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Le Grill: Spring Vegetables

Le Grill is a one-Michelin-star restaurant on the eight floor of the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. With a ceiling that opens to provide dining under the stars, and with panoramic views of the Mediterranean, as well as most of the princpality of Monaco, Le Grill is known for pleasing the eye, as well as the palate.

On the menu today, spring vegetables, prepared as a side dish. Our chef, Sylvain Etiévant, adds pizzazz to this simple recipe by creative use of unusual ingredients -- vegetable flowers.

Chef Etiévant uses vegetables that will provide variety in colour, taste and texture.

Spring vegetables (side dish for two)

4 green asparagus stalks
4 white asparagus stalks
4 baby asparagus stalks
6 baby carrots (yellow, orange and white)
2 baby zucchinis
2 baby turnips
2 celery stalks
half cup green peas

The chef at home, Chef Etiévant says, can personalize this recipe by choosing her own favourite vegetables.

Whichever vegetables are used, you will master the art of presentation by following a few simple tips from Chef Etiévant.

First, separate the green vegetables from the rest and treat them to set their colour. Chef Etiévant uses the same process as blanching (by which vegetables are dipped in boiling water and then immersed in ice in preparation for freezing or canning). However, as these vegetables are intended to be consumed immediately, they are cooked in the boiling water for a couple of minutes. The idea is to remove them from the boiling water when they are cooked but still crisp. They are then allowed to soak in the ice for a few minutes and then drained on a paper towel.

The other vegetables are sauteed in olive oil. To add flavour, pour on a tablespoon of chicken stock. You may also add herbs, such as basil or thyme. These vegetables are removed from the pan and excess liquid is allowed to drain off. (Here's another tip: If you have vegetables with strong colour, such as beets, these should be further separated from the rest and sauteed and drained by themselves so their liquids would not tint the other vegetables.)

To give the dish an enticing glaze, the final step is to saute all the ingredients together in extra virgin olive oil.

Before presenting the dish, decorate with edible flowers such as chive blossoms and the flowers of zucchinis and broccoli.

Ask your grocer or check specialty food stores for these flowers. If they aren't available, you may have to grow your own.

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