Tag Archives: salads

Green Dreams.

On Friday night, I ate so much barbecue I thought I felt my arteries hardening. Seriously. (Wild-boar rib chop, though—totally worth it.) Yesterday,  I had a brisket sandwich for lunch and Shake Shack for dinner. Today, all I can think of is vegetables.

My mouth is currently watering over the memory of this smoked-trout salad from Boerum Hill’s Rucola, in which bitter frisee and radicchio, coins of soft, creamy potato, and pungent flakes of Shelsky’s fish are roped together with a horseradish dressing and punctuated with crunchy, tangy pickled onions. Yes, please.

Rucola
190 Dean Street
Brooklyn, New York
718.576.3209

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Brown-Bag Blessing.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have gotten the wrong impression. Sure, I’ve done the odd bit of grilling here and there, but with the exception of this salad awhile back, I have been eating horribly unseasonably for most of the summer. I have been to the farmers’ market zero times, I do not have a CSA membership, and my status at the co-op falls somewhere between “not allowed to shop” and “utterly disgraced.”

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After an especially brutal weekend—one filled with ghetto Chinese, pizza, and food poisoning from said pizza—I was perhaps particularly susceptible to the charms of a light, clean dish of unquestionable provenance, but I was still surprised when a friend’s tweet provoked an instantaneous craving for something simple, fresh, and homemade. Clearly, my body was trying to tell me that one cannot live on takeout, Sour Patch Kids and Nutty Bars alone.

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Smitten Solution.

I think you all know me well enough by now to agree that I’m not normally one for quick, decisive action, but these days, I seem to be categorically unable to carry out my preferred method of menu-planning; instead of sifting through back issues of Gourmet and long-neglected cookbooks to come up with a way-too-ambitious grocery list, I find myself flipping through my Evernote recipe collection, discouraged by all the clippings that require days of advanced planning and extensive legwork. I just don’t feel like doing any of it.

Completely uncreatively, I blame the heat. I want to make things that require as little work as possible—with one hand, preferably, so the other is free to reach for that icy-cold glass of lambrusco—so I was in the perfect frame of mind to receive yesterday’s Smitten Kitchen email. Chopped salad with feta, lime and mint. Just reading the name cooled me off a few degrees.

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Of God and Salads.

My interest in food that originates from the ground (and not, let’s say, the teet or the slaughterhouse) is relatively new. I remember interviewing a coworker about her favorite types of food and typing, with disgust, that she loves Spring and Summer because of the wares from her garden. She was team veggie. I was team butter-rosemary-garlic-chicken-pork. Especially pork.

Two things changed. First, this damn locavore movement. I’d made some recent life decisions that propelled me from everything I’d known for three years. (I left a church.) Somehow I knew that my next step in life would involve community and food. I whimpered a few blocks over to my friend Susan (a master of both) who thrust that Pollan book into my hands. I’d be studying a new gospel.

Second, a prescription. Over the years, my experimentation with fresh produce brought me to an understanding with the Lord that heartburn and itchy lips were a sign from above that I should not veer from my butter-rosemary-garlic-chicken-pork diet. In an act of defiance, I stumbled from my faith in pork and tried modern science. And my doctor giveth me Prilosec. And I was happy. (And fatter; not only could I consume tomatoes without pain, but also white wine: an entire food group I’d been fasting from for years.)

And guess what? Now I like salads! (And butter-rosemary-garlic-chicken-pork. You can like both! There’s a gray area in life, a concept that I’ve paid many a shrink to help me discover.)

There’s also a pink area. And a gooey and awesome bright yellow area, once you break open that heavenly soft poached egg (that somehow went straight from one of God’s creatures and directly into the kitchen at Sage American Bistro). This, friends, is my favorite salad in Columbus. It combines animals and plants. There’s no dilemma here: just eat it in a way that doesn’t involve lifting the plate and dumping it directly into your mouth. Try to use utensils. Each bite magically contains hearty smoky bacon in thick but bite-size pieces, that aforementioned warm egg, soft hidden morsels of goat cheese, pickled onion, freshly cracked peper and a tangy dressing. It’s cool. It’s warm. All salads should be like this. And once Michael Pollan is President of Food, Chef Glover needs to be given some sort of cabinet position involving pork.

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Pre-Damage Control.

When Jill and I are in each other’s company, the tiny bit of restraint we possess individually goes right out the window. (I shudder to think of the damage that would’ve been done had we known each other for more than a single semester in college.) Jill is joining me in New York tomorrow evening, so in preparation for her visit—and the reemergence of our not-so-hidden debaucherous tendencies—I decided that packing my lunches for the rest of the week might not be the worst idea in the world.

