Foie Gras, truffles, mushrooms, chestnuts, sausages–you’ll find these winter staples on restaurant menus throughout Paris at this time of year. And, since my husband and I have been eating out almost every night while here, we have indulged far too often in these rich specialties, We’ve savored foie gras and mushroom soup at Prémices in the 9th, tried pan-seared foie gras at Semilla in the 6th, sampled risotto with truffles at Les Fables de la Fontaine in the 6th, sipped cream of lentil and sausage soup at Anicia in the 6th, and enjoyed guinea hen with chestnuts at Le Casse-Noix in the 15th. After that gastronomic tour de force, we needed to lighten up, so for lunch recently I prepared a slimming yet delicious main course salad.
At the market, I found tiny haricots verts, and then picked up a ripe pear, a Belgian endive, and salad greens. The beans were blanched, the pear thinly sliced, the endive chopped and then all combined with the greens. I dressed this mélange in a refreshing lemon and shallot vinaigrette, then mounded the salad on plates and added garnishes of shaved Pecorino and crushed walnuts.
Nothing could have tasted better or been more satisfying. Our only accompaniments were a crusty baguette and a bowl of clementines for dessert. I repeated the menu a few days later, and we liked it even better the second time around.
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Winter Salad of Haricots Verts, Pear, and Shaved Pecorino
Lemon Shallot Dressing
4 tsp fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
6 oz haricots verts or tender young green beans, ends trimmed
1 large ripe, but not mushy, pear (Bartlett work well), halved, cored, and thinly sliced
l small Belgian endive, halved lengthwise, and halves cut crosswise into 1/2-in-thick slices to yield 1 cup
5 generous cups mixed greens such as mesclun
Freshly ground black pepper
4- to 5-oz piece Pecorino Romano or Parmiano Reggiano
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (see cooking tip)
1. For the dressing, whisk together lemon juice, mustard, scant 1/2 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper in a medium nonreactive bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Stir in the shallots. (Dressing can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature, and whisk well before using.)
2. For the salad, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the haricots verts and 2 teaspoons salt. Boil until tender, 5 to 6 minutes, or about 2 minutes longer for tender young green beans. Drain beans in a colander, and place under cold running water until cool. Pat dry. (Beans can be prepared 6 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.)
3. Add the haricots verts and the sliced pear to the bowl with the dressing. Toss to coat well and marinate 5 minutes. Add the Belgian endive and mixed greens and toss again. Season the salad with salt and pepper to taste and with an extra squeeze of lemon if you like.
4. Mound the salad on four salad plates. Sprinkle with walnuts, then shave a generous amount of cheese over the salad. (You might not need to use all of the cheese; save extra for another use.) Serves 4
Cooking tip: To toast walnuts, spread on a rimmed baking sheet and place in a preheated 350° F oven until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Watch carefully so nuts do not burn. Remove and cool.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2016