I've been appearing on a radio show on BBC Oxford recently, and was asked to highlight seasonal products and how to build a menu around them. By way of shameful confession, I am not always the best at this—need I bring up the vitriol that transpired after my watermelon-in-February recipe last winter? Completely justified!
In exploring the concept, I have realized that seasonal recipes are simpler, cheaper, easier to make (you don't need to gild the lily, so to speak), and generally weather appropriate. Lettuce and herbs, used here for example, are at their prime in July when all you can bear is a light salad.
This fines herbes salad combines seasonal serendipity with French culinary history. Fines herbes can just mean the delicate herbs of the season, but more traditionally fines herbes are a foursome of flat parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil. These herbs are torn fresh onto a salad of Bibb lettuce, topped with garlic-toasted leftover baguette croutons, and finished with a verjus vinaigrette. Light, and lively.
- 1/4 baguette, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons garlic oil
- 1/2 head Bibb lettuce
- 4 stems chervil
- 2 stems tarragon
- 2 stems flat leaf parsley
- 8 chives
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons Verjus
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toss the baguette cubes with the garlic oil and season with salt. Bake on a baking sheet until crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Tear the lettuce into big pieces, and tear the herbs away from the stems, and then into large pieces.
Make the dressing by whisking together the mustard and Verjus, with salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil, and toss the salad together. Top with the garlic croutons.