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Vegetables: Less Can Be More

October 06, 1985|ROSE DOSTI

So precise and pristine, so light and airy are these morsels of stuffed vegetables at right, you think you are dining on a cloud. Executive chef Joachim Splichal, above, of Max au Triangle in Beverly Hills, who creates works of art in cooking, used zucchini flowers (blossoms of baby zucchini), cherry tomatoes and baby corn squash. So-called "baby" vegetables, defined as those harvested very young, are now available at specialty food markets. Expensive, yes, but the impact on taste and the eye is the reward. However, if the exotic vegetables are unavailable, you can use regular vegetable counterparts and increase the ratatouille filling by doubling or tripling the recipe on Page 124.

PRODUCED BY ROBIN TUCKER.

TABLEWARE FROM GUMP'S, BEVERLY HILLS JOACHIM SPLICHAL'S STUFFED VEGETABLES 4 zucchini flowers 4 cherry tomatoes 4 corn squash Shrimp Ratatouille Yellow Tomato Sauce Raw Tomato Sauce Chopped fresh basil leaves, optional

Blanch zucchini flowers, cherry tomatoes and corn squash by cooking in rapidly boiling salted water 1 minute. Remove with slotted spoon. Drain. When cool, peel tomatoes and corn squash.

Stuff zucchini flowers, cherry tomatoes and corn squash with Shrimp Ratatouille. Place stuffed vegetables in a greased baking pan and bake at 350 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes. Spoon Yellow Tomato Sauce on one side of plate and Raw Tomato Sauce on other side of plate. Sprinkle chopped fresh basil down center, if desired. Arrange vegetables over sauce. Makes 4 servings. Shrimp Ratatouille Japanese eggplant, finely diced tomato, finely diced zucchini, finely diced 1 shallot, minced 1 small clove garlic, minced red pepper, finely diced Olive oil 2 basil leaves, cut into fine julienne pieces 10 Santa Barbara shrimp, diced Salt

Saute eggplant, tomato, zucchini, shallot, garlic and red pepper in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add basil. Remove vegetable mixture from pan and add up to 1 tablespoon oil, if necessary, to cook shrimp. Heat oil and add shrimp. Saute until shrimp turn red. Do not overcook. Add to ratatouille mixture. Season to taste with salt. Makes about 2 cups. Yellow Tomato Sauce 4 ripe yellow tomatoes 6 tablespoons olive oil 8 to 10 basil leaves, cut julienne Salt

Plunge tomatoes in boiling water and boil 1 minute. Drain. Peel and seed. Place in blender container and puree. Drain excess liquid. Mix puree with olive oil. Add basil leaves. Season to taste with salt. Makes 1 cup sauce. Note: Yellow tomatoes are found at some specialty food stores. Raw Tomato Sauce 2 ripe tomatoes Boiling water 3 tablespoons olive oil 5 basil leaves, cut julienne Salt

Plunge tomatoes in boiling water and boil 1 minute. Drain. Peel and seed. Place in blender container and puree. Drain excess liquid. Mix puree with olive oil. Add basil leaves. Season to taste with salt. Makes about 1/2 cup sauce. About the Chef: Anyone who has had a meal prepared by Joachim Splichal will not likely forget it. It will have, without question, the signature of the artist. Bold, proud and individual.

The individuality of Splichal's cooking is perhaps best characterized as precise. Not a hair out of place. Everything in perfect balance, which does not mean there is not an off day or evening once in a while. No artist is perfect. But those off days are rare for Splichal. Young--in his early 30s--the German-born Splichal trained at many of France's famous eateries, including La Bonne Auberge, a three-star restaurant in Antibes, and the famed Negresco Hotel in Nice, where he assisted the brilliant master chef, Jacques Maximin.

He found himself an instant celebrity when he took over as executive chef at the Seventh Street Bistro in Los Angeles in 1983. Before then he was more or less under wraps at the Regency Club, an exclusive but private club in West Los Angeles. At the Seventh Street Bistro, Splichal was able to show his stuff. And what stuff it was! Dazzling sweetbreads in strudel, chanterelles rolled in cabbage leaves, Napoleons of exotic vegetables. Then a sudden and surprising shift occurred. He was found doing the honors at the brand-new Max Au Triangle in Beverly Hills, where today he presides as executive chef. The craftsmanship and artistry of the food are unique. And his stamp, indelible.

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