Your taste buds will celebrate once spring asparagus makes its annual appearance at local markets. These whole grain patties are the perfect way to take advantage of its vegetal sweetness and tender texture. Soft silken-style tofu is a great base for this lively sauce, but you can also make it using plain yogurt or sour cream. Leftover sauce is great on sandwiches and burgers.
Bread crumbs are an easy DIY kitchen project. Simply grind up slices of day-old bread into fine crumbs using a food processor and then store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Place farro and 3 cups (750 mL) water in medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer covered for 30 minutes, or until grains are tender. Drain well and set aside to cool in large bowl.
Using vegetable peeler or mandoline, shave asparagus into long, thin strips. Chop strips and any whole tips into small pieces and transfer to bowl with farro. Stir in eggs, bread crumbs, Parmesan, walnuts, green onions, garlic, thyme, and lemon juice.
Place sun-dried tomatoes in small bowl, cover with warm water, and let soak for 15 minutes. Remove tomatoes from bowl, reserve soaking water, and place in food processor or blender container along with tofu, roasted red pepper, lemon zest, cayenne or chili powder, and salt. Blend until smooth. If mixture is too thick, blend in some of the water used to soak tomatoes until desired consistency is reached.
Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. For each patty, place a mound of farro mixture in the palm of your hand, carefully place in skillet, and press down gently with spatula to flatten. Heat for 2 minutes per side, or until golden. Keep cooked patties warm in 200 F (93 C) oven while you prepare remaining farro mixture. You should have about 12 patties.
Serve patties topped with Red Pepper Sauce and chives.
Tourtière is, for me, the dish that best represents Québec. It can be traced back to the 1600s, and there’s no master recipe; every family has their own twist. Originally, it was made with game birds or game meat, like rabbit, pheasant, or moose; that’s one of the reasons why I prefer it with venison instead of beef or pork. Variation: If you prefer to make single servings, follow our lead at the restaurant, where we make individual tourtières in the form of a dome (pithivier) and fill them with 5 ounces (160 g) of the ground venison mixture. Variation: You can also use a food processor to make the dough. Place the flour, salt, and butter in the food processor and pulse about ten times, until the butter is incorporated—don’t overmix. It should look like wet sand, and a few little pieces of butter here and there is okay. With the motor running, through the feed tube, slowly add ice water until the dough forms a ball—again don’t overmix. Wrap, chill, and roll out as directed above.
My love of artichokes continues with this classic recipe, one of the best ways to eat this interesting, underrated, and strange vegetable. Frozen artichoke hearts are a time-saving substitute, though the flavour and texture of fresh artichokes are, by far, much superior and definitely preferred.
Cervelle de canut is basically the Boursin of France, an herbed fresh farmer’s cheese spread that’s a speciality of Lyon. The name is kind of weird, as it literally means “silk worker’s brain,” named after nineteenth-century Lyonnaise silk workers, who were called canuts. Sadly, the name reflects the low opinion of the people towards these workers. Happily for us, though, it’s delicious—creamy, fragrant, and fresh at the same time. Cervelle de canut is one of my family’s favourite dishes. It’s a great make-ahead appetizer that you can pop out of the fridge once your guests arrive. Use a full-fat cream cheese for the dish, or it will be too runny and less delicious.