The benefit of an abroad program with only 9 students, is that we all become sort of an extended family here in France. This means that birthdays are celebrated together in our professor’s beautiful apartment. I decided to take command of the kitchen for Darcy’s birthday, our group’s second in France. Darcy is a vegetarian, but I wanted to create a meatless menu that would satisfy even the most carnivorous amongst us. Along with the resulting salad and pasta, Laura made some totally delicious guacamole for a starter and our professor purchased two tarts for dessert. The whole meal cost under 50 euros, but an attention to little details and good ingredients made it feel much more expensive. Below are the recipes modified for 4 people, but they are great for entertaining a crowd.
Salad with Pears, Fennel, and Emmental Tartines
1 head of soft, mild lettuce (I used a French type de salade that I haven’t ever seen in the states, but think butter/bibb lettuce)
2 small bulbs or 1 large bulb of fennel (Roast with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper at 350 F until tender and sweet… or leave it raw)
3 pears sliced thin
Vinaigrette (I used a mixture of Red Wine Vinegar, Olive Oil, Dijon Mustard, Honey, and Herbes de Provence)
2 cups of shredded Emmental cheese
8 or 12 rounds of baguette (I served two tartines with each salad, but 3 might be nice if you know your guests are hungry)
Sprinkle cheese on each round and crack of pepper on top. Toast/melt in 350 over for around 2 minutes, until bubbly and browned.
Assemble and dress salad. Serve with Tartines and leave some extra vinaigrette for those who like their salad swimming.
Farfalle with Eggplant “meat” Sauce, Fresh Goat Cheese, and Basil
2 Large eggplants cut in large dice
4 roma tomatoes diced
1 shallot finely chopped
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoons Herbes de Provence
1 8 oz. can of plain Tomato Sauce
4 servings of Farfalle Pasta
1 round of Fresh goat cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons of fresh basil, ripped
Liberally Coat the bottom of a heavy pot with olive oil. Add eggplants, tomatoes, shallot, garlic, and Herbes de Provence. Roast in 375 degree oven until veggies meld together and eggplant is tender (about 10-15 minutes). Remove from oven and add can of tomato sauce, salting and peppering to taste. Cover pot and heat on stovetop to keep warm.
Cook pasta, drain and toss in olive oil. Spoon over “meat” sauce. Sprinkle on some goat cheese crumbles and some basil. Serve with slices of baguette to soak up the sauce.