Book of the Month: Plats du Jour: The girl & the fig’s Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country

Posted by Olivia on Monday, March 11th, 2013

Book of the Month: Plats du Jour: The girl & the fig’s Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country

Each month we’ll be featuring a new cookbook, and this month we’re pleased to recommend Sondra Bernstein’s Plats du Jour: The girl & the fig’s Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country.

In the spirit of Women’s History Month and Girlfriends Getaway Month, we chose to highlight this fabulous local epicurean woman for her commitment to the bounty of California’s landscape and seasonal foods!

A staple restaurant in the Sonoma region, the girl & the fig is a culinary celebration of all things abundant in these parts: produce, wine, cheese, olive oil. The woman behind the restaurant, Bernstein, reflects her appreciation of California’s local food supply in her Provencal-inspired menu. Dishes are uncomplicated with clean flavors, and the menu changes seasonally—a feat that can only be accomplished when the ingredients are wholesome, fresh, and produced consciously.

In late 2011 Bernstein released her newest cookbook Plats du Jour: The girl & the fig’s Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country, a gorgeous book heralding seasonal foods. It contains over 100 recipes featuring ingredients from California’s wine country, along with profiles of local food growers, producers, and artisans—including a profile of us over here at The Olive Press!

This week we’re delighted to share with you a recipe from Bernstein’s cookbook Plats du Jour: Spring Lamb Leg, Chickpea, Cucumber & Feta Salad. Fitting for early spring, this delectable dish reflects the delicate, grassy, and subtly sweet flavors of the season.

Spring Lamb Leg, Chickpea, Cucumber & Feta Salad
Ingredients
For the marinade:
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (The Olive Press recommends Certified Organic Tuscan Blend)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
10 whole black peppercorns, crushed
6 top round lamb steaks (7 ounces each)

For the vinaigrette:
¼ cup champagne vinegar
¾ cup blended oil (The Olive Press recommends any Medium Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
½ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 4 lemons)
Salt and white pepper to taste

For the vegetables:
2 cups chickpeas, cooked (see Note)
1 small red onion, julienned
2 English cucumbers, seeded and sliced into 1/4-inch half moons
1 cup fresh mint leaves, chiffonade
8 ounces feta cheese (preferably French sheep’s milk  feta)
½ cup Lemon Vinaigrette (see above)
Extra-virgin olive oil (The Olive Press recommends Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
¼ cup Balsamic Reduction (page 311; optional, for garnish)
Salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup blended oil (The Olive Press recommends any Medium Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

Directions
To prepare the marinade:
Combine the olive oil, herbs, garlic, and peppercorns in a bowl. Pour the marinade over the lamb steaks and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.

To prepare the vinaigrette:
Whisk the vinegar, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper together. Refrigerate for up to 1 day ahead.

To prepare the vegetables:
Combine the chickpeas, onion, cucumbers, mint, and feta with the vinaigrette. Toss gently, season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Remove the lamb from the marinade and discard any excess marinade. Season the lamb with salt and black pepper. In an ovenproof pan over medium-high heat, heat the blended oil and sear the lamb on all sides. Place the pan in the oven and roast until the desired temperature is reached, about 7 minutes for medium-rare. Let the lamb rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

To serve:
Divide the chickpea salad among 6 plates. Slice the lamb steak into 4 pieces and fan them out next to the salad. Garnish each plate with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and Balsamic Reduction. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Note:
If possible, use fresh garbanzo beans. They are in season from approximately June to September in Northern California. If you can’t find fresh garbanzos, try Rancho Gordo classic garbanzo beans. Both of these options will have a much brighter, earthier flavor than canned beans.

Serves 6.


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