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This Week’s Harvest, 10/30: At The Market, and Fennel-Potato Gratin

November 1, 2011

Celery and celeriac, potimarron, endives, wild mushrooms, Valençay, radicchio, parsley

Today is a holiday in France, so we’re not getting a vegetable delivery this week.  Instead, Nick and I headed to the market on Sunday to pick up supplies for the week.  First stop was Production d’Ile de France, who only sell fruits and vegetables grown in the region immediately surrounding Paris.

Lettuces from Ile de France

Nick was after a celery root, to replenish our supply of homemade celery salt.  This stand had some great-looking ones, with whole stalks of celery still growing out of the top.  If that doesn’t indicate freshness, I don’t know what does.  Of course, having seen that, we still had to wait in line, the various lettuces in perfect placement for some impulse shopping.  I love endives, and these looked fantastic, so I picked up four of them.  And this baby radicchio was so cute, how could I not buy a couple of them, too?

tiny radicchio

I envision both of these vegetables in mini-wedge salads, drizzled with hazelnut oil and sherry vinegar, and maybe sprinkled with something crunchy like sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

As we approached the front of the line, I had Nick skip ahead to select a bunch of parsley from the array of fresh herbs on display.  Meanwhile, while the vendor was getting my celeriac, I noticed the gorgeous orange potimarrons (kuri or Hokkaido squash) next to it, and asked for one of those as well.  I’m going to roast it with Thai curry paste, in another recipe inspired by Super Natural Every Day.  Arranging my purchases into my shopping bags, I overheard a woman ask the vendor if he had any green beans.  His reply?  “C’est fini.  L’année prochaine.” (“They’re finished.  Next year.”)  Which I just love.  I also love that these vegetables are even more local than the ones I usually get in the panier.  My total, for one celery root with celery, one potimarron, one bunch of parsley, four large endives, and two small radicchio was 9 euros.  For comparison, my weekly delivery of organic vegetables (these are not) from the Loire valley, plus half a dozen eggs is about 15 euros.

The only other thing on my list was wild mushrooms.  But before we found the mushroom stand, I had to stop at La Ferme de la Prairie (referred to as the Ultimate Cheese Guy in this discussion) for goat cheese.  The Valençay was looking particularly good this week, so into my bag went a truncated pyramid.

Finally, I found the mushroom foragers I’d been seeking.  A small handful each of lactaires, shiitakes, chanterelles, and girolles, all foraged in France (as evidenced by the pine needles still clinging to many of them), and my shopping was done.

* * * * *

But wait, what about the gratin?  Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten.  It’s a very simple non-recipe, and it goes like this: thinly slice fennel, reserving the fronds.  Peel and slice potatoes about the same thickness.  Slice up an onion, too.  Toss it all together in a large bowl with chopped fennel fronds, parsley, rosemary (you can use whatever herbs you like, those are just what I had on hand), salt, pepper, and a small tub of crème fraîche (or sour cream) thinned with a little milk.  Mix until everything is evenly coated, then turn out into a buttered baking dish and bake until tender and browned on top, about an hour.

Fennel-potato Gratin

Seasonal opposite: May 4, 2011

Originally published on Seasonal Market Menus.

  1. November 1, 2011 1:15 pm

    Hey really? What’s the holiday for? While not the case in Canberra, a lot of Australia has a public holiday on November 1 for the Melbourne Cup.

    That aside… oh how I love fennel and rosemary! I miss my mum’s baked fennel. Guess I could make it myself, or I could try yours. I reckon this would be worth the lactose grumbles 😛

  2. November 1, 2011 2:04 pm

    I want to meet the Ultimate Cheese Guy!

  3. November 1, 2011 6:35 pm

    Hannah – It’s totally worth it! Though you could try it with stock, which would probably also be wonderful. The holiday is All Saints’ Day… maybe you’ve heard of it? 😉

    Loulou – I’d be delighted to take you to meet him in a couple weeks!

  4. November 3, 2011 1:59 pm

    This is even more amazing than your usual post! Those mushrooms! That cheese. Particularly that cheese. Looks so astonishing. I must get to Paris in the autumn one time, mushrooms, potimarron, cheese. Oh so tempting.

  5. November 3, 2011 9:11 pm

    Now I know what I am having for dinner tonight. Luckily fennel is pretty hardy. Thanks for the recipe (and the inspiration), as usual!

  6. November 3, 2011 9:45 pm

    Louise – Fall is definitely a great time to eat in Paris! 🙂

    researchingparis – And wouldn’t you know it, that’s your baking dish!


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