Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters is a delicious treasure that is sure to be dearly loved and spilled upon many times through years of use in my kitchen. This cookbook’s been around forever (or since 1996), but though it’s been on my list of books to buy for the past who knows how many years, I finally received my very own copy for Christmas. You may already own and love this book yourself, in which case, this review is really unnecessary. But perhaps it’s made its way to the back of the bookshelf and this is the encouragement you need to reintroduce its delightful recipes to your usual repertoire. For those of you who have yet to experience the expertise of Alice Water’s organic, Californian cuisine, please get a move on and buy the book now! (Chez Panisse Vegetables)
One of my favorite strategies at the weekly farmer’s market is to pick a vegetable or fruit that I don’t regularly eat or may have never even seen before. Sometimes I glean tips from the farmer about how best to prepare the item, but often I return home and scour the internet for some mouth-watering options (what did people do before the internet?!). However, I’ve found Chez Panisse Vegetables to be a valuable, encyclopedic resource for all my farmer’s market finds. It helps that Alice Waters lives just across the Bay, in Berkeley, so her ingredients and seasonal recommendations are in line with what I can find locally. The recipes are simple, but the flavors are complex and sophisticated in a farm-chic kind of way.
Note: with a title like “Vegetables,” you may surmise that these recipes don’t really pack the protein. If you know me at all, you’ll know I’m a sucker for a balanced meal, but these recipes make wonderful vegetable portions, salads and sauces. Just add protein!
I’ll share with you a recipe to hold you over until you can get a copy for yourself. Here’s a great little salad – perfect for the winter months.
Avocado, Grapefruit, and Curly Endive Salad with Citrus Dressing
- 6 small heads curly endive
- 1 large shallot
- 2 Tbsp. white wine or champagne vinegar
- 1 lemon
- 1 orange
- 2 grapefruit
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 avocados
Wash and spin-dry the curly endive. For this salad, use only the blanched hearts and save the green leaves for cooking greens.
Peel the shallot and dice it fine. Let it macerate with the vinegar, 1 tablespoon each of lemon juice and orange juice, and a pinch of salt.
Cut away the grapefruit peel, all the pith below, and the membrane around the grapefruit flesh. Then cut the sections free, carefully slicing along the membranes. Peel a little lemon and orange zest and finely chop enough to make about ¼ teaspoon of each.
When you are ready to assemble the salad, whisk the olive oil into the shallot mixture. Add the orange and lemon zest and taste. Add more olive oil or lemon juice if necessary. Cut the avocados in half lengthwise. Remove the pits. Using a sharp knife, cut the avocados into lengthwise slices about the same size as the grapefruit sections, keeping the skin on. Scoop out the slices with a large spoon. Toss the curly endive and grapefruit sections in a bowl with about two thirds of the dressing. Tate the salad and add more salt if necessary. Arrange on a platter or individual dishes. Distribute the avocado slices alongside the endive and grapefruit, season them with a pinch of salt, and drizzle the rest of the dressing over them.