CSA Week 9 and its Uses
"Gargouillou" apparently was originally a humble French peasant dish of potatoes and ham. But it was made famous by Chef Michel Bras, who reinvented it as a composition of dozens (really - often 50 to 60 separate components) of various fresh seasonal vegetables, herbs, and flowers, painstakingly assembled onto a riotously colorful plate. It has been much talked about and much imitated; chefs the world over have used Bras' gargouillou as the inspiration or springboard for countless dishes, like David Kinch's "Into the Vegetable Garden." You can read about it in this New York Times piece, see a slideshow in this Wall Street Journal, catch it in video form here, or, just do a Google image search for "gargouillou." The pictures are so beautiful you can't help but smile.
So when I picked up my most recent share from Little River Market Garden and saw flowering hon tsai tai, perky Caraflex cabbage, "purple haze" carrots, and wispy fresh dill, among other goodies, a very simple take on gargouillous is what came to mind. The cabbage, hon tsai tai leaves and stems, and carrots were quickly blanched in salted boiling water. Last week's dinosaur kale was tossed with olive oil and oven-roasted till crispy and a bit charred. Last week's cutting celery, this week's dill, and the gorgeous yellow flower buds from the hon tsai tai went in raw. A dollop of last week's marcona almond brown butter vinaigrette, and an herbaceous salsa verde, both found their way onto the plate. I also took the blanching liquid from the vegetables, which had picked up some of their flavors and a nice soft green hue, gave it a bit of viscosity with some agar agar, and drizzled it around the plate.
It was nowhere near as colorful or elaborate as any other "gargouillou" I've seen. But it still made me smile.
The oven-roasted kale is a great little trick: just remove any really fibrous ribs, make sure the leaves are completely dry after washing, toss with a bit of olive oil, spread out on a baking sheet and pop in the oven at high temp (I did 500°F) for about 15 minutes, then salt when you pull it out. The kale comes out nicely crispy with a bit of char, the texture a little reminiscent of toasted nori sheets.
The ones that got charred a bit too much I repurposed into a dip, blended with some home-made mayo, sour cream, scallions, and smoked salt (a take-off of something in Mission Street Food, a really entertaining and inspiring book for more than just the recipes), that's good on just about anything - poached chicken breast, crudités, toasted naan bread, fingers.