And considering the weekend’s eating agenda, making something cheap and healthy-ish seemed to be the way to go—it’s pretty much a given that nothing from either category will make an appearance on our plates once her plane lands.

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Round One: Slovenia.

Let me begin by admitting that my research of Slovenian cuisine was pretty shallow, and limited to the first two links in a Google search. The country is known for mushrooms, dandelion greens and potatoes. And most of their dishes are heavily meat-oriented, which made my task a little difficult, as I was cooking for a vegetarian.

I selected two recipes: a salad, laden with potatoes and a hard boiled egg and a mushroom and cheese appetizer. The former was supposed to be comprised of dandelion greens, but I went with some irresistible-looking local red leaf from the store. Once again, I compromised the integrity of this project by completely ignoring the main ingredient. Even with the wrong greens, the salad was the easy winner in this meal. Cool, tangy and light, I’ll likely make it again.

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Setting the Pace.

Remember the weather two days ago? When it was perfectly warm and sunny with a beautiful breeze just barely rippling through the air? In case the chill and drizzle of the past forty-eight hours have clouded your mind, let me refresh your memory: It was ideal for barbecuing.

Thank goodness said weather coincided with the holiday that, for me, marks the beginning of summer.

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Growing up, this was the weekend that the pool opened. My mother, sister, and I would cross our fingers and hope for clear skies all week; if we were lucky, we’d spend as much time as possible swimming. My dad would stay home and watch the Indianapolis 500, with the television on and the sound off. (He preferred the radio commentary, which was invariably cranked up so loud you could hear it a block away. It had to be blasting to approximate the noise level at the Brickyard for full effect.) Dinner was something easily thrown together after a day spent working up an appetite, eaten outside with twilight encroaching.

Things are very, very different now, but I still like to spend Memorial Day outdoors, usually soaking up vitamin D in the park while playing soccer. I speak from experience when I say that there’s nothing like a meal from the grill after an afternoon in the sun, especially when that something is at once hearty and refreshing.

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On-The-Fly Dinner Party: Part 1.

An impromptu dinner party came into place after a late Friday afternoon group gchat session with a few friends. Although it was after five, I was still at the store and dinner plans had not yet been solidified for the evening. Michael had already planned on making a deep dish Chicago-style pizza. I bribed him and his crew to come to my house with promises of fresh basil from the store (my basil seedlings are not quite ready to be harvested), a large kitchen to work in and a television that could show basketball. (The last part of the bribe was a bit of a gamble. While my roommate has a television, I’ve never actually seen it used for anything but playing DVDs.)

My part of the dinner would be the rest: appetizers, salad and dessert.

There’s been a big twitter brouhaha about watermelon radishes as of late, and a fellow tweeter linked to a blog that showed them beautifully displayed in a pile of chickpeas. As the dinner was impromptu, I decided to cheat with regular ol’ hummus and rice crackers.

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The radishes came with a crunchy kick that worked perfectly with the smooth cool flavor of the hummus and the crisp buttery flavor of the rice crackers. In short, I’m a watermelon radish convert.

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Springing Forward.

A confession: I am terrible at making rice. This is no exaggeration, as anyone who’s sampled my best efforts will testify. If it weren’t for Matt’s hand-me-down rice cooker, I’m not sure I’d ever make it myself—it’s one of the few kitchen tasks I’m more than happy to hand off to a willing volunteer.

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Of course, I was on my own last night when an undeniable craving for black beans and rice struck. I wanted something a bit more homemade than my old standby—which calls for a package of premixed seasoning and is, um, the recipe on the back of the Goya can—and, happily, a survey of my Moosewood cookbooks turned up a quick, healthy alternative. Quinoa Black Bean Salad: Similar flavors, but no rice required.

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The Guilt-Free Friend.

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I mentioned latkes in a post yesterday, which reminded me of this salad. At some point, I’ll go more in-depth on my (short) journey with latkes, but for now, lets talk about healthy food.

I served this salad at a dinner party featuring latkes, in the hopes that the leafy greens and the citrus would counteract the massive amount of fried food that would fill the table. This was my first experience “cooking” with endives. Endives, in my world, frequently appear with some sort of cream cheese / goat cheese / bleu cheese and bacon concoction at parties. Clearly, they’re used to playing a supporting role, at best. But in this salad, they share center stage with the oranges.

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