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Categories: Sides, Vegetables

Stephane Carrade's vegetable plate

Stephane Carrade's vegetable plate
Anne Lanta, France

"MOLECULAR gastronomy doesn't exist." So says Stephane Carrade, the 38-year-old chef-owner of Chez Ruffet, a restaurant just outside Pau, a beautiful city at the foot of the Pyrenees in southwest France. "Cooking has to be spontaneous," he says. Carrade received ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes | Serves 4
Note: From chef Stephane Carrade at Chez Ruffet in Juracon, France. Any leftover vinaigrette and lemon-infused olive oil can be used for another purpose.
  • 3 medium beets
  • 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 3/4 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons best-quality olive oil, divided
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 2 Anaheim or large multi-colored bell peppers
  • Olive oil (regular quality)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 small, slender zucchini
  • 4 large chanterelles or fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon chopped mint
  • 2 or 3 large tomatoes -- ripe but not too juicy -- good beefsteaks or heirlooms
  • Lemon-infused olive oil (or infuse 1/4 cup good-quality olive oil with the zest of one lemon overnight, then strain out the zest)
  • Fleur de sel
  • Zest of one orange
  • 4 sprigs of small basil leaves
  • 8 mint leaves
  • 4 nasturtiums

Step 1Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and roast them on a baking sheet for 45 minutes, until tender. Unwrap and let cool.

Step 2Make a vinaigrette by whisking together 1 tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar, the lemon juice, one-half teaspoon sea salt, a few grinds of white pepper, the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean and one-quarter cup of best-quality olive oil. Adjust seasoning.

Step 3Place a Roma tomato on the end of a carving fork and hold it over a flame until it blisters all over, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Repeat with the other Roma tomato. (Note: If you don't have a gas stove, you can blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 10 seconds.) Peel the tomatoes. Cut the peppers in half and open them so they lie flat. Place them skin-side down on a hot griddle or grill pan; cook for 5 to 6 minutes. When the skin is burnt and blistered, remove the peppers and let them cool.

Step 4Cut the Romas in half lengthwise and place them cut-side down on a lightly oiled griddle or grill for about a minute. Trim to a nice shape. Peel the peppers and cut them into 4 big flat triangles. Set aside.

Step 5Heat a small skillet over medium heat with 1 teaspoon of regular quality olive oil until the oil is hot but not smoking. Place the Romas flat-side down in the skillet. Season with salt and a pinch of white pepper. After 3 minutes, add the tomato sauce and deglaze the pan by stirring the sauce and loosening the tomatoes, if necessary. Add the oregano. Reduce the heat to very low and simmer 1 minute. Set aside.

Step 6Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, leaving the stem on. In a saute pan, heat 1 teaspoon regular olive oil over medium heat, and place the zucchini halves in cut-side down. Cook the zucchini until browned, about 8 minutes.

Step 7Turn the zucchini over. Peel the stems of the mushrooms, and trim the stems into points. Cut the chanterelles or shiitake mushrooms in half, and place them cut-side down in the pan with the zucchini. Sprinkle the chopped mint on top of the zucchini, and season with salt and pepper. After a minute, turn the mushrooms over. Cook 1 minute and remove the pan from the heat.

Step 8Use a cutter (a 1 1/2 -inch-diameter cylinder) to stamp columns out of the heirloom tomatoes. Cut the ends at an angle. If you do not have a cutter, cut the tomato in 1 1/2 by 1 1/2 -inch cubes. Unwrap the beets, peel them, then slice them three-eighths-inch thick. If you have a cutter, cut out 8 disks from the beets. Drizzle 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon-infused olive oil onto the raw tomato columns and 1 1/2 teaspoons vinaigrette on the beet disks. Add half a teaspoon of water to the Romas to moisten.

Step 9Place four dinner plates in a 350-degree oven until just warm. Drizzle the pepper triangles with 1 teaspoon best-quality olive oil, sprinkle with fleur de sel, and use a microplane grater to grate a little orange zest on each pepper. Remove the plates from the oven and place a pepper triangle on each. Pour 2 tablespoons vinaigrette into a shallow dish. Drag and roll each tomato column in the vinaigrette, then place it next to a pepper triangle on the plates. Drag the bottoms of the zucchinis through the vinaigrette, then place them on the plates. Place a Roma half on each, cut-side up. Place two mushroom halves on each plate. Place two beet rounds on each plate. Drizzle 1 teaspoon or less of vinaigrette on each plate. Garnish the Roma tomato with a couple of small basil leaves, and the zucchini with a little mint. Place a nasturtium on top.

Each serving:
175 calories; 4 grams protein; 17 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 11 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 185 mg. sodium.
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