Tags for: A Taste of Art: The Kitchen Garden (Salad) at La Brunié
  • Blog Post
  • Exhibitions

A Taste of Art: The Kitchen Garden (Salad) at La Brunié

April 8, 2021
The Kitchen Garden at La Brunié, 1941. Jacques Villon (French, 1875–1963). 1964.95

Typically, a featured exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art will be accompanied by a prix fixe menu in Provenance, the museum restaurant. Due to COVID safety measures, Provenance is temporarily closed.* However, Executive Chef Joe Perez has created a colorful dish inspired by an artwork on view in our current exhibition Stories from Storage.

Stories from Storage is a spellbinding exhibition featuring an anthology of 20 stories from our curators about 3,000 years of art. This unique exhibition reveals artwork kept in storage for various reasons: some are light sensitive, some have condition issues, some have contested attributions and others simply do not fit into the narratives or finite spaces of the galleries. It conveys not a single, linear narrative but multiple stories that complement one another.

After wandering through the exhibition, Chef Joe, Executive Chef of Provenance at the Cleveland Museum of Art was drawn to Nature Transformed by William Robinson, CMA’s senior curator of modern art. His story provides an overview of four styles of modern landscape painting: ideal, natural, imaginary and abstract. The paintings offer evidence of the richness and depth of the museum’s collection of academic, naturalistic and avant-garde art.

One artwork in particular, The Kitchen Garden at La Brunié, inspired Chef Joe. In this view of a distant kitchen garden, nature has been transformed into an intersecting network of abstract, geometric forms. Diagonal lines suggesting roads and fields in the foreground converge on the long, horizontal garden structure and tall trees in the distance. Transparent planes of prismatic color infuse the entire composition with dynamic energy. Artist Jacques Villon was member of the Puteaux or Section d’Or (Golden Section) Cubists, who based their compositions on principles of scientific color theory and mathematics.

Like Villon, Chef Joe applied the scientific and mathematic principles to create his take of an edible composition: The Kitchen Garden Salad.

It’s time to step into the kitchen with Chef Joe to see what’s cooking!

The Kitchen Garden at La Brunié, 1941. Jacques Villon (French, 1875–1963). Oil on canvas; 65 x 92 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund, 1964.95. © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.

One of my favorite dishes to serve in spring is a salad focused on the flavors of warmer months to come. The dish is minimally prepared, not overdone, and technically well executed to allow the fresh flavors to be the star.

The Kitchen Garden at La Brunié captured my attention, and the spark was ignited as I began to develop this fregola and beluga lentil salad with local root vegetables, olive oil poached striped bass, and anchovy aioli.

For this type of salad, I like to take a balanced approach that includes a grain, legume, or pasta foundation. This is complemented with bright and simple vegetables and a perfectly prepared protein. All of this is finished off with a flavorful, rich component — the aioli.

“The Kitchen Garden” Salad

This recipe will prepare 4 to 6 servings.

Let’s start cooking!

The Starchy Base

We’ll start with the starch foundation: I used fregola and beluga lentils. Fregola is a Sardinian pasta of semolina dough that is rolled into little fragments and kiln dried. Braised beluga black lentils create the other half of the base.

You will need ½ lb dry fregola.

Cook, following the package instructions for timing, in generously salted boiling water. It should resemble seawater. Leave the pasta quite al dente and do not rinse to cool. Strain and spread the pasta into a thin layer and refrigerate to cool.

For the braised beluga black lentils, you will need the following ingredients:

1 cup dry black small lentils

½ white onion, small diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp olive oil

3–4 cups good quality vegetable or chicken broth

2 tsp salt (added at end of cooking process)

Preheat a medium sauce pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onion and garlic and cook, stirring constantly until the onions start to become translucent. Rinse and strain the lentils, and then add to the sauce pot. Cover with the broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and loosely cover with a lid. Check frequently and cook until the lentils are barely tender. Add and stir in the salt, then strain before spreading the mixture thin and refrigerating to cool.

The Fresh Vegetables

The vegetables for this salad came from a great farm in Huron called The Chef’s Garden.

