Claude Monet was a gourmet!
He was truly a culinary artist. This Impressionist icon created a legacy of paintings, many of which were inspired by his floral gardens and kitchen garden! Aileen Bordman, author of Monet’s Palate Cookbook: The Artist & His Kitchen Garden at Giverny shares the story of how her mother, Helen Rappel Bordman, restored Monet’s magnificent floral gardens at Giverny along with a few other Americans. Aileen followed in her mother’s footsteps by restoring and replanting Monet’s kitchen garden with Master Gardener Derek Fell. This cookbook provides a culinary tour of Monet’s garden and home at Giverney along with garden-inspired recipes. Monet was intentional in what he painted and planted.
Monet’s kitchen garden actually spans 2 ½ acres dedicated to vegetables and herbs. According to Aileen, Monet loved to travel the world and collect vegetable seeds from locales where he enjoyed a specific dish. He was the first to bring and plant zucchini seeds from Provence to Normandy! Florimond was in charge of his kitchen garden, and Monet would carry seeds home in his pockets to be planted. Monet was meticulous in creating a garden palette for his palate. Each seed was planted with an artistic and culinary vision in mind. Monet understood the importance of farm to table and eating food that was connected to the land, community and culture.
Did you know that Monet would host dinner parties at his home with Renoir at the table and share a meal that featured produce from his gardens? I wish I could have been at that table to savor the meal and conversations. You can experience this history through the pages of Aileen’s cookbook along with her film Monet’s Palate narrated by Meryl Streep.
In honor of Monet’s love of zucchini, I prepared the following recipe. Savor the day with Claude Monet!
Zucchini “Pasta” with Sauteed Mushrooms and Brown Butter
Featured on page 133 of Monet’s Palate Cookbook:The Artist and His Kitchen Garden at Giverny
Recipe by Aileen Bordman
6 Side Dish or 4 Main Course Servings
3 medium-size zucchini
2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
½ cup (60g) chanterelle mushrooms, quartered
½ cup cremini mushrooms, quartered
¼ teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup (40g) quartered cherry tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup ( ½ stick ) (60g) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Using a vegetable peeler, peel entire length of each zucchini to create strips. Continue peeling down to seed core; discard seed core. Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and stire 1 minute. Add zucchini, mushrooms, oregano and pepper flakes and sauté 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Keep mixture warm over very low heat.
Melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat and swirl until butter is light brown and has nutty aroma. Pour over zucchini mixture. Transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle with cheese, parsley and basil. Serve immediately.