Swiss Green Lentils in Coconut Milk

During an afternoon excursion to Château de Vaumarcus, I discovered Swiss green lentils: Lentilles de Sauverny. These lentils are an excellent source of protein, locally-grown and shelf-stable—particularly important for those Sundays when I have nothing to cook and nothing here is open. While I’m sharing a new recipe for an allergy-friendly version of Lentilles à l’ancienne (dairy/egg/nut-free), I must disclose that even though my dear children have tried it twice now, they refuse to eat lentils. If you like lentils, however, this is an easy recipe for a nutritious legume with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.

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At the castle in Vaumarcus, we found a small store selling produits du terroir, such as local wines, baked goods, and jam, etc. It was a nice surprise, and I found a few Swiss food products I hadn’t encountered before. The lentils immediately caught my eye, so I grabbed a bag to take home. A farm in the Geneva region, Ferme Courtois has been growing green lentils since 1995. Lentils are often paired with la longeole (IGP), a fatty Swiss sausage, also from Geneva, made of gelatinous pork and fennel seeds.

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Vaumarcus Castle

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Swiss green Lentilles de Sauverny

On the package, I discovered an easy recipe for Lentilles à l’ancienne. I first made it with olive oil and soy cream, but greatly preferred the version with dairy-free margarine and coconut milk. Since my finicky boys won’t eat it (for now, at least), I’ll continue to use it as a side dish, while searching for new ways to prepare lentils they may actually enjoy…

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Lentilles à l’ancienne (Lentils of old)

Adapted recipe originally from Ferme Courtois.

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

1 cup green lentils
3 cups water
1-2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dairy-free margarine (vegetable/olive oil works too)
Scant cup of coconut milk
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
Toppings: chopped parsley, cilantro or green onions

1. Rinse lentils thoroughly and pick out any debris or rocks. Place in a pot with the water and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat for 20-30 minutes, until the lentils are tender.

2. Drain the lentils. Whisk together the coconut milk and dijon mustard and set aside. Then, saute the chopped shallots in dairy-free margarine until they soften a bit and turn slightly translucent.

3. Add the drained lentils and the coconut milk and mustard mixture and stir together. Simmer over medium to low heat for another 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with freshly chopped parsley, cilantro or green onions to add some color.

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How do you prepare lentils? Any and all suggestions are welcomed. I just received a recipe this week from a kind reader that I’m looking forward to trying. Bon week-end!

There’s Cabbage in My Sausage

It’s taken me a few tries, but Saucisse aux choux has finally grown on me. With cabbage making up about 40 percent of the ingredients, this Swiss sausage from Vaud has a strong flavor. It also has a relatively soft texture, so the filling nearly squeezes out of the casing when you slice it. I know this all doesn’t sound very appetizing, but now that I’ve figured out the right way to prepare it, I’ve learned to enjoy the taste of cabbage sausage, which has a long history in Switzerland.

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The legend of Saucisse aux choux dates back to 879 when a German emperor visited Vaud. Without enough meat to serve their distinguished guest, the locals added some cabbage to the sausage. Today, the cabbage sausage is still popular in Switzerland, earning a protected status—Indication géographique protégée (IGP)—in 2004.

A typical way to eat the sausage, which we’ve tried several times, is steamed with a local white wine over a bed of potatoes and leeks. Known as Papet Vaudois, it’s extremely easy to make. For the Betty Bossi recipe I’ve been using, I just substitute dairy-free margarine for the butter.

Over the weekend, I tried a new interpretation of Papet Vaudois, also from Betty Bossi. The traditional cabbage sausage recipe is reinvented as tarte flambée (French), also known as flammkuchen (German). Flammkuchen is an Alsaltian-style thin crust pizza, most typically topped with crème fraîche, onions and lardons. Instead of the usual toppings, I used soy cream (Migros Soja Line Schlagcrème), thinly sliced potatoes, green onions and crumbled Saucisse aux choux.

