Herb Crème Fraiche With Grilled Vegetables
If ever I were to become addicted to a food, this might be it. Crème fraiche is the crack of the dairy case.
I wrote about crème fraiche several weeks ago after stumbling upon this “how to” from Dash and Bella singing its culinary praises. I’ve made several batches since then, ultimately doling it out to friends lest I O.D. on all its creamy lusciousness.
Crème fraiche is so easy to make, you ought to give it a try. Pour two cups of heavy cream and one cup of buttermilk into a big jar, put on the lid and give it a hearty shake. Leave the lid open a little and set it in a warm spot in the kitchen for two to three days, shaking it a couple times a day. The liquid will thicken and the cultures of the buttermilk will invade the cream, resulting in a velvety, rich, tangy wonder. You can also do this in a bowl covered loosely with plastic wrap, stirring the cream with a spoon instead of shaking a jar.
Like it’s uncultured cousin, butter, a little goes a long way with crème fraiche. Sweeten it lightly with honey or brown sugar and add just a spoonful to berries for a lovely little dessert. Or give it a savory turn by adding fresh chives, basil, and mint, along with a pinch of salt. Voila, herb crème fraiche.
and underneath summer’s first heirloom tomatoes
and, of course, slathered onto crispy flatbread along with smoked salmon and sliced cucumbers
I loved it best, though, served with a platter of grilled vegetables as a main course. When dinner was sizzling on the barbecue, Mr. Mom’s Kitchen and the kids wondered aloud where the rest of their dinner had gone. Was there no garlic-marinated lamb chops or pepper-crusted ribeye to go along with the veggies?
But once the table was laden with all the gorgeous vegetables, a basket of grilled bread, and a green salad, everyone tucked in without a word, polishing off every tender grilled potato and sweet, charred onion, leaving not a trace of the herb crème fraiche behind.
Herb Crème Fraiche with Grilled Vegetables
- Heaping 1/2 cup crème fraiche
- 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling the vegetables
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for grilling the vegetables
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Favorite vegetables for grilling, such as bell peppers, onions, eggplant, and zucchini (see Notes for how to cut and prep)
Cut the vegetables for grilling. Figure 1/3-inch thick slabs of zucchini, eggplant, potato, and onion. Cut bell peppers into quarters and remove seeds and stem. Lightly brush the vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Grill vegetables over a medium flame until just tender. Cooking time will vary depending on the vegetable. Transfer to a serving platter.
In a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraiche, chives, basil, mint, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and a few generous turns of the pepper grinder. Taste and add more salt and lemon juice, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Serve vegetables with crème fraiche.
Cut vegetables as follows, then coat lightly with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper before grilling:
Bell peppers -- cut in half, remove stem and seeds, cut each half into thirds
Zucchini -- slice lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick slabs
Eggplant -- Cut into 1/3-inch-thick rounds
Onion -- Peel and cut into 1/3-inch-thick rounds