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 »
A grandfather is explaining to his grandson about the internal battles that every person will face in their life. He says that there are two wolves inside each one of us. One wolf is evil – full of anger, jealousy, regret, greed, and arrogance. The other wolf is good – filled with love, peace, forgiveness, and humility. So the boy asks, “Which wolf will win?” And the wise man replies, “The one you feed.”
– Two Wolves, a Cherokee legend
This salad benefits from some time to relax, time for the dressing to permeate the potatoes. (I like to overcook the potatoes, so they sort of fall apart in the vinaigrette, but that’s a personal preference.)
You can make this salad several hours before you serve it. (If you choose the egg version, make sure to refrigerate it in the interim.) You can easily double or triple the recipe, if you’re feeding a crowd. The salad is good for up to 3 days in the fridge.
We’vebeentravelingquiteabit, but whenever I’m in the kitchen lately, allIwant is summer fruits and vegetables done simply. I grate tomatoes into pan-con-tomate pulp, add a glug of good olive oil, sherry vinegar and sea salt–it’s wonderful as it is, or spooned over grilled fish. I grill olive oil-ed asparagus and lemons together–and sauce the charred spears with the deep, grilled juice. Cut corn from the cob and fold it, raw, into every pasta/grain/salad that crosses your path.
There is certain summer produce that, once it comes into season, I cook and eat compulsively until it disappears from the market. Green garlic–the immature garlic bulb that isn’t yet papery on the outside–is one example. I use a mandolin to thinly slice the bulb whole, and then saute as I would with minced garlic cloves. Zucchini is another example. This year I’ve discovered the fresh joy of raw zucchini: marinate zucchini coins/ribbons/”spaghetti” with salt, lemon juice and good olive oil until the zucchini goes wilty and soft. That’s it.
In this salad, both treatments get elevated. I love grain-and-vegetable salads for summer: they’re happy in the fridge for many days, they serve a crowd and they’re great for picnics/cook-outs/travel.
There’s an article on Food52 today about the poet Jacqueline Suskin‘s new book, Go Ahead & Like It. Its pages are a hodgepodge of images, lists, and sketches–a collection of ‘things Suskin likes,’ built over time.
The editors at Food52 took this premise to heart, and created their own lists.
It sounds simple, but each list was a pleasure–each author so specific and so particular. It’s spiritually satisfying: a reminder to meditate on the small, happy things that wing through our day to day lives. The payoff of such a daily practice is both literary and psychological.
I wrote my own list below. It’s what floated to the surface on a Wednesday morning at the end of April, less than five weeks from my wedding, in my office in Hoboken.
It’ll be like eating at twenty awesome, ramp-focused restaurants in one day. Heaven.
The event will be held at the Basilica Hudson (handily located across the street from the Hudson Amtrak station. It’s a 2.5-ish hour drive from Brooklyn-Hudson, or a 2 hour train ride from Penn Station). A $30-ticket gives you access to a tasting portion of each dish, live music, and a (cash) bar.
On Saturday, I’ll pick a favorite ramp recipe, and post it on The Roaming Kitchen, so even those far away can participate!
(On a personal note: The Frenchman and I visit Hudson a few times a year, and we love it. The Frenchman even proposed in Hudson, in the middle of a snowstorm! While you’re there, here are some of our favorite places to visit: Grazin’ Diner (diner food, made with fantastic, grass-fed ingredients), window shopping the antique shops up and down Warren Street, Fish & Game (where the Frenchman and I dined post-proposal. It’s a special place.), Kinderhook Farm (a little to the north of Hudson, this is my favorite farm to visit/buy eggs and meat from), Olde Hudson (a specialty grocery store), LICK (for delicious ice cream), and The Spotty Dog (it’s a bookstore AND a bar!)
I have never met a group more reliable to have a good meal with–and it should be said, a few drinks with–than poets…Poets tend to love the details, the process of food, the languid hours of a good meal–meaning not just the vittles but the talk, often loud, that accompanies it.
This may also be because the best poems, like the best meals, are made from scratch. Both rely on the seasons, but also human history; both also consist of tradition, on knowledge passed down either from books or from generation to generation, hand to mouth. In poetry, there are few shortcuts, but there are secrets. Food and poetry each insist that we put our own twists and ingredients in the mix: we make each dish, like a good poem, our own. With any luck, the result is both surprising and satisfying, exactly what we wanted, perhaps without even knowing it.
However, we know well the ways in which our society has abandoned good food, and too often poetry entirely–as if it grows without water and light, and that our neglect won’t reveal itself. “Can one be inspired by rows of prepared canned meals?” asked Alice B. Toklas, who knew her way around both poetry & a kitchen. “Never. One must get nearer to creation to be able to create, even in the kitchen.”
