You would think that after such a rich brunch, we would want something light for dinner. And you would be wrong. Like I said, the lack of Wii significantly increased the amount of time spent cooking this Easter. So we planned a fabulous dinner for ourselves. I asked Nick to try to recreate the celeriac-Roquefort soup he made for Thanksgiving, since both ingredients are cheap and plentiful here. I found a recipe for a roasted beet and carrot salad on the Cook’s Illustrated website that I wanted to try, given that, as Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini pointed out, beets are on their way out of season. I have never been a big fan of beets, but I continue to try them in different forms, hoping to find one that I enjoy. Nick put it quite well when he said, “I keep thinking that I’m going to grow up and like beets all of a sudden.” For the main dish, lamb seemed to be an obvious choice. But how to cook it? Given the recent influx of spring vegetables at the market, I decided on a navarin, a traditional French lamb stew with spring vegetables. I perused a few recipes, but in the end, just made it up as I went along.
Unfortunately, because the camera was on the fritz for most of the day, few pictures were taken. However, I did manage to get one good shot of each dish. So without further ado, I present to you the soup.
As you can see, it’s a puréed soup. What you can’t see is how magically the piquancy of the Roquefort complements the mellow, vegetal, nuttiness of the celeriac. Hazelnuts were a natural choice for garnish, both enhancing the flavor of the soup and providing a nice crunch for contrast. The watercress I threw on there because it looked pretty and I had some out anyway, for the salad. But the fresh, peppery bite of the greens added another dimension to the soup, highlighting the contribution of the Roquefort. Speaking of the salad…
It was a beautiful sight to behold. The deep reddish-purple of the beets next to the nearly burnt orange (for all you Texas fans out there) of the carrots and the vibrant green of the watercress made for a truly stunning tableau. And really easy to make. I simply cut the vegetables into batons, tossed them in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and stuck them in the oven for half an hour or so. They could have gone even longer, but we were getting hungry. While they roasted, I made a fairly strong vinaigrette with cider vinegar, shallots, honey, salt, pepper, and olive oil. When the beets and carrots were cooked through, I dumped them into a large bowl, tossed them with the vinaigrette, and added the watercress. Easy-peasy.
On to the pièce de résistance: spring lamb stew (or, as they call it here, navarin d’agneau).
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