Truffles are little morsels of pure, unadulterated love.
Their flavors are intense, with a pungent scent that’s like nothing that’s ever been described. To me, they smell like a handful of earthy, dense mushrooms that have been infused with the essence of musk. They’re also expensive. The knuckle-sized lump pictured here — no bigger than an American quarter coin — sold for slightly over $25 at around $2.95 a gram.
If you have some on hand, they go marvelously well when paired with egg dishes such as scrambled eggs or plain French omelettes. A plate of uovo e tartufo nero is edible poetry. Imagine luscious clouds of soft-boiled, poached or fried egg paired with a slice of fresh baked bread, garnished with shavings of black truffle and a whisper of olive oil. It needs just the slightest touch of salt and pepper. It’s what you need now.
That’s the thing about truffles. You don’t need to do much to them to bring out their best.
Winter Vegetable Jardinière, with Black Truffles
Think of this as a vegetarian version of pot-au-feu, one that is so delicious that you’ll never miss the meat. The vegetables were sautéed in butter and olive oil in a specific order, then braised in water and their own juices, along with herbs, salt and pepper. Omitting the butter will make this vegan.
1/2 head escarole, trimmed and leaves separated
1 bunch green chard, leaves trimmed of its stems (reserve the stems for another use)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil + more for garnish
1 yellow onion, peeled, trimmed and coarsely diced
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 lb. heirloom potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick sticks
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick sticks
freshly milled black pepper
shaved black truffle (optional)
Have a bowl of ice water ready.
Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the escarole leaves and chard leaves. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the greens are tender. Drain, then immerse the greens in the bowl of ice water for 1 minute. Drain again, then squeeze all the water out of the greens with your hands. Transfer the greens to a cutting board, then chop the greens coarsely. Set aside.
Melt butter in a Dutch oven or similar-sized heavy pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Add the onion, turn up the heat to medium-high and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the bay leaf, parsley, potatoes, carrots, and parsnips and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup cold water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 12-15 minutes, partly covered, or until the potatoes are tender and easily pierced with a fork.
Uncover the pot and stir in the reserved greens. Taste for salt. If the pot seems a little dry, add a splash or two of water. Replace the lid and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the greens are warmed through.
Spoon vegetables and pot juices onto warmed serving bowls or plates. Drizzle with a little olive oil over each serving, and top with shavings of black truffle, if desired. Serve at once.
This recipe is sized for 2 appetizer or side-dish servings.
Time: 1 hour, including prep time.