Not quite vinegar and not quite wine, I’ve recently discovered verjus—a juice made from unripened grapes. Sour-flavored verjus has existed for centuries, and cooks added it to both sweet and savory dishes before they had access to lemons, for example. I tasted the “green juice” (vert means green, jus means juice) for the first time when some Swiss friends brought us a delicious homemade cake flavored with locally-made verjus.
Verjus is made in Auvernier, a little village near us that’s home to at least half a dozen winemakers. While Switzerland has several verjus producers, it’s not unique to this area. You can also find verjus made in other wine growing regions, such as in France and California.
I purchased my own bottle of verjus this week and made the same special cake—sans dairy. To save time, I purchased pre-made pastry dough from Coop—the kind I used for my Tarte aux Pruneaux back in the fall. It was incredibly easy, and I was happy to share an allergy-friendly version of this Swiss-style treat with my entire family.
Gâteau au Verjus
(dairy, egg and nut-free)
Adapted from the recipe provided on the bottle of organic verjus produced by Jean-Michel Henrioud, Auvernier.
Prepared pastry dough or pâte brisée (to fit a round pan about 11-12 inches or 30 cm across)
150 grams of sugar
75 grams of flour
100 grams dairy-free margarine
125 ml verjus
1. Line the bottom of the round pan with parchment paper. Lay the prepared dough evenly into the pan. Using a fork, prick the dough on the bottom of the pan several times.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour. Pour into the prepared pastry dough. Top the flour and sugar mixture with pieces of the dairy-free margarine.
3. Bake for 25 minutes in an oven preheated to 200ºC/400ºF. Then, remove from the oven and gently pour the verjus over the filling. Place back in the oven to bake for another 2-3 minutes until the filling sets and turns golden brown.
For tonight’s dinner, maybe I’ll try using verjus with pork tenderloin, paired with some new unfiltered white wine? Now if I could just find a babysitter… Bon week-end, everyone!