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.