A friend from graduate school recently came to town. We drank tequila cocktails that looked deceptively like pink lemonade in tall sweating glasses and talked and talked and talked, like we used to do when she lived two blocks away and not across the country. Our conversation eventually turned to writing, and I congratulated her on a recent publication. She gave me a funny sort of look. “I’m taking a break,” she said, “from everything. From all of it but the writing. Worrying about success in this field is a full time job, and I need a break.”
After she said it, I knew she was right. I’m as guilty as anyone. I’m far too preoccupied with the minutia of “success,” a loaded word if ever there was one. Done poorly, it’s counterproductive: the more energy I expend worrying, the less I have available for the work itself. And though I can’t quantify exactly what success looks like, I do know the prospect of not capturing it terrifies me–if I’m not successful, then do I get to call myself a writer? And if I’m not a writer then–good God–what am I? Cue all the panicked feels.
It was an enormous relief, to hear my friend echo some of my same worries about writing. Writing is a solitary act. It requires time and patience, a fact completely at odds with the connectivity, networking, marketing, and PR you must now do yourself if you want anyone to read what you’ve written. It’s too much, we decided, too much for any one person to do well.
Somewhat fortuitously, this summer I’ve fallen down an Ann Patchett reading rabbit hole. I recommend it. Her writing consistently adds intellectual and emotional pleasure to my day. I’m currently on her latest book, a memoir in the form of essays, and one strikes me as particularly relevant. The Getaway Car–A Practical Memoir about Writing and Life is long and rich, full of writing advice collected over a career. The essay contains various specific truths, but its overarching message is this: if you want to be a writer, write. Sit down at your desk, and get it done. It’s really that simple.
And so that is my goal for the summer: to write. To write just for the sake of it, just to practice. To create things and enjoy the process and learn and improve. For now, I need to divorce the output from worry over an immediate outcome. I need to turn away from fruitless comparisons, and temporarily look past how bad I am at Twitter. In short, I want to get back to the heart of it.
I wake up abruptly, for no reason at all, in a white bed on Rue Cambon. The Frenchman is asleep, one arm thrown over his head like backstroke. He’ll have been out until small hours, drinking beers on the Canal St. Martin with friends. The room is small, all white, all teeth, except for a stained mirror occupying one wall. A single window runs to the ceiling: beyond gauze white curtains, a gray window box, a spray of fuchsia geraniums, and beyond that, the pearl light of an overcast summer day.
I brush my teeth to an episode of Downton Abbey I’ve seen several times already and then set out into the drizzling city. My first stop is G. Detou (the French love wordplay: “j’ai de tout” means “I have all”) where I sometimes buy fifty bean pouches of vanilla for a song, but today a massive bag of quality cocoa powder. I skirt along the edge of Les Halles. Paris is a city of settled beauty, but I love it for the tiny details, so easy to overlook: the almost hidden covered passages containing multitudes, the throwback, neon green detective’s sign just before the Louvre.
I take myself to Fish for lunch and sit at the bar and order Sancerre. I’ll have the white bean velouté, thin and earthy with whisker slicks of olive oil and sourdough croutons half submerged like sunken ships. I’ll eat juicy sole over tangles of purple cabbage, zucchini ribbons, fennel fronds, chervil, capers. It’s really raining now, so I order the darkest espresso there ever was and drop in a craggy raw sugar cube that I break up with a miniature, heated spoon. I read my book. The rain subsides.
The book is almost finished, and I’m downright heartbroken about, do you know what I mean? I walk to Shakespeare and Co. for a new one and there’s a line out the door; a tall, blonde, American actress is also buying books. I need some peace. I wind my way into the 3eme, so many turning, narrow streets, hushed like the inside of a maze. I want to visit the Picasso Museum, a beige square block surrounded by towering beige walls, but it’s still closed. It’s been years. I’m starting to think they’ll never reopen.
I make my way back to the hotel. I needed the day alone. In the wake of the last week, how does a person put one foot in front of the other? Evening will bring dinner with my family, and then more beers with the Frenchman’s friends. In the room, the bed’s been made, a chocolate left on each pillow. I shower in the white marble bathroom, maybe just for the luxury of donning the billowing white robe. I read some more, enmesh myself in someone else’s tragedy. Then I eat both the chocolates, and lick my fingers clean.
On Sunday, the Frenchman and I organized a picnic and barbecue in Brooklyn Bridge Park. We met friends, and friends of friends, on a grassy knoll tipping toward the water, an open view of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty off to the left. We sat together on a massive tapestry, played cards, and drank gin, basil, and grapefruit punch.
That afternoon, the first warm one in eons, reminded me of many picnics past, first in El Retiro in Madrid, where we ate potato chips cooked in olive oil and sipped cheap Spanish beer, watching the rowboats pass across the pond, and then later in Paris, on the Pont des Arts or in Parc Monceau, with a bottle of rosé and a game of tarot to celebrate early summer.