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For the crust, I used my go-to Better Crocker pizza dough recipe and just rolled it extra thin. The flammkuchen recipe calls for 180 grams of crème fraîche, but I used much less, spreading a thinner layer across the dough in hopes it wouldn’t ooze over the edges.

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I often make pizza at home, instead using some finely grated extra-firm tofu in place of the cheese. While it absolutely isn’t the same, the finished product looks like cheese and provides some added protein. This Flammkuchen recipe also has the appearance of cheese, even though it’s just very thinly sliced potato layered over soy cream.

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Next time I make flammkuchen with potatoes, I’ll add some sliced ham, red onions and rosemary. If you happen to make one of these at home, please let me know how it turns out!

Swiss Agricultural Products: AOP/IGP Designations

The list of 30 Swiss agricultural products protected by the government includes cheese—which my son can’t safely eat—but what else appears on the list? I got my answer after (finally) reading a beautiful magazine about Switzerland’s La Semaine du Goût—a weeklong celebration of traditional Swiss foods (I attended Festin Neuchâtelois in September 2013 as part of this event).

To give you some background, the Swiss government uses two special designations for agricultural products other than wine:

  • Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP)” or Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)
  • Indication Géographique Protégée” (IGP) or Protected Geographic Indication (PGI)

You may have seen similar designations for wine before (e.g., AOC), which means the product was prepared in a certain way and from a particular geographic region. Designations like the two listed above can be applied to other agricultural food products, such as cheese or sausage.

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Pain de seigle valaisan AOP from Grimentz

The purpose of the AOP/IGP designation is both to protect consumers and the products. For consumers, the designation stands for a quality product produced in the traditional way. Also, this designation prohibits companies from using a traditional name for a protected food product, like Gruyère cheese, if they can’t meet certain production standards.

The complete list of Swiss AOP­/IGP products appears below (there’s also a map). I consider it one of my new “to-do” lists, as I personally want to try all of these foods. When I can, I’ll also share these products with my son—when they’re free of dairy, eggs (raw or undercooked) and almonds.


AOP Products


Spirits                                                                                              ­

Bread and cereals

Cheese*

Fruit, vegetables and spices


IGP Products**


Meats
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Saucisse aux Choux Vaudoise IGP

As I discover allergy-friendly recipes using these products, I’ll continue to update this post. And as a reminder, please check labels every time to determine if any of these products contain or may contain ingredients you are currently avoiding because of food allergies.

*Not dairy-free, based on my initial research.
**“Café de Colombia” (coffee from Colombia) is the only non-Swiss product to appear on this list, and it has an IGP designation.

On Monday, I’m heading to Bern for an early morning festival. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Bon week-end!

Updated: June 17, 2014

Longest Meal Ever: Festin Neuchâtelois 2013

I talked some friends into attending a 4-course meal of typically Swiss foods from the canton of Neuchâtel last weekend. Restaurants throughout the canton participated in Festin Neuchâtelois, including our pick—Restaurant Au Château in Colombier. Each site served a set meal of traditional dishes made with “produits du terroir” (local products). Little did I know when the meal started at noon, it would last for over 6 hours!

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When I saw the posters up around town for Festin Neuchâtelois, I decided I had to attend. One of my goals for this blog is to identify Swiss recipes I can recreate at home—free of my son’s allergens. Some recipes that I’ve found, like for Pane Ticinese, don’t call for milk, eggs and nuts. For other recipes, I enjoy adapting them to include allergy-friendly ingredients, like using coconut milk to make Salée à la Crème. I thought this would be a great opportunity to try lots of local foods, all at once.

Festin Neuchâtelois did not disappoint. It was the longest meal I’ve ever had. So many delicious plates of food. For the full menu at Restaurant Au Château that day, click here (in French). The photos below provide examples of some of the dishes served during each of the “services” or courses.

