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One French word: navet, one French recipe: pétales de légumes

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navet, masculine noun (un navet, le navet, des navets) = turnip (pronounced nah-vey)  .

Not most people’s favourite vegetable, but when they are young and fresh in spring their flavour is delicate and not overpowering as it often is in autumn and winter, and they can easily be eaten raw. Or used to accompany a meat dish, boiled briefly then glazed in a sugar and butter mixture.

Un navet is also currently used to denote a flop, when talking of a bad film, theatre performance or book.

My recipe today is a little different to the taste buds: pétales de légumes = vegetable petals

Main ingredients – looks a bit like a still life, doesn’t it…

For each person you will need:

  • One small raw spring turnip
  • One small raw beetroot
  • One ripe tomato (I used a beef tomato)
  • One small courgette (zuccchini)
  • and any other vegetables you may feel like that can be cut into fine slices (radishes?), or fruits (oranges, strawberries?)
  • salt
  • chili flakes
  • olive oil
  • raspberry vinegar

Preparation:

Wash and trim all the vegetables. Peel the beetroot but do not peel either the turnip or the courgette.

Slice the courgette into as many thin lengthways strips as possible, discarding the first slice, which is just skin (simply for aethetic reasons), and place around the edge of each person’s plate in wavy, curly shapes.

Peel and slice the beetroot into very fine slices and being careful not to taint the courgette with beetroot juice (again for the aesthetics), place an overlapping circle of beetroot slices inside the ring of courgettes.

Wash your hands, the knife and the chopping board. Finely slice the turnip and place another ring inside the beetroot ring. Do not season.

Core and skin the tomato (plunge it into boiling water for a minute or so, the skin will come off easily). Cut into small cubes, place in a bowl with the equivalent of one smallish dried chili (outside and seeds), flaked. Quite a lot of salt (tomatoes need salt), but you can rectify later. One tbs raspberry vinegar. 2 tbs olive oil (if you are several at table increase the oil and vinegar). Mix to a smooth paste with a soup mixer. It makes a sort of rather thick gazpacho-like mixture. Taste and rectify seasoning. It should be fairly chili hot, vinegary, with a good strong flavour of olive oil.  Place a spoonful of this mixture in a tiny bowl in the centre of your vegetable plate. Leave the rest of the tomato dressing in a larger bowl on the table, because it is more-ish and people can help themselves and drown their plates in it if they like. But it looks better to present only a small quantity.

This is an excellent starter, fresh and appetizing-looking, but you can also make a main course of it if you are feeling fragile and only want raw vegetables, maybe accompanied with crusty bread and butter, or viande des grisons (thin cured beef slices). Or parma ham.

Bon appétit!

About OneFrenchWord

I was a professional linguist and have been a life-long foodie. I am now lucky enough to be retired and free to roam the beaches around my home at the tip of the Finistère (Brittany, France). Writing is occupying a larger place in my life, with this blog and a children's book in preparation. I shall feel much happier calling myself a writer when I have published a book. And so posts on OneFrenchWord will be published first as an e-book, my ambition being to see a glossy volume on French language and cuisine in print some day. So keep reading, and snap up the book when it appears!

8 responses »

  1. Looks like a nice, light, springlike starter. I love beetroot but have always found navets a bit boring. However, if you roast them with other root veg plus garlic, rosemary, thyme or whatever herbs you have to hand it makes them more interesting.

    Reply
  2. Long time, no see. I do hope all’s well.

    Reply
  3. Hope you are Ok. I know you have to travel to family, hope all is well there too.

    Reply
  4. My mouth is just watering looking at the plate of fresh veggies. Yum!

    Reply
  5. Why no more posts? I love these!!!!
    Susan
    http://Www.susanmedyn.com

    Reply
  6. Love this idea of combining learning new French words with cooking – I enjoy both! Keep up the great work.

    Reply

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