Spring risotto

Spring risotto

 

This spring risotto recipe is my twist of a lunch we had one beautiful day in May on the terrace of a restaurant in Nice. The green asparagus and small purple artichokes, artichauts violets, are much appreciated local spring vegetables in the South of France. 


2 servings

For the risotto:

120 ml carnaroli or arborio rice

Olive oil

150 ml white wine

1- 2 shallots, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

About 700 ml chicken stock (you may not need it all)

About 2 handfuls of grated parmesan

For the vegetables:

4 small purple artichokes, artichauts violets

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

4 green asparagus

Juice of ½ lemon

8 black olives, pitted

About a handful of fresh basil leaves

Olive oil a pinch of salt


First prepare the vegetables and keep them refrigerated until needed.


Prepare a very green herb sauce by crushing the chopped basil leaves and a pinch of salt in a mortar with a pestle. Add olive oil into a nice sauce consistence, then cover and keep in the fridge.

 

Prepare the artichokes by cutting away the tops of the leaves and about 1 cm from the stems. Remove all the tough outer leaves. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add the lemon juice. Cook the artichokes for 8 minutes. Remove from the saucepan, cut into quarters and remove the fuzzy centre with a teaspoon. Place the artichokes in a bowl, cover and keep refrigerated.


Peel the green asparagus and cut away the tough stems. Cut them into about 3- 4 cm long pieces and microwave for a few minutes until soft. Place them in the fridge. 


Cook the risotto the classic way. Warm 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat in a heavy cocotte, such as Le Creuset, and sauté the shallot and garlic for 5- 10 minutes. add the rice and stir until well coated with the oil. Cook for 25 minutes adding the liquid, first the wine then the stock, ladle by ladle stirring continually. The rice should be al dente, cooked but firm to the bite. Remove the cocotte from the heat and stir in the parmesan.


Just before the risotto is ready, warm 1 tbsp. olive oil in a frying pan. Quickly sauté the cherry tomato halves and warm the artichokes, asparagus, and black olives for a few minutes.


Divide the risotto into bowls and place the vegetables on top. Surround the risotto with the green basil sauce.


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Loop hike from Ste-Agnès

 

Ste-Agnès viewed from Pas de la Piastre


One February not long ago, we hiked to Mont Ours from Ste-Agnès. We now decided to do a loop hike passing through three cols above the village: Col de Verroux (935 m), Col des Banquettes (736 m) and Pas de la Piastre (935 m). It turned out to be another great winter experience in the mountains so near the Mediterranean coast.

As before, we parked at the village entrance (about 600 m elev.) and headed towards Col de Verroux along the well-signposted (#441, 442, 444, 445) trail. After a brief descent to Peyre Grosse (a few houses), we ascended above Ravin de Verroux eventually joining an ancient military track before the Col.


View to east from Ste-Agnès
View east from Ste-Agnès
Trail leaving Ste-Agnès


 From Col de Verroux (signpost #446), we forked left and followed a quasi-horizontal dirt track on the southern flank of Mount Ours and Pic de Garuche, heading west. We had super views as far as to the Mediterranean, Cime de Baudon, Bausson, and Ste-Agnès.


We reached a crossroads at signpost #472 and merged with the trail from Mont Ours. We descended along the rather steep trail towards Col des Banquettes, passing the bunkers located just above the Col. Last year, we hiked back to Ste-Agnès along the narrow but paved Route du Col des Banquettes, the shortest option. This time we ascended to Pas de la Piastre, a more interesting option. The old hiking signpost at the col had disappeared but the start of the steep trail was well visible between two dirt tracks. The trail was marked with yellow signs and was easy to follow in the woods to Pas de la Piastre.

   
Pointe Siricocca and Mont Ours
Pointe Siricocca and Mont Ours
Trail after signpost#443
Trail after signpost#443
Ravin de Verroux
Ravin de Verroux
Old military track near Col de Verroux
Old military track near Col de Verroux
Col de Verroux
Col de Verroux

From Pas de la Piastre under Cime de Bausson (1087 m), we had a great view down to Ste-Agnès, with a glimpse of the coastline at Menton. From here, we descended rapidly back to our starting point.


Distance: 9,5 km


Climb: 605 m


Duration: 3h 45 active hiking time


Map: “Nice-Menton” Côte d’Azur 3742 OT


Cime de Baudon
Cime de Baudon

Path south of Col des Banquettes
Path south of Col des Banquettes

Hike track from Ste-Agnès
Hike track from Ste-Agnès





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Stuffed chicken escalopes

Stuffed chicken escalopes


For this recipe, you will need very thin chicken or turkey escalopes. Thin; store- bought escalopes should be placed between two sheets of aluminium foil and rolled to make them even thinner.

If possible, choose grilled and salted pistachios for the stuffing. Peeled pistachios can also be grilled in a dry frying pan with some salt added.

2 servings

2 very thin chicken or turkey escalopes

Olive oil

100 ml white wine

A handful of peeled pistachios and pine nuts

1 shallot, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

½ small courgette, finely chopped

A handful of baby spinach leaves

Freshly ground black pepper

½ tsp. dried Provençal herbs

Kitchen string


Preheat the oven to 180° C, roast.


In a mortar, crush the peeled, grilled and salted pistachios and pine nuts with a pestle. Chop the courgette into small pieces.


Warm 2 tbsp. olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Sautè the courgette, shallot, and garlic for about 10 minutes until soft. Add the pistachios, pine nuts, and some black pepper. Add the spinach and continue cooking for a few minutes until the spinach is wilted.


Divide the stuffing on the escalopes and roll them. Tie the rolls with string.


Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the rolls on both sides until golden. Place the rolls in a small oven- proof dish and pour the white wine around them. Transfer to oven and cook for 20 minutes. 


Serve with rice mix and green beans.


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