Edge of Summer White Bean + Lentil Salad

Edge of Summer Bean and Lentil Salad

parsley multi-colored cherry tomatoes

Edge of Summer White Bean + Lentil Salad

This salad comes together in ten minutes–so you can reasonably make it before or after work–and is really satisfying. I’ve eaten it every night this week. I often bring it to work for lunch; it’d be equally great for a picnic.

The order of ingredients allows what needs to marinate to marinate while you prep the next ingredient, so don’t feel as if you need to create a mise en place before you start this recipe. Prep, pour, and stir the ingredients in order; by the time everything is in the bowl, the salad will have melded.

Serve with fresh, crackling bread to mop up the vinaigrette at the bottom of the bowl, or over rice. Use as a vegetarian/vegan taco filling. Or, make ahead and spoon onto crostini for an easy hors d’oeuvre.

Additions/Substitutions: You can add chopped nuts to this salad, like toasted walnuts or crushed pistachios. Or, pepitas. Add cheese: shaved pecorino, cubed mozzarella, diced-and-pan cooked halloumi, fresh goat cheese. Add extra protein in the form of poached chicken or tofu. If you’ve been gifted a fancy oil–I have walnut and butternut squash in my pantry currently–swap it for the olive oil. Read more »

Best Veggie Burger Ever, V2

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I’m not sure whether this feeling is universal or not but, I’m finding twenty nine a very odd bird. It’s been a liminal time: I know what I want now (for the most part), but I haven’t yet figured out how to bring what I want for myself to fruition. It’s incredibly frustrating. Twenty nine is not not twenty four–I’m not trying to discover who I am. And it’s not thirty either, which in my mind is the mythical year when you are unequivocally not a child anymore.

Twenty nine has been planning a wedding, now only a few months away. From a distance, a wedding seems like a concrete action, an objective step forward. But in fact, being married isn’t a hurdle to conquer; instead, it’s a symbol (and symptom) of something much longer-brewing. In future, I don’t think we’ll think of the day after the big day as the start of our “real” relationship. Our relationship, the one that brings me comfort and joy and security every day, began six years ago. The slow work of those six years carried us here. One day isn’t a beginning or an end, but instead a (special, special) punctuation mark in the story of our life together.

But in my head, I’ve detached the symbol from the practice. I’ve spent so much time scheming and dreaming this huge party we’re throwing, this party I’m looking forward to so much. But even still, the event feels like an intangible monolith. My subconscious seems to agree, because I dream about it almost nightly now. These aren’t nightmares, but they are strange and highly vivid, so that when I wake up it takes me a full minute to realize the that dream does not reflect reality.

So many of the big questions have floated to the surface this year. Where will we live? The US and France are possibilities, but the nature of the Frenchman’s work opens up other domestic or international options, too. Will we continue to rent our narrow Brooklyn apartment, or should we buy? And if so, where? And when? If you’d asked me five years ago, I would have suggested starting a family at twenty nine. Now, that idea seems ludicrous and impossible. But if not now, then when?

Reading this over, I can see that I’m in need of an herbal tea, some yoga, and the cleansing purge of an Arrested Development marathon. I get that I’m more plan-obsessed than most balanced human beings. But even when I remind myself to forget the big things for a while, the fact is, they aren’t phantoms. The realities of twenty nine cannot be wished away, whether I like it or not. Whether I like it or not, I possess no crystal ball, and there is a limit to my agency.

Twenty nine is all the balls in the air. Twenty nine is waiting for them to fall down again, to see where they land.

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Marinated Fennel + Chickpea Salad Tartines with Whipped Feta

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On Sunday, I left all my responsibilities in states of semi-completeness on my desk. We drove away from the city in search of oysters, dodging potholes and listening to bad pop music on the radio. The day was bright and brisk, downright cold really.

I wanted to write about the romance of driving across Long Island in search of oysters with someone you love. But the trees are still completely bare, the landscape a dull green-brown. Snow banks have lost their luster, half melted and speckled with grime.

I do not know what to say, lately. Or maybe, I do not know how to say it. The state of things seems marred by banal stretches dappled with small disappointments. The Frenchman’s finger is not healing the way it should and there is absolutely nothing I can do about this. I suggest oysters.

thinly sliced fennel Marinated Fennel + Chickpea Salad

And how to talk about Florida, where we business tripped for a week–the bleached sun that took my light-starved body several days to adjust to, as if I were a bear stumbling out of hibernation. After all of the grays of this New York winter, Florida was blinding–checkers of matte pearl replaced by an open expanse of bombastic blue. And the sameness of that blue and tan, blue and tan; sky the color of water, low flat buildings the color of sand. I think it took me a week to get warm, finally, to notice the soft and carrying wind, to start scratching down recipes again; and then we flew home.

