Christophe Emé says this is the kind of food his mother, Maryvonne, used to make when he was growing up in the Loire valley. Everything came from their backyard: the beans, the shallots, the laitue (similar to Boston lettuce), the eggs. His mother even made vinegar for the dressing. Emé refines and updates the recipe by using quail eggs instead of hen eggs and substituting arugula for the lettuce. Maryvonne used peanut oil in the dressing, as is traditional in the Loire, but Emé opts for olive oil instead.
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2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 dozen quail eggs (see Note)
6 cups water
Three 3-inch strips of lemon zest
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 star anise pod
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled down to the tails, and deveined
2 pounds haricots verts
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1 bunch of arugula (6 ounces), large stems discarded
2 medium shallots, minced
How to Make It
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a simmer and add the white wine vinegar. Add the quail eggs and simmer over moderate heat until hard-cooked, about 7 minutes. Drain the eggs and crack the shells against the side of the pan. Fill the pan with cold water and let stand until the eggs are cool.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the 6 cups of water with the lemon zest, cracked pepper, bay leaves, fennel seeds, star anise and 1 teaspoon of salt. Simmer the court bouillon (seasoned water) for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and simmer just until cooked, about 2 minutes. Drain the shrimp in a colander; let cool. Pick out and discard any bits of seasoning.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the haricots verts until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain well and spread the beans out on a baking sheet to cool.
In a small bowl, whisk the sherry vinegar with the mustard. Whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Peel the quail eggs and halve them lengthwise. In a large bowl, toss the arugula with 1 tablespoon of the dressing and spread on a platter. In the same bowl, gently toss the haricots verts with the shallots, quail eggs and all but 1 tablespoon of the remaining dressing. Mound the haricot vert salad on the arugula. Add the shrimp to the bowl and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon of dressing. Top the haricots verts with the shrimp and serve.
The recipe can be prepared through Step 4 up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate the shrimp, haricots verts, eggs and dressing separately.
Instead of quail eggs, you can use 6 large chicken eggs; boil for 10 minutes and halve lengthwise.
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