Tag Archives: lunch

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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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.

Jerk Chicken: It’s Not Just Heat

[All photos by Allen McInnis, courtesy of the Gazette] After alluding to it here, and after countless hours tinkering around in my kitchen and on my grill, I’m so stoked to finally share my story (and recipe!) on jerk chicken. I really wanted my jerk recipe to seem super approachable for the home chef, and it’s really as simple as spinning a marinade around in a blender, and exercising some patience while the meat barbecues super slowly and gently. The results are almost as good as anything I had in Jamaica, and I was thrilled with how it came out. I plan on making it all summer long!

Read the full story in today’s Montreal Gazette!

Also, wondering about my rad apron? It was designed by my dear friend Meredith Towsand. I love mine and wear it all the time.

And finally, thanks to Cheryl (whose blog I adore) for the wonderful mention in Simple Lovely Blog! What greater pleasure is there in the world than to inspire each other?

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.

WORKING LADY

These days, I rarely eat at my desk while I’m working because it’s often an impenetrable mess, covered with magazines and half-finished poster designs and four-day old coffee cups and little scraps of paper and crumb traces of ancient snacks past. Even though I secretly love clutter, I know it really grosses my partner out, so occasionally I force myself to clear away a space long enough to eat a plate of food and move on with my day.

[A note on the couscous: I am ashamed of this couscous, so much so that I was a little afraid to post these photos. Have you ever had a dish that you were so good at making that you bragged about it to everyone you knew, only to one day inexplicably lose your mojo and discover you can no longer make it, not even a little bit? Before I moved in with my partner, I boasted endlessly about how I made the perfect, fluffiest couscous you could imagine. Then one day, I couldn’t make it anymore. Even in my strongest attempts to get my groove back, my couscous rebels against me and ends up dry, pebbly, and deeply embarrassing. The perfectionist in me is deeply mortified by stuff like this. Has this happened to anyone else?!]

EASTER REMAINS

Easter Sunday leftovers. Still amazing.