Cold Mixed Vegetable Hors D’oeuvre

Legumes à l’Orientale

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Servings:


Appears in

Simple French Food

By Richard Olney

Published 1974

  • About

If the raisins seem bizarre to you, leave them out; if you have no taste for coriander, leave it out; the dish will lose its Oriental distinction but will not, otherwise, be the worse for the omissions. If the presence of crunchy, hot peppercorns is distressing, leave them out . . .

At the height of summer, replace the preserved tomatoes by fresh, firm, ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely cut up or chopped; replace the fennel by quartered celery hearts and the parsley by fresh basil leaves and flowers.

Slices of sweet pepper may be added, as may any of those vegetables normally prepared à la Grecque—small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 2-inch lengths; cauliflower flowerets; asparagus tips; chard ribs . . .


  • 1 large sweet onion (4 to 5 ounces), chopped
  • 1 cup olive oil (in all)
  • 2 cups preserved tomatoes, juice drained off
  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed, peeled, finely sliced
  • Salt
  • 1 healthy pinch cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 mounded teaspoon finely crumbled mixed herbs (thyme, savory, oregano)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 tender artichokes (2 pounds), pared, quartered, chokes removed, immersed immediately in remaining ¾ cup olive oil
  • 1 ounce dried currants (or other seedless raisins), soaked 1 hour in tepid water, drained
  • 8 ounces small garnish onions (25 or 30), peeled
  • 8 ounces whites of leeks, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 pound hearts of fennel bulbs, trimmed, quartered
  • 10 ounces firm, unopened mushrooms (whole, halved, or quartered, depending on size)
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 large pinch coriander seeds (about 30)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • About 20 peppercorns
  • Chopped parsley


Cook the chopped onion with ¼ cup olive oil in a large, heavy copper saucepan or earthenware poëlon for from 20 to 30 minutes without permitting to color, add the tomatoes and the garlic, stew gently for about 10 minutes, stirring, until nearly all liquid has evaporated, salt lightly, add the cayenne, the sugar, the herbs, and the artichoke quarters with their olive oil. Stir well together, add the raisins or currants and, a handful at a time, the remaining vegetables, stirring so that all are evenly coated with the tomato mixture. Add the wine, the coriander, and the lemon juice, bring to a full boil over a high flame, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for about 40 minutes (the acidity of the cooking liquids prevents the vegetables from softening—they will remain firm and even slightly crunchy despite the length of cooking time).

Remove the vegetables with a large wire skimming spoon to a non-metallic serving utensil, add the peppercorns to the cooking juices, and reduce at a high heat for 5 or 10 minutes, stirring all the while. About cups—or slightly more—should remain, just enough to barely cover the gently packed vegetables. Taste for salt (the vegetables will be somewhat undersalted if correctly done and the sauce should be relatively salty—without exaggeration). Leave, uncovered, to cool and then refrigerate, covered. Serve either chilled or at room temperature, generously sprinkled with parsley.