At Restaurant Relæ in Denmark, there’s a strong commitment to organic produce and an emphasis on vegetable-forward dishes. “About 70% of our menu is just featuring vegetables,” shares head chef Jonathan Tam. For him, the herbs bouquet snack is a play on Michel Bras’ famous vegetable garden dish, Gargouillou. “But when you eat it, it’s these crisp lettuces and different combinations of herbs, and the acidity from the lemon juice and vinegar cuts through. I feel it kind of has this Asian touch and freshness to it that is reminiscent of many Asian salads,” he adds.
The beauty of this dish is in its versatility and adaptability. Tam notes, “The lettuce leaves act as the backbone of the bouquet so it’s important that they are the right size and shape. The inverted teardrop shape we are looking for is normal of heart salads and romaine salads. The types of herbs we use can vary from day to day, depending on what is available. So you could use any types of herbs that are available to you.”
Serves 6 | Level: Easy | Total time: 1 hour
1 large stalk of celery, cut into 5mm-thick and 10cm-long sticks
- Blanch celery sticks in boiling salted water for 10 seconds then transfer into ice water to cool. Drain the celery sticks in a colander.
- 2 large stalks of celery
- 200g 3% salt brine
- Hold the celery stalk by the thickest part and using a vegetable peeler, starting from the end that you are holding, peel long, thin strips of the celery.
- Place the celery ribbons in a vacuum bag, in a single layer with 3% salt brine and vacuum seal it.
- Drain the celery ribbons in a colander.
- 100g raw, shelled pistachios
- 45g vegetable oil
- Puree pistachios and oil in a blender. Blend until smooth and the mixture reaches 90°C, approximately 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- 15g extra virgin olive oil
- 60g water
- 30g lemon juice
- 145g pistachio praline
- Fine-grain salt
- Whisk olive oil, water and lemon juice into the pistachio praline until emulsified. Season with salt.
- 6 leaves of heart lettuce or romaine lettuce, approximately 10-12cm in length
- 6 large green spinach leaves
- 6 large red spinach leaves
- 6 large sorrel leaves
- 6 oxalis with stems, leaves and flowers
- 6 purslane with stems and small buds
- 6 nasturtium with stems
- 6 red basil leaves
- 6 green basil leaves
- 6 lemon basil leaves
- 6 Thai basil leaves
- 6 lovage leaves
- 6 marigold leaves
- 6 pieces of bronze fennel top
- 6 watercress leaves with stems
- 6 pea shoots or pea leaves
- 1 bunch of elderflowers, or some marigold petals
To serve the Herbs Bouquet
- 15g pistachios, raw, shelled and roughly chopped
- Sea salt
- Pear vinegar
- On the inside of the lettuce leaf, paint a thick layer of pistachio puree then sprinkle with chopped up pistachios.
- Start building the bouquet with the largest leaves first, such as the spinach and sorrel leaves.
- Then put on the celery stick and the larger herbs with stems such as the oxalis, nasturtium, purslane, and pea shoots; follow with all the other smaller herbs.
- Use a celery ribbon to bind together all the herbs by tying everything up about 1.5cm from the bottom of the lettuce leaf.
- Rearrange the herbs so that each herb can be seen and the bouquet looks complete and full. Use scissors to trim the bottom of the bouquet, and sprinkle a few elderflowers or marigold leaves on top.
- Finish the bouquet with a sprinkle of sea salt and 8 sprays of pear vinegar.