1er service

DSC01172Bondelle fumée du lac” (Smoked whitefish of the lake)

DSC01175“Gelée de pied de veau à la lie” (Calf’s foot jelly, this wasn’t my favorite…)

2ème service

DSC01178“Pot-au-feu” (French beef stew)

DSC01180“Saucisson neuchâtelois IGP cuit à la braise sur pétcha” (Neuchâtel sausage)

3ème service

DSC01182“Tourte aux poireaux” (Leek pie)

DSC01168“Pièces d’agneau rôties au serpolet” (Lamb roasted with wild thyme)

4ème service

DSC01184Tarte aux fruits, Crème bachique, Parfait glacé à l’absinthe”
(Fruit tart, Bacchanalian cream, and Parfait absinthe)

All of us took home a small cookbook with the recipes from our huge feast. I’m hoping to make some of these dishes soon and will post the recipes when/if I get them right. That reminds me… If anyone knows where I can get a cheap bricelet press, please send me an email (the new one I saw here in town was CHF 240!).

As always, thanks for reading and supporting Dairy-Free Switzerland. Bon week-end!

Swiss Bread: Valaisan Pain de Seigle

Our latest Swiss adventure happened last weekend in the canton of Valais. My brother-in-law’s invitation to run in the Sierre-Zinal race led us there, along with a great vacation rental with a kitchen that we found via airbnb.com. Known as one of Europe’s premier trail races, the Sierre-Zinal celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. So, we packed up the family and hit the road in a rental car, ready to explore the Val d’Anniviers, cheer on all the runners and enjoy some traditional Valasian rye bread.


Arriving in Grimentz

The quiet village of Grimentz served as our base for exploring around the valley. We took a narrow and windy road with lots of switchbacks up from Sierre. Squished in the middle between the boys and their enormous car seats, I felt a bit nauseous by the time we arrived. Luckily, the beautiful scenery made it worthwhile—mountain views, historic sun-weathered granaries and tons of window boxes filled with brilliant red geraniums.

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Rye Bread from Valais

Our first morning in Grimentz, I picked up a loaf of rye bread or pain de seigle at one of the two local bakeries we visited. Throughout Switzerland, with its several hundred bread varieties, the Valaisan rye bread is the only one that can use the AOP label (appellation d’origine protégée or protected designation of origin). Bread adorned with this label must be made with rye flour grown, milled and processed in Valais.

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I brought the rye bread with us to the playground in Grimentz, along with some other sweet pastries from the bakeries. After I photographed the bread on a picnic table while the kids were playing, I tried to rip off a hunk to try it. The bread was so dry and dense, I almost couldn’t tear it apart. After several tries, I wrestled off a small piece, took a bite and found myself chewing for a while. The taste was great, but I really needed a hot beverage, bowl of soup or a lot of jam to really enjoy it.

Before we left town, my husband picked up a bag of the traditional Valaisan rye flour, so I could trying making it at home. The tourist office in Grimentz sells the flour and has copies of the recipe to share. I was pleased to see the traditional recipe was dairy, egg and nut-free—although it can be made with nuts, raisins, dried apricots, cumin or other ingredients.

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“The farmers, bakers and millers of Grimentz wish you all enjoyment in making and tasting your own rye bread.” –From the Grimentz office of tourism

The bread was extremely easy to make, but with a 12-hour rising time, you have to be patient. My version was a little softer, but I actually prefer it that way. I’ll have to try making this again with rye flour from the grocery store to see how it compares. For now, we’re enjoying our AOP-like bread with dairy-free margarine and raspberry jam for breakfast.

 

Grimentzard Rye Bread

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

1 kg rye flour from the mill
750 ml cold water
20 grams gfresh yeast
30 grams salt

1. Knead all the ingredients well for at least 15 minutes. Let the dough rise in a large bowl somewhere cool for 12 hours.

2. When the dough has doubled in volume, make it into a ball and roll it in flour. Let the dough rise and settle so the surface becomes cracked.

3. Bake for about an hour at 240°C/475°F. Wait until it cools completely to eat it. Store the bread in a paper bag.

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I’m always looking for traditional Swiss recipes I can make at home, especially those sans dairy, eggs and nuts. If you have any to share, please leave a comment below or email me at dairyfreeswitzerland@gmail.com. Thanks, and bon week-end!