Jul 052015
 
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Petit Pois Salad

 

Last week, the award-winning bistro La Serre asked me to try making one of the new summer salads on their menu, ‘Petit Pois Salad’. I was excited that La Serre had reached out to me but also somewhat nervous. I’m a confidant home cook, but this place has a great reputation for excellent food – would I really be able to re-create some of that food in my kitchen?

 

La Serre was started in 2013 by Executive Chef Izu Ani, the former Executive Chef of La Petite Maison in Dubai. In April 2015, La Serre was the first restaurant in the Middle East to be awarded the ‘Snail of Approval’ by The Slow Food Movement. The award is a recognition of the restaurant’s commitment to sourcing authentic, sustainable ingredients and respecting the time and effort it takes to create truly good food. A few months later in June 2015, Chef Izu was named Head Chef of the Year (Independent Outlet) at the Caterer Middle East awards.

 

The list of ingredients

The first thing I noticed about the recipe for Petit Pois Salad was that the ingredient list was comprised of easily accessible items which I have at home most of the time. The one ingredient that was not so easy to find in Dubai was the fresh petit pois, so I decided to use frozen organic peas instead. Sliced raw mange-tout would also work well and flavour-wise might be a closer approximation to fresh petit pois, so that’s an option I will experiment with next time I make this salad.

 

A small challenge with measurements

Despite the ingredient list being very accessible, what I found more challenging was one of the things which separates professional kitchens from home kitchens: the measurement units. In a professional kitchen, food is made in much larger quantities so measurements of salt, sugar and olive oil are often given in grams rather than the tablespoons and teaspoons which home cooks are accustomed to using. My manual weighing scale (which measures in units of 20g) did not manage to accurately weigh out 10 grams of sea salt. A small digital weighing scale may work better for this, but I don’t have one so I decided to just eyeball it and add as much salt, sugar and olive oil as looked right to me, which I think worked out well.

 

Confit tomato: to make it or buy it?

True to their ‘Slow Food’ ethos, there is one part of the Petit Pois Salad which requires three long, slow hours of cooking – the confit tomato. It was not difficult to make, but you would need to find a time when you will be at home for three hours straight. Since the heat is set extremely low (40 degrees Celsius), you can’t double-duty the oven by using it for anything else at the same time (forget throwing in a leg of lamb to cook alongside it for dinner). Although the concentrated flavour of the confit tomato was very good, the recipe helpfully suggests a short-cut for anyone who does not have the time or inclination to make homemade confit tomato: sun-dried tomatoes can be used as an alternative. It would be even better if you can find semi-dried tomatoes which are slightly plumper and more juicy than sun-dried tomatoes. While I am glad that I tried making home-made confit tomato, next time I will probably look for a jar of good quality semi-dried tomatoes to use instead.

 

The final result

I haven’t eaten the Petit Pois Salad at La Serre so I don’t know how closely mine compares to it, but I was very happy with the end result. Each bite was packed with fresh and vibrant flavours and would make a great summertime accompaniment to grilled fish or lamb. Below, I have included my own version of the recipe first (with the changes which I made along the way) and then the original version of the recipe from La Serre below it.

 

 

Share your thoughts: Have you tried the Petit Pois Salad at La Serre, Dubai? I would love to know your thoughts on it!

 

Petit Pois Salad

 

 

I have included my own version of the recipe first and the original version of the recipe afterwards.

 

PETIT POIS SALAD (Total Salads’ version)

(Serves 4 as a side dish)

 

Ingredients:

280g small Italian peas, frozen peas, or raw mange-tout (sliced)

40g shallots

20g chives

2 Tbsp basil leaves (julienne – finely sliced)

40g confit tomato (see recipe below)

 

For the confit tomatothis can be substituted for sun-dried tomatoes 

  • 70g tomatoes (approximately 2 medium tomatoes)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • A sprig of thyme
  • 1 plump garlic clove, finely chopped

 

For the white balsamic dressing

  • 1 Tbsp white balsamic
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tsp jalapeno jus (juice from jalapeno jar)
  • 1/4 tsp Maldon salt flake

 

Directions:

  1. To make the confit tomato, blanch the tomatoes and skin them. To blanch the tomatoes, cut an ‘x’ into the bottom of the tomatoes and place them in a pot of boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Remove them from the water and immediately place them in a bowl of ice-cold water. Allow them to sit in the cold water for 1-2 minutes.The tomato skins should easily slip off.
  2. Cut the blanched tomatoes into quarters and remove the seeds inside. Remove any moisture with a paper towel.
  3. Put the tomatoes into a bowl and add the salt, sugar, oil, thyme and garlic. Mix thoroughly and spread out on a baking tray and leave to dry in a warm oven (40 degrees Celsius – my oven starts at 50 degrees Celsius so I used that temperature instead).
  4. Leave in the oven for three hours, remove and leave to cool. Dice, then set aside.
  5. To make the dressing put all ingredients into a Tupperware container and shake thoroughly.
  6. if you have fresh petit pois, separate them from their pods. If you are using frozen peas, boil them until al dente. If you are using mange-tout, wash and dry them and then slice them into 1-inch pieces.
  7. Season the peas with salt and then add the shallots, chives, basil leaves and confit tomato cubes then mix thoroughly.
  8. Arrange on a plate and dress liberally with the white balsamic dressing
  9. Season to taste, then serve.

 

 

 

PETIT POIS SALAD (La Serre’s original version)

(Serves 4 as a side dish)

 

Ingredients:

280g small Italian peas

40g shallots

20g chives

Basil leaves (julienne) 

40g confit tomato (see recipe below)

 

For the confit tomatothis can be substituted for sun-dried tomatoes 

  • 70g tomatoes
  • 10g sea salt
  • 15g sugar
  • 45g olive oil
  • A sprig of thyme
  • 4g finely chopped garlic

 

For the white balsamic dressing

  • 200ml white balsamic
  • 320ml olive oil
  • 40g jalapeno jus (juice from jalapeno jar)
  • 10g Maldon salt flake

 

Directions:

  1. To make the confit tomato, blanch the tomatoes and skin them. Cut them into quarters and remove the insides, turning them into petals. Remove any moisture with a paper towel.
  2. Put the tomatoes into a bowl and add the salt, sugar, oil, thyme and garlic. Mix thoroughly and spread out on a baking tray and leave to dry in a warm oven (40 degrees Celsius).
  3. Leave in the oven for three hours, remove and leave to cool. Dice, then set aside.
  4. To make the dressing put all ingredients into a Tupperware container and shake thoroughly.
  5. Season the peas with salt and then add the shallots, chives, basil leaves and confit tomato cubes then mix thoroughly.
  6. Arrange on a plate and dress liberally with the white balsamic dressing
  7. Season to taste, then serve.

 

Share your thoughts: Have you tried the Petit Pois Salad at La Serre, Dubai? I would love to know your thoughts on it!

 

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