Jessica Sender’s microgreens, enriched by chef Aurélien Martin du Panier in Nice

Purple radishes, leeks, but also sage, dill, coriander… Jessica Sender grows microgreens in Montauroux. With certain success, because the “farmer” brings a thousand pots to life every week… Borage, peas, basil, shiso and other mini-aromatics, no shortage of plants.
Two years ago, she found this compromise between her love of the land and an agricultural activity. †My mother was a gardener, says the young quadra to explain her passion for the earth. Jessica left Indre et Loire to settle in the south of France to join her husband. †He worked on a boat, in Cannes, we never saw each other…” She therefore sold her farm – two hectares of aromatic herbs – and settled in the Var, near Montauroux. She didn’t have an agricultural degree: she goes back to vocational education to get a degree and tries to establish herself as a farmer. But the land pressure of the region makes him reconsider the dimension of his project…”A friend in Cannes suggested this compromise to me.” While waiting to find land to work, she started working on microgreens. Founded two years ago, his small business Gourmet Pousses quickly caught on. †I only have about twenty customers”, Jessica sums up humbly. But all those she delivers, good restaurants and stars in the region, “are part of my family in a sense…”

Why “microgreens”?

But by the way, what are microgreens? †No more or less than plants consumed at the beginning of their growth.” It may seem simple. However, it is constant surveillance.
Jessica processes her seedlings, then the plants in half liter containers. Organic or untreated seeds are purchased throughout Europe. †To give you an idea, last year I sowed the equivalent of a few hectares”, the young woman smiled. †We sow in very large quantitiescontinues Jessica. If they are vegetables – radishes, broccoli, leeks – they are harvested at the cotyledon stage, just after the germinated seed stage. These are very interesting because of their nutritional value. For aromatics, it takes several weeks, even several months, we wait for the leaf shape, taste, flavor, etc. We bring a real flavor and aesthetic interest to the plate.” Ten to fifty grams per tray. †It shouldn’t be too close either, otherwise they’ll have trouble breathing. And if it’s the other way around, it’s not pretty, it will make the leaves too big. There is a balance to be found…”adds the young woman who, after a few attempts, could rely on her knowledge gained in the nursery to find the right balance.

Gourmet Pousses, cultivation of micro vegetables. Franz Chavaroche.

edible flowers

The first year she grew the plants outside, under a shelter. †But with the heat, humidity, etc.; there were too many variations, there was a balance to change.”
She has since furnished her garage. †Temperature and density are regular.” She just added fans to stir the air more. †This prevents stagnant humidity, but also gives the plants some strength.”
“They are very sensitive babies”adds the one who especially likes her mini herb shoots…”We really have a palette of flavors and colors there. It’s very aesthetic…”
The demand is also there, to the extent that the young woman plans to increase her cultivation area (currently 25 m2). Still, Jessica knows how to make a living”and that’s the main thing”† Even though the farmer’s wife works at a loss in the winter, given the closure of many restaurants belonging to her customers. †But it also allows me to do research.”
And in parallel, Jessica develops a small production of edible flowers. Nasturtiums, purple carrot flowers, sage… which she plants in her garden in permaculture. †I do very little, but if you work with microgreens like I do, you have to go back to the ground…”

Gourmet Pousses, cultivation of micro vegetables. Franz Chavaroche.

Jessica Sender, Gourmet Sprouts. Price: 3 euros pp
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Chef Aurélien Martin sublimates Jessica Sender’s harvests at Le Panier in Nice

Jessica Sender is used to working with star charts… But not alone. Also with more intimate addresses with beautiful maps. Like Le Panier in the heart of old Nice. †I hesitatedemphasizes Jessica, I didn’t know if I could deliver them on time etc. And then I met them. I was immediately addicted to their vision of things…”
It must be said that the chef, Aurélien Martin, knows how to convince when it comes to sublimating his kitchen. It was with his parents, in the Queyras, that the young man learned the basics of cooking. He did his apprenticeship at the house Le Pasturier in Gap, and after his professional baccalaureate he chose to travel the world before returning to the cradle of his companion, Marie, originally from the Alpes-Maritimes.
He favors short circuits, defends the seasonal cuisine, changes his menu every month. †We try to be as modern as possible with flavors and taste”† When he started working in a gourmet kitchen, he first used microgreens from a major Dutch brand. †But I was not satisfied”, he said. For the young chef, the microgreens must be”very intense. Each sprout has a utility in the dish being prepared, even in the simplicity of the chervil. Then some microgreens are thinner than others.” While incarcerated, Aurélien discovered Jessica Sender’s work on social networks. Since then, he has been calling on her to improve his culinary creations throughout the year. Due to its production method,it is indeed the product that has the least seasonality of the products we use”.
Her favorite microgreen? borage. †A delicious iodized taste” who comes to the table of Le Panier to embellish the white asparagus, a vegetable of the moment. †I serve it with shellfish and the borage is reminiscent of the taste of the oyster.” We rush to the recipe.

For example, Jessica Sender’s microgreens are used by Aurélien Martin, chef at Le Panier in Nice. Franz Chavaroche.

His recipe: white asparagus with wild garlic

Ingredients for 4 people

-8 large white asparagus
– 400 g razors
– 400 g mussels
– 4 shallots
-1 liter of liquid cream
– 100 ml raspberry vinegar
– 500 ml white wine
– 1 kg wild garlic
– 1 spoon of squid paste
– 3 g agar agar
– salt and pepper
– borage sprouts, red mustard, radish and nasturtiums

Equipment: siphon, frying pan, blender.

– Peel the asparagus. Boil them in salted boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water.

– Blanch the wild garlic and immerse it in cold water. Drain and set aside.
Chop the shallots, sweat and deglaze with raspberry vinegar.
Add the liquid cream and season to taste, cook over low heat for 30 minutes.
When hot, mix the cream and wild garlic.
Pour through a sieve or sieve, let cool in the refrigerator. Fill the siphon.
Screw a gas cartridge into the siphon and tighten until you hear gas flowing into the siphon. Shake well.

– Cook the mussels and razor clams in white wine and peel them while they are still hot.
Pass the clam juice through a sieve and add the squid ink and agar.
Let cool in the fridge. Then mix until a gel is obtained.

– Place molds and knives in the bottom of a bowl, cover with wild garlic foam and finish with squid gel.
Arrange the asparagus on a plate. Finally, add the borage sprouts, red mustard, radishes and nasturtiums.

– Tasting advice: eat with your fingers, dip the asparagus in the foam…

white asparagus with wild garlic Franz Chavaroche.

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