Fennel and Zucchini Salad
I never skip lunch. In fact, I never skip breakfast or dinner either. Whenever P. thinks that I am becoming somewhat grumpy — in his own words — he also believes that a good way for me to become a nicer person again is to feed me. For the longest time, I fought it, arguing that one, I was actually not grumpy, and two, food had nothing to do with it. But I have learned, reluctantly nevertheless, that once I am fed, the chance that I relax will double indeed. Maybe even triple, sometimes, if we are lucky.
You know it. In France, lunch is a big thing. At least during the old days, the way I remember them. At home, my mum would cook a warm lunch every day, seven days out of the week, served at noon, à midi, with the entire family sitting at the kitchen table. Years later, it has not changed. Every time I return to visit, I know that if I hear the bells of the village church chime noon, everything will stop. C’est l’heure du déjeuner ! Lunch Time!
And so, I will have to make a confession.
Does it drive me insane?
Yes, it does.
“Why does it have to be at noon? ” I have asked them, many times. [...] Bing bing bing bing [...] Twelve distinct rings. “Ah, on mange à midi,” (we eat at noon) they respond, invariably.
I will have to confess, again.
I find it charming and cute, because this is my parents’ way. At 11:45, my dad would claim that he is not hungry. At 12:00, he is all of sudden ravenously hungry. He, my dad, is like this.
Would I want to change it?
Because whenever I am back there, the pleasure to sit at my mum’s kitchen table with a homemade warm lunch is the same! At this time of the day, we stop and relax.
My lunches have changed, obviously. I live a different life, in a different place. In a different culture. But there is something that I am convinced will never change. Forget about lunch? Impossible! I am too well-trained to run that risk. I might no longer hear the bells of the village church but deep inside, I know. Or, I have to face it. C’est vrai. True. When I become grumpy, there is a high chance that the reason is simple. I am hungry.
“Tu manges une tartine au déjeuner ?” (you are eating a tartine for lunch?) my dad said with a hint of surprise in his voice when he called at noon.
“Oui. J’avais faim” (I was hungry).
For lack of time to prepare anything else, a tartine with a salad is always going to be a better choice than nothing.
And on top, how nice!
For the Zucchini and Fennel Salad
- 1 zucchini
- 1 fennel bulb
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Tarragon, freshly chopped
- Salt and pepper
For the Honey Prosciutto Tartines
- 4 sourdough country bread slices
- 9 oz ricotta cheese
- 4 slices prosciutto
- 1 avocado
- 1 pear
- Pink radish, a few
- Chives, chopped
- 1 tsp hazelnut oil
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- Wildflower pure honey (1 tsp about for each tartine)
- Freshly cracked pepper
- Fleur de sel (optional)
- Place the bread slices under the broil for a few min, until toasted. Remove.
- In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, hazelnut oil, ground coriander and pepper.
- Add the chopped chives (about 1 to 2 Tbsp).
- Spread this mixture on each slice.
- Top with 1 slice of prosciutto, and continue with slices of avocado and pear on some, radish slices on others.
- Sprinkle with fleur de sel if you want (but the prosciutto is salty already). Top with the honey and chopped chives. Eat with the Zucchini and Fennel Salad.
Pour la salade de courgette/fenouil
- 1 courgette
- 1 bulbe de fenouil
- 2 càs de jus de citron
- 2 càs d’huile d’olive
- Estragon, haché
- Sel et poivre
Pour les tartines au prosciutto/miel
- 4 tranches de pain de campagne ou au levain
- 250 g de ricotta
- 4 tranches prosciutto
- 1 avocat
- 1 poire
- Quelques radis roses
- Ciboulette, hachée
- 1 càc d’huile de noisette
- 1 càc de coriandre en poudre
- Miel aux fleurs liquide (1 càc par tartine environ)
- Fleur de sel (facultatif)
- Placez les tranches de pain sous le gril pendant quelques min, jusqu’à ce qu’elles soient bien grillées. Mettez de côté.
- Dans un bol, mélangez la ricotta, la coriandre, l’huile de noisette et assaisonnez de poivre.
- Ajoutez la ciboulette hachée, environ 1 à 2 cas.
- Étalez cette crème sur chaque tranche de pain.
- Ajoutez une tranche de prosciutto, et continuez avec des tranches d’avocat et poire intercalées sur certaines, des radis sur les autres.
- Saupoudrez de fleur de sel si vous le souhaitez (mais le prosciutto est déjà salé). Ajoutez le miel et de la ciboulette. Dégustez avec la salade de courgette/fenouil.