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Crisp Fried Vegetables with Tapenade

Chef Laurent Gras Recipes

Crisp Fried Vegetables with Tapenade

Alta Editions

The salty, pungent flavors of tapenade, a combination of anchovy, garlic, and black olive, bring a sharp taste to the fried vegetables, balancing their natural sweetness and cutting through the richness of deep frying. The batter is flavorful, airy, and delicate.
— Laurent Gras

This Provence-inspired Crisp Fried Vegetables with Tapenade recipe is a preview from chef Laurent Gras's multiple IACP award-winning cookbook, My Provence.

4 servings   |   Prep Time: 45 minutes   |   Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

For the Tapenade

  • 6 cloves (20 g) garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons (40 g) Sicilian capers in brine, rinsed
  • 4 whole (20 g) anchovy fillets in olive oil
  • ½ pound (200 g) pitted black olives
  • 10 leaves basil, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Juice of ½ lemon (optional)
  • ½ cup (100 g) extra-virgin olive oil

For the Batter

  • 1 ⅓ cups (200 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) sea salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup (200 ml) beer or lager
  • 3 egg whites

For the Fried Vegetables

  • 1 quart (1 l) canola oil, for frying
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, peeled
  • 1 zucchini, cut crosswise into ¼-inch (1 cm) slices
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled, and cut crosswise into ¼-inch (1 cm) slices
  • 4 asparagus, stems peeled, trimmed to equal length
  • 1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 small leaves Romaine lettuce, from the heart
  • 8 leaves basil
  • Sea salt

Method

For the Tapenade

  1. In a large mortar, pound and grind the garlic with the pestle to form a smooth paste. Add the capers and anchovies and continue to grind. Add the olives, a few at a time, pounding after each addition. Stir in the basil and lemon juice, if using. Slowly incorporate the olive oil in a steady stream while mixing with the pestle to form an emulsion. Stop adding oil periodically to ensure that the oil is well incorporated.
  2. Alternately, place the garlic, capers, anchovies, and olives in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal chopping blade and pulse to form a paste. Stir in the basil and a squirt of lemon juice, if using. Slowly incorporate the olive oil, pulsing between additions, to form an emulsion. Set aside until ready to use.

For the Batter

  1. Sift the flour and the sea salt into a medium mixing bowl. In a small bowl, beat together the eggs and the beer. Slowly whisk this egg mixture into the flour to avoid clumping. The mixture should be the consistency of thin pancake batter. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for an hour to allow the gluten to relax and the flavors to develop, or until needed. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold half of the whites into the batter to lighten it. Then add the remaining whites, folding just until incorporated.

For the Fried Vegetables

  1. Place several layers of paper towel on a wire rack to drain the oil from the vegetables as they are fried. Arrange the vegetables on a large platter. Season lightly with sea salt, on both sides, and cover with paper towel. Let sit for 30 minutes so that the vegetables lose some of their natural water content and the seasoning penetrates their flesh. Pat dry.
  2. In a 3-quart (3 l) saucepan or small deep fryer bring the canola oil to 425ºF (220°C). Work with only 4 or 5 vegetables at the time, to keep the oil at the right temperature and prevent the batter from absorbing too much oil. Place the vegetables in the batter. Let sit for a minute so they are evenly coated. Using a fork, remove the vegetables one by one, letting any excess batter drain back into the bowl. Place in the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry, turning once or twice, until golden brown on both sides. Using a skimmer or a large perforated spoon, remove the vegetables from the oil. Place on the paper towel and season with salt while still hot. Remove any bits of batter from the frying oil. Repeat with the remaining vegetables. Serve immediately.

To Assemble the Dish

Divide the tapenade into 4 individual serving bowls. Divide the fried vegetables among four serving plates and serve on folded napkins.


Get this recipe and over 40 other delicious Provence-inspired dishes in Laurent Gras: My Provence, the award-winning online cookbook from renowned chef Laurent Gras, for $9.99.
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