Lemon spaghetti with parma ham

Lemon spaghetti with parma ham

In these corona virus times, we are told to be confined in our homes and even simple food shopping has become a major procedure to be postponed as much as possible. From a few simple ingredients it is possible to make a “creamy”, tasty, and healthy pasta dish.

Instead of real cream I used thick French fromage blanc  0% fat and added a generous amount of good local olive oil. If you don’t have fromage blanc in your shop, you could use thick Greek yoghurt or crème fraîche. If it is low-fat or zero fat, simply use more olive oil and it works well in this recipe.

I topped the spaghetti with slices of parma ham, but smoked salmon, defrosted shrimp, or tinned sardines would go just as well. Feel free to experiment!

2 servings

Juice of ½ lemon
100g fromage blanc 0% fat or Greek yoghurt or crème fraîche
2 – 3 tbsp. good olive oil
A handful of grated parmesan
1 clove garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
4-6 slices of parma ham
1 tsp. dried parsley
Spaghetti, pref. organic whole wheat, for 2 servings

Brush the lemon with liquid soap and rinse to remove any possibly lingering corona viruses. Then press ½ lemon into juice.

Bring the pasta cooking water to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook as long as indicated on the package.

While the pasta is cooking, pace the fromage blanc / yoghurt in a large bowl. Add the grated parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, dried parsley, and black pepper. Stir well.

When the spaghetti is cooked, drain it and add to the bowl. Toss well, the sauce thickens and coats every spaghetti strand.

Divide the spaghetti into two bowls and top with parma ham.


Easy loop trail above Vence

Circuit du Malvan near signpost 113

This loop trail above Vence called Circuit du Malvan represents another great winter walk on Côte d’Azur. The French description can be found on the randoxygène web site.

To reach the trailhead behind Chateau Notre-Dame-des-Fleurs, fork right (when driving from Vence) from the RM2210 road about 3 km west of Vence, just after the roundabout.

Behind the Chateau, signpost #119 showed the start with the text Circuit du Malvan among other locations. We headed north, and ascended passing signposts 118,117 and 116. We soon came to the trail that we had hiked along on several occasions, reaching Chapel St-Raphaël. A bit higher up in the incline, ruins of the Malvans Fortress were visible. We continued straight north, crossed the tiny Malvan Stream, then forked sharply southeast (right) at signpost #114. At signpost #113, we again forked right, now heading towards Vence.
Circuit du Malvan was not anymore written on these signposts, only Vence and the M2 road. But navigation was easy enough. We soon reached residential areas and paved streets, and followed the yellow marks. The trail took some shortcuts between residences as at signpost #111, which took us to Chemin de l’Ormée (signpost #110, a bit hidden) and forked right (west). We walked along it about 900 m before turning left to Chemin des Quatre Vents. We descended rapidly along it to M2210 which we followed till we reached the roundabout. From this point, it was just a short walk and ascent back to our starting point.

The M2210/Route de Grasse running above the main road (M2210A) had light local traffic, and walking along it did not pose any problems.

Distance: 8,2 km

Duration: 2h 30 (walking time)

Elevation gain : 308 m
Circuit du Malvan GPS track

Map: 3643ET Cannes Grasse Côte d’Azur


Tomato spaghetti with burrata

Tomato spaghetti with burrata

There is an old saying in Naples that you shouldn’t serve parmesan with tomato pasta. But they say nothing about burrata, so…

Summertime I am fond of burrata which goes very well with tasty tomatoes, fresh basil, and olive oil. The following easy pasta recipe makes a colourful summer lunch.

2 servings 

About 3 tbsp. olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. Provençal herbs
Freshly ground black pepper
200 ml good, preferably organic, tomato sauce
About 8 cherry tomatoes or 2 tomatoes coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. black olives, pitted and sliced
1 burrata
Fresh basil leaves
Spaghetti for 2 servings

Warm 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Sauté the shallot and garlic about 10 minutes until soft. Add the Provençal herbs, black pepper, tomato sauce, and black olives to the pan and mix.

Meanwhile cook the spaghetti, drain and add to the pan. Mix with the tomato sauce until the pasta is evenly coated.

Divide the tomato spaghetti into the bowls, and top the pasta with ½ burrata. Place some cherry tomatoes or chopped tomato on the side, drizzle over a little olive oil and decorate with fresh basil leaves.


Le Thoronet Abbey

Le Thoronet Abbey

Le Thoronet Cistercian Monastery was built between 1160 and 1230 deep in the forest, about 10 km southwest of Lorgues. Its pure lines and simple shapes have inspired contemporary architects such as Le Corbusier.

In the Monastery’s heyday, around twenty monks and twenty lay brothers lived here. The Monastery eventually declined, and was abandoned in 1791. Restoration work began in 1841 and continues today. It is one of the national monuments of France.

We visited the Monastery on a clear November day. The tour of the Abbey takes about an hour. It is a rather compact entity. We combined the visit with a lunch in Le Thoronet Village nearby. We had a seasonal dish, aïoli. The area around Lorgues is wine-growing land, Côtes de Provence AOP. We took the opportunity to visit La Maison des Vins near Les Arcs on the way home. They have an excellent selection (about 800) of mainly local wines.