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Seasons’ Eatings: Tartiflette Inspired New Potatoes, Spinach and Boursin

2012 July 12

By Stephanie Tickner

Canal in old Annecy

Annecy, France – I never would have imagined back in the winter when I picked my spots on the RecipeRelay calendar that I would have the amazing opportunity to do my summer edition from Annecy, France! The company my husband works for is based in Annecy, and they wanted him to work for a week at the France office. With the kids out of school it was the perfect opportunity for a trip. It also seemed like a great way to contribute to the international recipes from China, London and Italy that have appeared on the Relay recently.

Annecy is a beautiful city in the Rhône-Alpes region of France. We rented a tiny apartment in Le Vieil Annecy (the old part of town) in a building built in 1650! With high walls, cobblestone streets, cafes and shops, I felt I had gone back in time.

Before we traveled, I read up on the regional cuisine. I learned of a potato and cheese dish called Tartiflette, made using the creamy, soft locally produced Reblochon cheese. Unfortunately, I discovered that Reblochon is not a vegetarian option since it contains animal rennet, so I decided to use the inspiration of Tartiflette to create my dish. Also, since there was no oven in the apartment I would not be able to bake my Tartiflette, which is the traditional way to prepare it. On the bright side though, this was a great way for me to relay from Allison’s Sweet and Sour Eggplant Caponata with Breadcrumbs and her method of sautéing a variety of ingredients on the stove-top for her recipe.

CLICK HERE for the full post and recipe.

Shopping was easy since there is a farmers market in the old town twice a week, just down the hill from our apartment. The air was filled with the strong odors of fish, cheese, herbs, spices, meats and sausages. Using my limited French and lots of hand gestures we bought new potatoes, yellow onions, spring onions, shallots, garlic, fresh basil, spinach, and a beautiful baguette. We also chose green beans to serve on the side. One of the vendors sold a great variety of fragrant spices and herbs from open bowls. We were attracted to a spice and herb mix called “ommelette”. It smelled delicious, although we were not sure what was in it. Then we walked to the Intermarché supermarket a few blocks outside of the old town. I chose a garlic and herb boursin type cheese called Tartare for my vegetarian substitute, as well as some olive oil, salt and pepper.

Thinking later about the shopping, I realized that even though the farmers market was right outside my door, I wondered where all the vegetables and fruits had come from since many would not be in season this time of year. Were they grown in greenhouses? Were the seasons earlier than at home? Were they shipped in from someplace distant? I had not seen the word organic anywhere either. The vegetables looked beautiful and fresh and tasted delicious, but the truth is, I really knew nothing about their origins.

On the evening I cooked, it was very hot and stuffy in our 3rd floor apartment, but the dish came out really well with lots of onions and garlic, crispy browned potatoes, the freshness of the spinach and basil, and the comforting melted cheese. There are so many ways this recipe could be adapted for whatever vegetables, cheese and herbs you have on hand. It was the perfect way to enjoy a summer evening after a day of hiking in the mountains in such a beautiful part of France.

Tartiflette Inspired New Potatoes, Spinach and Boursin

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: 4-6 servings

(Please note there were no measuring spoons or cups in the apartment, so I estimated amounts that fit into the large frying pan there.)

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 spring onions, greens and bulbs, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 5-6 cups new potatoes, sliced thin
  • 4 cups packed baby spinach
  • 2 large bunches fresh basil (about a cup), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried herb and spice mix, such as bouquet garni
  • 1/2 cup garlic and herb Tartare or Boursin cheese, (or 16 ounces Reblochon, or substitutes such as Brie, Munster, or any soft, washed rind cow milk cheese, or any cheese with good melting qualities)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add yellow onion, spring onions, and shallot. Sauté, stirring frequently until onions become translucent and start to brown, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in garlic and sauté about 2 more minutes.
  3. Add potatoes, herb and spice mix, and salt and stir well. Continuing cooking until potatoes are softened and starting to brown, stirring often, about 15 minutes.
  4. Mix in spinach and basil and cook until wilted, about one minute,
  5. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in cheese until melted and well mixed.
  6. Serve with a side of fresh seasonal green veggies and a chunk of baguette.

Finished plate with green beans and baguette

Stephanie Tickner lives in rural southwest New Hampshire with her family and two dogs. She enjoys spending time with her family traveling, being outdoors, watercolor painting and cooking. Their two week trip to France was an experience of a lifetime and such a great way to start the summer!

  • Allison Biele

    I am absolutely going to try this recipe! Thank you!! 

    • http://stephanieticknerwatercolors.com/ Stephanie Tickner

       Thanks, Allison. I really love how it came out. A perfect comfort food for summer.

  • Sarah

    Every time I look at these photos I’m blown away by the story book beauty of Annecy! Thank you Stephanie for posting from your holiday – beautiful food in a beautiful place.