Herby Greens with Fennel

January 25th, 2012 · 7 Comments · Sides, Salads, Soup, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

If I had a nickel for every email in my inbox saying I’m making Andy’s Pork Ragu this weekend for guests. What should I serve with it?…I would’ve shut down this site by now and built my dream house in Block Island overlooking Mohegan Bluffs. But since I seem to have mastered the art of working my tail off for no money*, I will just give you the quick answer: This salad. Herby, easy, wintery-not-pretending-to-be-summery. You can shave an apple in here, too, but the sweetness in the vinaigrette will suffice as a counterpoint to the pork.

Herby Greens with Fennel and Cider Vinaigrette

In a large bowl, add the following:

Fresh greens (or as fresh as you can find in the winter)
1/2 bulb fennel, shaved into slices with a mandoline
handful of chopped mixed herbs such as cilantro, chives, parsley

Make this vinaigrette:

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
1/2 cup good quality olive oil

Toss vinaigrette into salad.

*shamelessthinly-veiled attempt to guilt you into pre-ordering my book.

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Rosa’s Lentil Salad

October 24th, 2011 · 11 Comments · Dinner, Sides, Salads, Soup, Vegetarian

In the mid-80s, after a long day of wrestling with algebra and 7th-grade-girl politics, my best friend Jeni and I would head to her house to decompress with a Ms. Pacman marathon. I remember the two of us walking into the sunny foyer of their tall Victorian, dumping our CB jackets and LeSportSacs in a big mound on the floor (so thoughtful), and then, like programmed robots who had no say in the matter, heading straight for the kitchen.

Remember when Bugs Bunny would smell something delicious and he would literally float in the air following the wafting aroma? That was what it was like walking into that house. More often than not, Jeni’s mother Rosa would be in her kitchen cooking up a roast, baking a pie, or concocting dinner from one of the stained cards or yellowed New York Times clippings that were jammed into a little wooden recipe box on the counter.

I felt so comfortable in their home that I would open the refrigerator and poke around for something to eat without even asking. Unlike in my house, where the idea of a jackpot after school snack was an Entenmann’s chocolate frosted doughnut dipped in a glass of whole milk, a jackpot at Jeni’s was a tupperware container filled with leftovers from dinner the night before. And on the best days, one of those leftovers was Rosa’s lentil salad. There was nothing terribly fancy about the recipe — it was made with lentils, scallions, peppers, and a tarragon-spiked vinaigrette — but something magical would happen overnight when all those flavors mingled. I would’ve bypassed the entire Entenmann’s section in Grand Union for a bowl of the stuff.

I probably ate the lentil salad eight hundred times in my childhood, but I don’t think one of those times was in a proper dinner table setting. The only way I can remember eating it is straight from the tupperware container, both Jeni and I sitting on the Marimekko-cushioned kitchen bench fighting each other for every last bite. And even though I’ve since made some version of the recipe in my own kitchen eight hundred times (most recently last week alongside a simple salmon), that still remains my favorite way to eat it. (more…)

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Two Bowls

July 21st, 2011 · 9 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Dinner, Organizing, Strategizing, Planning, Picky Eating, Sides, Salads, Soup

I wish I could say that the inspiration for this meal came from a stroll through my farmer’s market — from those gorgeous bunches of lacinato kale and bushels of Romano beans; from the juicy blackberries and rosy, plump apricots and white nectarines; from the summer spinach that seems to coo: Come hither! Slather me in olive oil and toss me around a little! (more…)

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Spring Salads: Thinking in Threes

March 25th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Dinner, Picky Eating, Sides, Salads, Soup, Vegetarian

Last year during a routine physical check-up I told my doctor I was worried about my brain — I couldn’t remember anything anymore. I was telling the same stories to the same people. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t pull up the name of that Terence Stamp movie I talked about throughout the year 1999. I forgot it was Store Day in second grade…again.

My doctor asked me if I had ever forgotten to pick up my kids at the bus stop.

No, thank goodness.

Your brain is fine. You’re just not paying attention. When you forget something important, then come talk to me.

I’ve come up with strategies to combat the forgetfulness and noticed that I’m good at remembering things in threes. When I leave the house: Keys-Wallet-Phone. When I go to bed: Face-Teeth-Contacts. When I am the one in charge of school bag-packing: Lunch-Homework-Library Book.

And lately, to make a memorable salad? Fruit-Nut-Cheese.  The combos below work when tossed with bibb, arugula, or mesclun and a simple vinaigrette. (You will also never hear me object to the addition of something in the onion family — snipped chives, scallions, or a finely chopped shallot). Bonus: These salads also provide an instantly Deconstructible Dinner for the kids.

Oh, and it was The Limey. The Terence Stamp movie was The Limey.

Threesome of Threesomes

1) Walnuts-Feta-Dried Cherries
Trader Joe’s sells the most delicious tart Montmorency cherries — for a much better price than the ones you get at Whole Foods.

2) Pecan-Pear-Blue Cheese
Try to buy candied pecans if you can. And if you have time, sautee the pear pieces briefly in butter.

3) Almonds-Manchego-Oranges (or even mandarins)
I prefer sliced almonds in salads. They integrate better with the leaves and have the most satisfyingly soft crunch.

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