Category Archives: lunch

ONE MOORE TIME

Ratatouille, day 2 — even better than ratatouille, day 1. (Full recipe here). Too bad there is no more ratatouille to see if it gets even better on day 3.

On a different note — I wrote a piece for Maisonneuve Magazine describing my favorite R. Stevie Moore video moments. I find his videos hysterical and it was a lot of fun to sift through all of his (bizarre) work. The piece was written in conjunction with an event I’m featured in on Friday, as part of POP Montreal’s Symposium series. I’ll be interviewing R. Stevie Moore at 3:30pm at the POP Headquarters — please come check it out! (Oh and finally, my friend Sean wrote a handy guide to POP Montreal for the overwhelmed. It’s enormously helpful. Check it.)

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SALAD DAZE

I think I have a new favorite salad. It’s true love. Sadly, our relationship can’t last forever.

Isn’t she a beauty? Alas, our relationship is temporary because the ingredients are 90% seasonal. Our tomatoes are practically gone, and this is the last week for corn. Don’t even get me started about fresh cannellini beans and those tender green beans. Sigh.

Some mornings I wake up with wicked cravings. Recently, it was Salade Niçoise.

After a quick run to the market, I had absolutely every fresh ingredient I needed. The freshly shelled cannellini beans were the crowning jewel.

So pretty. I could hardly bear to throw away the bean’s papery, creamy husks.

The wannabe-stylist in me loved assembling this gargantuan salad. I thought about organizing all of the colors in a rainbow sequence, but then thought better of it. I was missing the color blue, anyway.

Adam surprised me with a few treats of his own, too, including this platter of ripe figs. I’ve learned so much about proper fruit from him — like a fig that isn’t jammy, oozy, sticky, and basically sugary mush isn’t worth eating. I’ve learned to steer clear of all of those firm, tasteless, expensive figs. Goodbye.

He had another surprise, too — wild Quebec blackberries, smaller than my pinkie fingernail, and so sweet and tender. I haven’t had this much fun eating blackberries since I lived in Portland and ate them everyday.

The finest kind of salad, in my opinion, is just thoughtful assembly. I once had a mindblowing Salade Niçoise in a small bistro in Paris, but honestly when you have ingredients this splendid and this fresh, nothing else will ever compare. Nothing else will ever come close. Ingredients to consider in varying degrees of proportion when putting together your own Salade Niçoise:

Sliced avocado (that would be my California upbringing rearing its head, saying, “put avocado in every salad you make, ever”)
Sliced tomatoes
Fresh, raw corn
Summery green beans, blanched briefly
Diced red onion, carrots, and celery
A fistful of freshly shelled cannellini beans, boiled until tender
Soft-boiled eggs (note: I hate hard-boiled eggs, but that would be the more traditional option)
New potatoes, boiled for 20 minutes, then cut into discs
Halved olives (we used Kalamata)
Can tuna packed in oil
Some kind of tender lettuce (I spotted some handsome heads of Boston lettuce at Birri recently)
Parsley to garnish; lemon vinaigrette to dress.

I’m really trying to enjoy my salad days while I can. And honestly, this was one of the best lunches I’ve had in along time.

“..My salad days, / When I was green in judgment, cold in blood…”

MIDDAY FUEL

With a willing partner in the kitchen to help rinse and chop, this intensely flavorful lunch comes together in less than 30 minutes. Put a pot of salted water on to boil, and add a bit of olive oil to a cast iron skillet. Fry a few strips of prosciutto in the skillet until crispy, then remove, cool, and break into large chips. Don’t clean the skillet! With a mandoline, I grated a zucchini into tiny matchsticks, and then added to the hot, smoking skillet (okay, I added some butter to the skillet, too). Saute until nearly translucent, then add several cloves of chopped garlic and a few generous pinches of red chili flakes.

Add halved new potatoes to boiling water, wait 10 minutes, then add pasta, wait six minutes, then add washed and trimmed green beans. Using a ladle, spoon some of the starchy pasta-potato water into the skillet, and stir. Add the juice of half a lemon, plenty of salt, freshly grated black pepper, and more chili flakes to taste. Let the starchy water + lemon thicken into a nice sauce, and reserve more pasta water if it looks a little dry. Drain potatoes, pasta, and green beans all at once, and add to the skillet. Serve immediately, and top with grated pecorino and prosciutto chips.

The tomato salad was even easier: simply halve a bunch of cherry tomatoes, dice up a cucumber, mince some onion, and toss all together. We added some high quality olive oil, fresh oregano, dried oregano, and minced scallions. The perfect lunch.

[And Montreal friends, don’t forget! A fun concert tonight.]

COMPLETELY FULL

I haven’t cooked at all since I’ve been in Ithaca — I’m truly being spoiled, and enjoying the break from the kitchen. Lucky me, beautiful Kathryn made me lunch to eat in her backyard yesterday. Azuki beans, kale and steamed tofu fried rice. Healthy, nourishing, and full of promise.

CLEAN AND CALM

Best style of summer eating: Head to market, buy a lot of whatever looks incredible (occasionally a dangerous tactic), bike home, teetering dangerously with the weight of new goods, and happily mix everything up with the most minimal of actual cooking or heat.

This tomato water-infused chopped vegetable dish was Patricia Wells-inspired, and would really work with any vegetables at all. Because everything is cooked so briefly, the key is stupendous vegetables that you would be happy to eat raw, and a really fruity, high-quality olive oil. Baby swiss chard, green garlic, carrots, spring onions, tomato, celery leaves, and fresh green chickpeas all made it into the pan, lit by the warm punch of good olive oil. It tasted like pure sunshine.

A final note about the asparagus: I find that fresh spears have a wonderfully pronounced nuttiness from a quick high-heat oven roast, but the more delicate and tender white varieties — like the ones shown above — feel more appropriate in a quick and virginal steam, and finished with a dusting of salt.

And one more thing: I typically like a little something “more” in my meals — maybe a heel of bread, a fried egg, some chopped sardines, or a crumble of bacon — but the vegetables had so much body and life, it didn’t need anything else. If only I ate this healthfully the rest of the year!

PASTA LUNCH

When Adam was in Italy, he frequently ate a pasta dish that he fell in love with: tiny, tender pillows of ricotta gnocchi the size of chiclets or your pinkie fingernail, dyed a verdant green hue from the stinging nettles that were gently worked into the dough. We tried to recreate the dish when he got home, using nettles and ricotta from the market, and adding diminutive cubes of boiled potatoes and white asparagus into the final plating. We weren’t happy with the shade of green — we didn’t want the pasta to be flecked so much as doused in the color green — and any advice on making vividly colored pasta would be super welcome. But man, was it tasty.

MORE EQUATIONS

Scallops + coral + parsley oil + garlic // heaven

Farfalle + brown lentils + minced carrot, red onion, garlic, parsley, bell pepper + lemon + splash of pasta water // (Big) 20 minute lunch

Beef tenderloin + peppers + onions + avocado + refried beans + lime over all + crackling pita // 20 minute TV dinner (hockey of course)

Beef stock + tomato paste + lentils + chipotles in adobo + potatoes + zucchini + cilantro // A very spicy, smoky soup

Fregola + fresh favas + mint + anchovy + capers (they are the same size exactly as fregola! Such a satisfying mouthfeel) + hot peppers + crispy artichokes + scallions // Sticky, chewy pasta (the best ever)

Cubed potatoes + shallot + lard + rosemary + smoked paprika // A quick snack that turned into lunch. (I always fry parboiled potatoes in a cast-iron skillet; the  crust is unbeatable, and the bits of shallot get super-crispy and charred).