Recently, I posted a recipe for Cilantro-Flecked Heirloom Tomato Soup from James Beard award-winning author and Francophile, Patricia Wells' latest cookbook, Salad as a Meal: Healthy Main Dish Salads for Every Season. I really loved the simple, yet amazingly flavorful soup and thought I'd try a few more recipes from her latest project.
The title of the second recipe is a bit of a mouthful, but don't let it scare you! The Bar de la Croix Rouge Assiette Saint-Germain is as casual as it is mouth-wateringly delicious! The dish is named after one of Wells' favorite haunts on the Left Bank of Paris, Bar de la Croix Rouge, and it's most famous tartine, Assiette Saint-Germain. Assiette, or "assortment" in French, describes this dish very accurately; it is essentially a playground for the palate, consisting of an open faced roast beef sandwich, sliced cornichons, ripe tomatoes and a soft bed of fresh salad greens. The beauty of this dish is in the details, Wells provides recipes for homemade bread, mayonnaise, roast beef, cornichons and salad dressing which really elevates this essentially common dish to the next level.
Let me start by saying, I did not make everything from scratch. Instead of making the bread, I bought it from my local store (Publix, not Poilane!), likewise with the cornichons and roast beef. I did however, make the mayonnaise and salad dressing myself. I followed the recipes for both and was very impressed with the results! I love to make my own salad dressings and the Creamy Lemon-Mustard dressing was really delicious. Making the homemade mayonnaise was also pretty easy and so much more flavorful than what you find at the grocery store. Wells also recommends using imported French mustard which was well worth it, it had exceptional flavor and complemented the flavors of the other ingredients beautifully. Once the homemade portions of the recipe are completed (whichever ones you choose to make), the assemblage is a snap.
Per Wells' suggestion, I served the assiette with a Beaujolais, the 2009 Georges Duboeuf Belles Grives Morgon. Beaujolais is a wine producing region located just south of Burgundy proper featuring wines made from the Gamay grape. They are made using carbonic maceration, a method that extracts very little tannin from the grapes making the wines very light and easy to drink. Beaujolais are reasonably priced with Cru Beaujolais, the highest classification of the wines of this region, generally retailing for under $20. The top ten villages included in the "Cru" classification are Brouilly, Cote de Brouilly, Regnie, Morgon, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Moulin-a-Vent, Chenas, Julienas and Saint-Amour. The 2009 Morgon was a delicious pairing with the assiette with its juicy tart notes of violets, plum and cassis.
The next time you feel like dining on the Left Bank of Paris without leaving the comfort of your own kitchen, give this delicious recipe a try. Whether you make one or all of the homemade ingredients, I think you will really enjoy it. I'd love to hear what you think!
Bar De La Croix Rouge Assiette Saint-Germain
4 thin slices Multigrain Sourdough Bread, toasted**
1 tablespoon salted butter
1 tablespoon Homemade Mayonnaise**
24 ultra-thin slices rare roast beef**
2 handfuls of soft salad greens
Creamy Lemon-Mustard Dressing**
4 ripe red tomatoes, cored and slices crosswise
16 Cornichons, cut into thin slices, for garnish**
Imported French Mustard, for garnish
Spread the warm toast with the butter and mayonnaise. Top with the slices of beef. Cut each slice of toast crosswise into 6 slices. Arrange on each of 4 large dinner plates.
In a large bowl, combine the greens and the dressing, coating with just enough dressing to coat the greens lightly and evenly. Arrange the salad alongside the tartines. Arrange the tomatoes alongside, and drizzle with a bit of dressing. Garnish with the cornichons and serve with a jar of imported French mustard. Serves 4
**The recipes for these items are also included in the cookbook!