4 assorted baby carrots, halved and sliced ¼-inch thick

2 oca tuber, sliced thin

2 assorted radishes, sliced thin

4 spring onions, halved and sliced

4 Jerusalem artichokes, sliced thin

1 cup shucked fava beans

2 kohlrabi, peeled and julienned

1 cup snow peas

Once all the vegetables are cleaned and peeled, quickly blanch them for 20 seconds in salted boiling water to set the color and impart seasoning.

Pickled mushrooms add a pop of acidity and brightness to the salad.

1– 8 oz container cleaned, sliced mushrooms, I prefer shitake and oyster

⅓ cup white distilled vinegar

¾ cup water

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp salt

½ medium shallot, sliced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

6 strips lemon zest

2 tsp peppercorn medley

Place all ingredients except the mushrooms in a non-reactive sauce-pan and cook over moderate heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool at room temperature for 10 minutes. Place the mushrooms in a jar or bowl that will hold the full amount of liquid. Strain the pickling liquid into the mushroom container and refrigerate for an hour or up to three days.

The Protein: Fish

The fish chosen for this dish is a sustainably farm-raised striped bass. It has a delicate flavor and a nice flake and texture when poached. Cod or other similar flakey white fish can also be used.

2– 12 to 16 oz striped bass fillet, trimmed, deboned, and filleted from the skin and the blood line, or dark flesh, removed.

3 cups good-quality olive oil

8 thin slices lemon

6–8 thin slices fresh ginger

8 cloves garlic

2 tsp salt

2 tsp mixed peppercorns

1 small bunch fresh parsley

3–4 sprigs fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 300°F

Place the olive oil, peppercorns, parsley, and thyme in a sauce pan and heat over medium heat until it reaches around 180°F.

Place the cleaned and patted dry fillets in an oven safe casserole, such as an enameled dutch oven or comparable skillet with lid. The size of the vessel should be so the fish lays almost completely flat to cover the bottom surface so that the oil will fully cover the fish. Sprinkle the fish with the salt and randomly place the lemon, garlic, and ginger in the vessel. Carefully pour the heated oil over the fish, ensuring that it is covered; add more oil if needed. Cover and place in the oven. Oven poach for around 10 to 12 minutes or until the fish is easily flaked at the thickest part but still translucent (130°F). Remove from the oven, uncover, and allow to cool at room temperature.

The Anchovy Aioli

The last component is the anchovy aioli. This emulsification utilizes the cooled poaching oil from the fish to make the sauce.

8–10 good-quality anchovy fillets

4 pasteurized egg yolks.

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

½ tsp salt

Juice from 1 lemon

2 tsp strong Dijon mustard

8 cloves roasted garlic

1 tbsp water

1½ cup olive oil from poaching, cooled to room temperature

This sauce is easiest to make in a food processor or with an immersion blender.

Place all ingredients except the oil in the bowl of the food processor and blend until completely pureed and smooth. The consistency should be that of a thin batter; add more water if necessary to achieve this consistency. With the processor running drizzle a very small amount of the olive oil into the mixture, keeping the stream of oil very thin until an emulsification is formed. Keep slowly adding oil to the processor, ensuring that the mixture continues to look creamy and thick. If it starts to look glossy and oily, stop the oil and continue to blend to allow the mixture to catch up. Add all the oil and blend 10 seconds more. The consistency should be that of thick mayonnaise.

Finally, we can put it all together and compose the salad!

To build the salad, in a mixing bowl add the fregola and beluga lentils. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and squeeze half a lemon over the grains; toss and mix well. Spoon about ¾ to 1 cup of the grains onto the center of a serving plate or bowl. Thoughtfully arrange the assorted vegetables atop and around the fregola blend. Place 6 to 8 pieces of pickled mushroom around the plate, strategically arranging them so you may get one every bite or two. Remove the fish from the remaining oil, allow to drain, and pat with a disposable towel. Flake the fish into pieces and place the desired portion atop and around the vegetables. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of the aioli in 3 to 4 areas around the plate to make for easy dipping of your fork before each bite!

Enjoy! #WithlovefromCMA,

Chef Joe


Visit Stories from Storage to see The Kitchen Garden at La Brunié in person and stop by Provenance Café for a snack.

PLUS get FREE admission to the exhibition for Stories from Storage Community Days every Wednesday through May 12.

*Although the restaurant is closed, Provenance Café is open Tuesday through Sunday with grab-and-go snack options. Hot food selections are also available Friday through Sunday.