[Zucchini and Mushroom Crumble]
On Christmas day, Maxence and his mother joined us for lunch at my parents’. My mother and I cooked for this meal too, preparing most of it the day before.
As a first course, we served a Zucchini and Mushroom Crumble, a recipe we had come up with a week before, during our Christmas-menu-brainstorming session. Elaborating menus is one of my favorite activities, and practicing it with my mother was a lot of fun : the ping-pong mode we fell into, throwing different dish ideas into the air, catching them, morphing them, and throwing them back, keeping an ingredient but changing the method of preparation, staying with a theme but putting a different twist to it, until we settled on a combination that suited our needs in terms of taste, festiveness, ease and fun of preparation.
After this, we served a roasted turkey, which I unfortunately didn’t get to photograph before the carving, stuffed with a walnut chestnut stuffing. I had never made stuffing before, but my mother had numerous times, and the walnut chestnut idea was from a magazine clipping. But as we started making the stuffing and I was asking about ingredient X or Y or some step the recipe called for, I quickly realized and pointed out with a laugh that she needed no recipe at all : what she really intended to make was her usual (delicious) stuffing, adding walnuts and chestnuts in the mix. And I can’t really tell you how it was made, as I spent the entire recipe-making time chopping walnuts and chestnuts, sneaking teeny bits in every now and then. We served the turkey with a celery root purée, a traditional Christmas meal fare in France, and a sweet potato purée with maple syrup, inspired from the Thanksgiving meals Maxence and I were lucky enough to partake in back in the US. The turkey was fantastic, moist and flavorful, and the trimmings were equally wonderful.
Next came a cheese course of dry goat cheese, Mont d’Or (a.k.a. vacherin, served in its pine bark with a spoon as is the custom) and Etorky, a sheep’s milk cheese from the Pyrénées.
Crumble de Courgette aux Champignons
– 6 medium zucchinis
– 500 g mixed mushrooms
– a quarter of an onion
– 1 tsp flour
– olive oil
– 50 g oatmeal
– 50 g breadcrumbs
– 50 g butter, diced
– 50 g grated cheese (parmesan, comté…)
– thyme and dried herbs of your choice
– 6 leaves of curly parsley
– salt, pepper
Wash the mushrooms under clear water, dry on a towel, and cut the large ones in smaller pieces. Dice up the onion quarter finely. In a large skillet, heat up some olive oil, and put the onion in to cook for a few minutes over medium heat, until it starts to get translucent. Add the mushrooms, season with dried herbs, and cook for about ten minutes, until the mushrooms have shrunk and they have released their water. Add the flour and stir to thicken the mixture a little.
Cut the zucchinis in small pieces, preferably in little matchsticks, using your mom’s bright orange mandoline. In a large skillet, heat up a little olive oil over high heat, put the zucchinis in, toss to coat, season with thyme, salt and pepper, and lower the heat. Cover and cook for about twenty minutes, until the zucchinis are tender, but not limp.
Prepare the crumble : put the oatmeal, breadcrumbs, butter and cheese in a medium bowl. Blend this all together using the tips of your fingers, until it resembles coarse sand. Season with salt, pepper and herbs.
The vegetables and the crumble can be prepared the day before.
Preheat the oven to 220°C (430°F). Set out six ramequins, preferably the wide and shallow ones used for crèmes brûlées. In each, spread out a layer of zucchinis, then a layer of mushrooms. Distribute the crumble mixture evenly on top, and place a parsley leave in the center. Put in the oven to bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crumble is golden. Serve immediately.
Every body raved about this. It’s a light and tasty dish that leaves room for what comes next, and the combination of soft vegetables and crispy topping is an excellent one. And I particularly liked the little dried parsley leaf! The crumble topping can of course be used on other combinations of vegetables, and I used it once successfully in a main dish of salmon and leek crumble…