My last day off was in February. I am told that yesterday’s conference was a big success, but it’s a bit hard to hear through the haze of exhaustion. I slept 9 1/2 hours last night and woke up achy and somewhat remorseful for last night’s lackluster takeout nachos.
There’s a steady rain thrumming against the window air conditioning unit, making me thankful to be holed up in my apartment in my favorite sweatpants, The Smiths on the stereo and a neglected cat by my side. Lunch was clearly going to have to be assembled from ingredients I had on hand.
Kale & Smoked Salmon Nicoise Salad
- Hard boil an egg according to your preferred method–or mine. (While you’re at it, why not boil a few more for mid-week breakfasts?)
- Boil a handful of small potatoes in salted water until a butter knife slides in easily.
- Rinse and dry a few of handfuls of kale.
- Whisk the juice of half a lemon with a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, a healthy pinch of salt, a small pinch of sugar and plenty of black pepper. Gradually whisk in a couple of tablespoons of good quality olive oil. Mince a shallot and add this as well.
- Toss the kale with your dressing and let stand while your egg and potatoes cool. (If you don’t have a nasty cut on your forefinger from god-only-knows-what, you might consider using your hands to really massage the dressing into the kale. I opted to use the back of a spoon to get the job done.)
- Top the kale with halved potatoes, quartered eggs, an ounce or two of smoked salmon and those olives that have been lurking in the fridge since your blizzard dinner party.
You (and your gallbladder) haven’t really lived until you’ve found yourself seated across from the ever-so-sweet and astoundingly skilled Billy Durne of Hometown Bar-B-Que as he hand picks the choicest slices of brisket for you. If you have any hope of recovering before next week’s Brisket King 2016, consider a simple salad of red onion quick pickled in lemon juice, olive oil and salt and tossed with Evolutionary Organics‘ pea shoots and Cato Corner Farm‘s incomparable Dairyere.
Having worked ten hours on your feet on a Sunday, you may feel deserving of greasy takeout. But, fearing they might go to waste, you lugged an entire flat of sunflower shoots from Taqwa Community Farm home from today’s fundraiser. Harvest, rinse and dry as many as you think you can consume in a single sitting. Add some lemon juice, good quality olive oil, salt, pepper, a couple of sliced pears and some shaved parmigiano reggiano and you’ve got a lovely supper best enjoyed straight out of the bowl in your sweatpants, cat curled up next to you on the couch and Serge Gainsbourg crooning over the hi-fi.
I spent this past weekend down in Baltimore, where the heat index was in the triple digits. Baltimoreans are a hardy lot. And so I joined them in a series of outdoor concerts, cookouts and stoopside dance parties. At some point I gave up on apologizing as another kiss landed on my glistening cheek. Best to focus my energies on hydration.
Adequate sleep was not among the activities I managed to cram into my weekend. I dozed fitfully–my sweaty, sun-baked body lolling into the aisle as the Bolt But hurtled up I-95–and arrived home just in time to down some takeout before collapsing into bed.
The temperature dropped a bit today, but my body has yet to catch up. What is ordinarily a 10-minute walk to pick up my CSA share took me nearly double. By the time I got home, bags laden with green vegetables, I had lost all ambition to cook. Luckily, Farmer Fred excels when it comes to lettuce and I still had the beets from last week’s share. The salad below came together in less time that it took to eat it.
Raw Beet Salad with Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup whole milk yogurt
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- black pepper
- 1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
- 1/4 preserved lemon
- 3 medium beets
- 2 tablespoons walnut pieces
- 1 small head green leaf lettuce
- 3 scallions
- 1/2 bunch cilantro
- Whisk the first four ingredient together in a medium bowl and then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Finely chop the preserved lemon and add to the dressing.
- Using a mandoline, slice beets to 3/16″ thick. (If you don’t have a mandoline and your beets are small enough, a vegetable peeler will also do the trick.) Toss the beets with your dressing and let sit.
- Toast the walnut pieces, stirring frequently, in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
- Rinse and dry the lettuce. Thinly slice the scallions. Mince the cilantro. Toss everything together in a salad bowl and grab yourself a fork.
Rinse and dry the arugula you picked up in tonight’s CSA share. Toast some walnuts in a cast iron skillet. Thinly slice a radish or two. Shave and then crumble some Ricotta Salata. Whisk up a garlic scape vinaigrette. This is dinner without breaking a sweat, even when it’s 88 degrees and you’re too stubborn to turn on the AC.
Toss lacinato kale with pear, clothbound cheddar, scallion, olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and dinner’s ready in less time than it takes to decide what to order–leaving you with the whole evening to contemplate the pain of this week over unremarkable whiskey and a movie you’re barely watching.
The secret to this simple salad of watermelon, pea shoots, fresh basil, feta and scallions in a honey vinaigrette is a few liberal shakes of Tabasco. Well, that and a nice Sancerre.
For a simple supper at the end of a superb summer Sunday, macerate fresh chopped tomatoes and basil in a garlicky red wine vinaigrette. Toss with red leaf lettuce and croutons made from the remainder of Friday’s baguette. (If you happen to have a little Serrano ham left, so much the better.) Pair your salad with a wine spritzer using that Riesling that somehow escaped consumption mixed with a little seltzer.
When life gives you twelve-hour workdays and Farmer Ted gives you the first tomatoes of the season, whip up this quick salad with pan-toasted croutons, ricotta cheese, scallions, fresh basil, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and good quality olive oil.
My nephew Wally is mad cute.
He is also a vector for disease. I have been rocking the same glazed eyes and runny nose for the past week (though I fear they’re not quite as cute on me). By Friday my cough had reached a new level of intensity, rendering sleep a challenge. In the wee hours of Saturday morning, desperate to feel that something other than my cough was “productive,” I set some black-eyed peas to soaking.
I had big plans for Saturday, but a pounding headache and sheer exhaustion compelled me to stick close to home. Luckily, I had those black-eyes peas, a fridge full of vegetables, and friends who were game to scrap our night out in favor of supper on my roof.
I’ve been trying to spend more time on the roof. While the air in my apartment is thick and stagnant in these dog days of summer, it’s always breezy and at least ten degrees cooler up on the roof. A glass of wine and a little al fresco dining as the sun sets will cure just about anything (except maybe this cold). I like to treat my rooftop suppers as picnics, preparing simple, fresh food that’s easily transportable and meant to be eaten at room temperature.
Swiss Chard & Black-Eyed Pea Salad
- 3/4 pound (1.5 cups) dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and drained
- 1 large onion
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme (or a few sprigs if you’ve got fresh)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon smoked salt
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, divided
- 3 bunches swiss chard, turnip greens and/or other leafy greens, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons finely minced fresh dill
- salt and pepper
- Add beans, onion, bay leaf, red pepper, thyme and olive oil to a large pot. Cover with water by one inch, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until just tender, 30-45 minutes, adding water if needed.
- Remove onion and bay leaf. Stir in smoked salt, half of the vinegar and a healthy dose of black pepper. Add the greens in batches, starting with the stems, which will take a little longer to cook. Let simmer until greens are tender but still toothsome, 15-20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the rest of the vinegar, dill and salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. Serve cold or at room temperature.
I served this salad alongside whole wheat sourdough toasted in coconut oil and a variation on last summer’s Garden Pea and Spring Onion Puree. A couple bottles of rose rounded out the meal.
Neighbors trickled up to the roof as the sun set. Dishes were carried downstairs and replaced with chocolate and more wine. Just after dark, the supermoon rose above the chimney of an adjacent building.