Country French Light
Originally published the week of July 10, 2000.

All content copyright by World Wide Recipes.

 

This cool summer salad makes a refreshing appetizer.

Cucumbers with Mint Vinaigrette

2 - 3 cucumbers 
1 Tbs (15 ml) olive oil 
2 tsp (10 ml) champagne or white wine vinegar 
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 
3 Tbs (45 ml) finely shredded fresh mint

Peel the cucumbers and slice them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard. Cut the cucumbers into thin slices and combine in a bowl with the oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Marinate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Add the mint immediately before serving. Serves 4 to 6.

 

The creaminess of this soup is due to the potatoes, a trick you might want to use to reduce the fat in some of your favorite soup recipes.

Low-Fat Creamy Carrot Soup

1 Tbs (15 ml) olive oil 
1 medium onion, chopped 
1 lb (450 g) fresh carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch (2 cm) pieces 
1/2 lb (250 g) baking potato, peeled and diced 
4 cups (1 L) canned or fresh chicken broth 
1 cup (250 ml) non-fat milk 
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 
A grating of fresh nutmeg 
Chopped parsley to garnish

Heat the oil in a pot over moderate heat and sauti the onions until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, potato, and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes. Carefully puree the soup in small batches in a food processor or electric blender. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Serve hot or cold, garnished with chopped parsley. Serves 4 to 6.

 

Who says that lettuce has to be eaten raw? This dish demonstrates the versatility of the humble lettuce.

Braised Lettuce with Peas and Lemon

1 Tbs (15 ml) olive oil 
2 shallots, finely chopped 
1 head Boston lettuce, quartered 
1 cup (250 ml) chicken broth 
1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried thyme 
1/2 tsp (2 ml) sugar 
2 cups (500 ml) frozen peas, thawed 
1 tsp (5 ml) grated lemon zest 
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Sauti the shallots until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the lettuce, chicken broth. thyme, and sugar and simmer covered over low heat for about 5 minutes, until the lettuce is tender. Add the peas and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add the lemon zest, salt, and pepper, and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

 

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I wish more people would consider eating fresh fruit for dessert as they have been doing in France for centuries. This elegant method of serving makes it even more of a treat.

Peach Parfait

4 small peaches, thinly sliced
2 cups (500 ml) fresh blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or combination of berries
2 cups (500 ml) sparkling white wine
1/4 cup (60 ml) Grand Marnier, creme de cassis, or fruit-flavored liqueur of your choice

Place the peaches and berries in alternating layers in 4 champagne flutes or wine glasses. Add the sparkling wine and top with the fruit-flavored liqueur. Serves 4.

 

We are all familiar with the pesto Genovese from northern Italy, and this is how they do it just over the border in France. Use this reduced-fat version to liven up pasta, soup, or grilled fish or meat.

Reduced-Fat Pistou

1 cup (250 ml) packed fresh basil leaves
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) chicken broth
2 Tbs (30 ml) olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in an electric food processor or blender and process until smooth. Makes about 3/4 cup (180 ml).