Marinated Fennel + Chickpea Salad Tartines with Whipped Feta

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Soldier Bean + Fall Vegetable Bowl with Walnut Pesto

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You arrive home late. Work was horrendous and so you are a coil primed to spring. The Frenchman is on the couch, waiting to say hello, but right away you would like to know why he has not prepared dinner. Nevermind that you did not technically ask him to make dinner (isn’t he just supposed to know?) and that he has likely had a long day himself (but you left before him and came home after him that day, so you win). He expresses his sympathy over your difficult day, and sits you right down to massage your weary shoulders. But the whole day, when you think about it in hindsight, has primed you for anger. All you needed was this tiny little spark to set you off, and so here you are, sitting at the kitchen table with anger building to a boil. Off you go. You say things. You are at least 39%, but up to 68% right. You hate to feel resentful about cooking for the Frenchman, because you actually love it very much, but in this moment you are just so mad about it all, about everything. Later, you insist upon eating your toaster oven-Amy’s-pizza dinner by yourself. You are not a perfect person, and sometimes it is necessary to act like a child. Read more »

When It’s Too Hot To Cook: Summer Tartines

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It’s too hot for cooking. Plus, the Frenchman is away on business in Atlanta (which, somehow, is cooler and less humid than New York, go figure), so I don’t feel like making a big fuss. Dinner the past few nights has consisted of various salads spooned onto toast, usually with a bit of cheese, sometimes with a runny egg.

It’s handy to keep a running arsenal of these minimally cooked, stuff-on-toast ideas for the very middle of summer, when produce is outstanding, but the idea of turning on your oven is more than you can handle right now, do you have any idea how sweltering a NYC train platform is, seriously how long do I have to wait for this stupid train to arrive, thank you very much.

These “recipes” are largely interchangeable–use the bread, cheese, and herbs you prefer. Use whatever fruit or vegetables look best at the market. When you have excellent summer ingredients on hand, it’s sort of hard to screw it up. Read more »

Lentil Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

lentil salad with Meyer lemon vinaigrette

I’ve been thinking a lot about tone and voice, and how they pertain to this blog. Although I’ve never been one for diary writing, for straightforward personal confession, I admit this is a journal of sorts. It details what I am cooking in a particular moment, as well as selected events around each recipe. I suppose creative writing of any stripe is its own kind of confession.

After a year plus of writing this blog, I’m sure my recipe-developing skills have improved. (I need only look to the archives to know this.) Part of me wants to scurry back and tweak what I know can be bettered, while another part of me is comforted by the fact that I can trace the changes. (I’m sure I’ve read similar sentiments voiced by Emma at Poires au Chocolat, but I can’t find where.) My photography skills have progressed too, as I’ve slowly learned the manual functions on my camera. Post recent birthday, I have loftier hopes still, thanks to a new lens (merci, darling Frenchman), a better editing system, and my first tripod (thanks, Mom).

But what about the other portion of the blog? The essay, the headnote, the this. When I read advice from successful bloggers, the same opinion is often echoed: “find your personal voice”, or “be yourself”. But how does one consciously follow this advice? If the hallmark of a successful blog is the convergence of skilled writing and a defined, likable personality, what qualifies the personality? From the writer’s perspective, where is the demarcating line, the happy medium, between inviting a reader into your life, and giving away the store? Read more »

Fennel, Merguez, and Preserved Meyer Lemon Braise

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Here is the thing about trying to recreate childhood dishes for the Frenchman: it is invariably a petit désastre. I have tried my hand at lentils, white beans, croque-monsieur. It’s not that my attempts are bad per se (well, except for the beans. I am bean-impaired), but they simply don’t live up to expectation; they aren’t the same. What can I say? Childhood memory is a cruel competitor, particularly in the kitchen.

The following “braise” was one such attempt. The Frenchman lived in Tunisia for six years as a kid, so the man knows his way around a couscous. He loves couscous. I, on the other hand, am quite new to the dish.

I did some research, but mostly I relied on techniques I was already familiar with (to me, winter is spelled b-r-a-i-s-e), and employed ingredients I thought made sense together. I even bought couscous imported from Tunisia, which I hoped might add some authenticity to the proceedings.

When the dish came out of the oven, I though it tasted really good: the vegetables were soft, and flavored with pan juices. The sauce itself was complex and spiced, a little spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. The couscous was downy, and tasted ever so slightly of the good olive oil I stirred into it. Read more »

My Eggs in Purgatory

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You have likely seen versions of this recipe scattered across the internet. It answers to the name shakshouka as well, an Israeli dish by way of Tunisia. But this is my own little version, which I’ve filtered to my liking and nudged in the direction of Italy.

This is a recipe of many virtues: It might look as if it were whisked from a restaurant kitchen, but it is truly easy to make, and truly quick. It’s manageable for cooks of all abilities. What’s more, it requires minimal contrivances: a knife, a cutting board, a spoon, a pan. That is all.

This is largely a pantry dish, so call upon it when you are low on time and supplies, but don’t want to sacrifice taste. (Never sacrifice taste.) Adjust the ingredient quantities/pan size depending on how many people you will be feeding, and by all means, feel free to experiment with your own additions: herbs, spices, and vegetables are all fair game. The recipe as presented is vegetarian, but I doubt anyone would complain at the addition of sausage or ground lamb, perhaps a meatball or two. Read more »