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Summer Food Favourites in Gascony by Marie-Aude Koné – Deputy Editor

Updated: May 10, 2023


Gascony is a region to discover all year long: whether you are looking to enjoy the mountain beauty of the Pyrenees during winter skiing holidays; or to appreciate its glorious countryside during spring, when the snow melts, and the flowers bloom again; or you are planning a summer holiday with long warm days beside the pool; or waiting for the cooler days of autumn which often provide the best weather of all - we are looking forward to welcoming you in one of our holiday houses at any time of year.

When renting one of our holiday houses this summer, make sure you visit as many of the local village markets as possible to discover the area through its food, with fresh products coming directly from the farmers of the area. Food is one of the best ways to explore the region through its seasons, so we would like to continue guiding you in your culinary journey in summer.

Thanks to our Working Partner, Laura Washburn (Atelier Cuisine) you have now been introduced to Gascon cuisine through my April Blog.

Once you have chosen what you want to buy in a market, don’t forget to try out one of the recipes below and let us know what you think!

Strawberry – “La Gariguette”

The various products produced by farmers can take you from one season to another, just like strawberries which can be found fresh in the markets from spring through to the first frosts of autumn.

If you decide to explore one of the many markets in Gascony this summer - which I highly recommend - you will definitely be seeing a lot of strawberries. The best-known French strawberry is the famous ‘Gariguette’ which is loved by French chefs. Its unusual shape and unrivalled sweetness and flavour make it a major ingredient of summer kitchens in Gascony.




Here are a few tips to select your Gariguette strawberries:

● The colour should be bright red. The colour should be the same on the entire fruit.

● The texture of the flesh should be firm and unblemished.

● The tastiest Gariguettes are often the most aromatic so don’t be scared as a strong smell is a good sign!

Whether you are a fan of strawberry tarts, sorbet, jam, or if you simply love to eat them with nothing but a bit of whipped cream, you will definitely find what you are looking for.




Asparagus – Three Types

One of the other iconic spring to summer products to enjoy when on holiday in Gascony is asparagus. Asparagus can be found in most markets from spring to summer, often sold on its own from a small stand by the producer. Asparagus has benefits that will win you over if you are not already a fan: in addition to being delicious, they also do not contain a lot of calories and are full of vitamins and minerals.

There are 3 varieties of asparagus:

● The green ones which are usually long, thin and grown overground. They get their colour from the sunlight.




● The white ones - their colour comes from the fact that the plant is not exposed to the sun as they are grown underground and covered by an opaque tarpaulin.

They have a fine and delicate taste.




● The purple ones which have a white stem and a purple tip. This colour is due to the fact they are grown underground and only their tip is exposed to the sunlight. Their taste is quite similar to the white asparagus


When you choose them, make sure the tip is tightly closed, and the stem straight, smooth and firm.



Cherry tomatoes – ‘Coeur de Pigeon’ variety

Cherry tomatoes are one of the staples of summer food. Whether eaten raw during a picnic in lovely Gascony, or cooked, they are a ‘must-eat’ when sunny days arrive.

The Coeur de Pigeon variety (or ‘pigeon’s heart’) is a very popular French cherry tomato known for the peculiar slightly elongated shape similar to an olive, only a bit bigger.

Their shape is not the only thing that makes them special, they are also famous for their sweetness and crunchy texture. These little jewels also contain vitamin C and will enhance your salads this summer.





Now that you know more about what to look for in your Gascony market tour, you are probably wondering how to cook these incredible products.Have no fear, Simply Gascony is here to help you: the following amazing easy and quick recipes will help you enjoy these products after your Gascon market tour.



Recipe 1 - Wild “Gariguettes” Strawberry Millefeuille by Chef Claudia Kelly.


Ingredients

Puff Pastry:

1 packet quality puff pastry (Hertha)

Icing sugar to dust

Cream:

1 vanilla pod

100gm whipping cream

2 tbsps amaretto

100gm mascarpone cheese

Strawberry Sauce:

½ cup Gariguettes strawberries

2 tbsps caster sugar

2 tbsps amaretto

1 tsp lemon juice

Servings: 4

Method

Puff Pastry:

Preheat oven to 190°C.

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Roll the pastry out flat onto a cool surface and cut 6 rectangles of approximately 10cm x 6 cm each.

Place a small amount of icing sugar in a fine mesh sieve and dust the top of the pastries lightly.

Place the pastries on the prepared baking tray and bake for 10-12 mins or until puffed and golden brown. This can be prepared several hours in advance and store in an air-tight container until needed.

Cream:

Split the vanilla pod down the centre and scrape the seeds from the pod into a bowl with the whipping cream.

Whisk the whipping cream until thick and then add icing sugar and whisk till it’s evenly mixed.

Roll the pastry out flat onto a cool surface and cut 6 rectangles of approximately 10cm x 6 cm each.

Place the mascarpone in another bowl and gently fold 1/3 of the cream into the mascarpone using a spatula.

Once combined, fold the remaining cream into the mixture. This can be made several hours in advance and kept in the fridge until needed.

Strawberry Sauce:

Combine Gariguette strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl and leave to macerate for about 20 mins..

Blend mixture until smooth.

Taste and add more sugar or lemon for desired sweetness.

Sieve the mixture into a bowl and keep in fridge until needed.

To Serve

To assemble the millefeuille, cut the puff pastry rectangles in half horizontally to achieve 6 pastry bases and 6 pastry tops.

Spoon a very small amount of mascarpone cream onto the centre of 4 serving plates and place a puff pastry base on top. (This will prevent the pastry from moving around the plate.)

Spoon or pipe a layer of mascarpone cream onto the pastry base.

Drizzle a little strawberry sauce over the cream and then arrange a layer of wild strawberries over the cream.

Place a second layer of puff pastry on top (use 2 pastry bases and 2 pastry tops in the middle layer so you are left with 4 pastry tops to finish).

Repeat with the layering of mascarpone, strawberry sauce and Gariguette strawberries.

Lightly dust the remaining 4 pastry tops with icing sugar and place them on top of the Gariguette strawberries to finish the millefeuille.

Spoon some strawberry sauce on the plates to decorate and serve immediately.

Recipe 2 - Asparagus with Dijon Mustard by Lee Jackson


Ingredients

1 bunch asparagus spears (woody ends removed)

2 tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves (peeled and thinly sliced)

½ tsp pepper flakes (mild - try Aleppo pepper flakes) (optional)

For the Dijon dressing

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp Dijon mustard (heaped)

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Method

Heat about 2 cups lightly salted water in a deep frying pan until boiling

Add the asparagus and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain the water.

Wipe the pan and return to the heat (medium). Add the olive oil and heat until just hot.

Add the garlic and fry briefly before adding the asparagus back to the pan. Let the asparagus fry for 3-4 minutes, tossing to turn frequently.

Remove from the heat and using tongs, arrange the asparagus on a platter.

To make the dressing

Whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, and vinegar until creamy and smooth.

Drizzle this over the asparagus then, if using, sprinkle with the pepper flakes. Season with a little salt and black pepper and serve.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

To make this a delicious appetiser, poach or fry a couple of eggs and serve alongside with some toasted crunchy bread.







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