Category Archives: vegetables

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…”

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Heidi’s Grilled Fava Beans

I was already sold with Heidi’s original recipe and photos, but it was Ashley’s images that really put me over the edge. As soon as I saw her recap, I couldn’t get it out of my mind — grilled fava beans! How was that even possible? Did you have to shell them after they were cooked? Would they get limp and soggy? Was it really worth the effort? But we set out to Jean-Talon Marche, where Joe, our favorite dude at Birri, informed us that their most recent batch of favas were young and tender enough that the pods within could be eaten whole — no shelling required — and raw. I was sold. We went home that night and grilled a fistful of favas in a light marinade of lemon juice, grapeseed oil, and plentyof flaky sea salt. It was like a heartier version of the traditional edamame — just terrific, and a unique addition to your barbecue repertoire.

Full recipe here.

VEGETABLE TOSS

At a recent dinner we hosted, my partner was in charge of making the pasta (linguine with stinging nettle pesto), while I was in charge of the salad. Our dinner duties divided, I was determined to blow his mind. (I’m extremely competitive). I love salads with mixed temperatures — this one had medallions of golden baby beets, tiny charred coins of zucchini, gently toasted walnuts, micro arugula, dried apricots, roasted broccoli rabe, wild dandelion, and perfumed nasturtiums (from here) — and every bite was a heady mix of hot and cool. What’s more satisfying than watching people go back for thirds?

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.

VEGETABLE CHAT

Has anyone seen the documentary Forks Over Knives yet? Terrible movie title aside, I thought the film was good-intentioned but mostly bogus Whole Foods-related propaganda. I recently reviewed it for the film section of the Montreal Mirror — have a read if you like and let me know what you think.

19TH CENTURY VEGETABLE GARDEN

‘The Vegetable Garden,’ 1850-1895. Scanned from a Taschen magazine, images all courtesy of the seriously amazing blog, Old Paint.