close enough to the original that Johnston deserves the credit.INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)
3 medium beets
1. Begin by roasting the beets, starting at least three hours in advance of serving time (you'll need an hour or more for roasting followed by a little time to cool). Preheat your oven to 400F (200C), and while it's heating, rinse the beets, trim off the tops and roots, wrap tightly in aluminum foil and put them on an oven pan or cookie sheet in case of spills. Roast for at least an hour to 90 minutes or until a fork goes into the beets easily. Remove the foil, allow the beets to cool until they can be handled, then slip off their skins (which should come off easily) and cut the beets into 1/4-inch dice. (OPTION: You may boil the beets by simmering in salted water until they're tender if you prefer, but I find that roasting yields a much more intensely concentrated flavor so delicious that I could eat them out of hand without any need for salt or butter ... but then I wouldn't have had any left for the salad, which would have been a shame.)
2. While the beets are roasting, you can get ahead on all the other prep work - there's a fair amount of chopping and dicing involved. Discard the stems, seeds and inner ribs of the green peppers and cut the rest into thin, longish slivers. Mince the garlic very fine. Cut all the celery and the red onion into small dice, and juice the lemon. Mince the chives and mint together.
3. Make the salad dressings separately: In one small bowl, mix 3 ounces of the olive oil, the cider vinegar and the finely minced garlic, whipping with a fork until the oil and vinegar are well blended. In another small bowl, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil with the lemon juice and mustard, whisking until they're emulsified.
4. Once the beets are cool, peeled and diced, assemble the two salads. In one bowl, gently mix the beets and green pepper strips. Toss with the oil-and-vinegar dressing. In the other bowl, mix the chopped celery and red onion and mix with the Dijon dressing. Taste and season each salad with salt and pepper as necessary.
5. The salads can be served at once, but I find they're even better if you leave them in the refrigerator for an hour or two so the flavors will blend. When it's time to serve, mound the beet salad in the center of a large serving plate or shallow bowl, and spoon the celery salad around it. Garnish with the minced chives and mint and serve.
WINE MATCH: I was pleasantly surprised by how well the salad went with both white and red Burgundies. The dark, sweet flavor of the vinaigrette-dressed beets made a particularly happy marriage with three earthy red Burgundies (the 2000 Pommard "Noizons," Volnay "Carelles" and Beaune 1er Cru "Reversées" from Paul Pernot et ses Fils), while the green portion was especially well matched by a 2000 Meursault "En l'Ormeau" from Yves Boyer-Martenot.
THE CUISINE OF THE ROSE
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Speaking of Burgundy: Wanna go?
The day is growing late, but we can still accommodate one more couple, or possibly two, on my May 24-30 tour of Burgundy and Champagne, which is shaping up to be an exceptional introduction to the vinous and gastronomic world of Burgundy (plus a bonus side trip to Champagne). We'll enjoy VIP-style visits at several top producers plus four-star lodging and meals at some of Burgundy's top restaurants including the classic Lameloise. I look forward to meeting some of you and sharing time on the wine road. Details at French Wine Explorers,
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Copyright 2004 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.
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