Good morning! I hadn’t meant to take a whole week off but I hope everyone had a nice Fourth of July, however (or if) you celebrated. In summation: We did a round-trip drive to northern Virginia to check in on Andy’s parents, had some friends over on Saturday night for socially-distant Negronis, watched Hamilton like the rest of the world, and (perhaps I buried the lead here) I handed in draft 1 of The Weekday Vegetarians. There is still a lot of work to do — I’m in about the third inning of the game here — and believe it or not, given how rapidly food media has been evolving this summer, I already want to revise it. But still, it was a big box to check and I’m very glad I checked it. Here are three things that happened in my kitchen last week that you might like to know about…
Project: Matar Paneer
I wrote about Priya Krishna’s Matar Paneer (and her book Indian-ish) for Cup of Jo. The book came out last year, but astute PPP readers might remember that we fell in love with her khichdi early on in quarantine, and it was enough to convince us to work our way through her extremely fun and accessible book. I love what she wrote in the intro:
I hope this book does well, largely so that publishers and consumers will take more chances on stories like this one, which don’t fit the mold of what has dominated the cookbook genre for so long — a mostly whitewashed interpretation of America and its food. I wish for a day when dal chawal is as normalized as a Monday night meal as spaghetti or grilled chicken.
Well, I’m all in on that mission, and plan to fold the Matar Paneer into our dinner rotation immediately. (Maybe even try this with chickpeas or tofu instead of paneer?) Anyway, you can check out the recipe here.
Pantry: Potato Salad with Mint and Fava Beans
Yes, another potato salad — this one with fava beans and mint — but the real learning today is technique-related. I usually section my potatoes into thirds before plunging into boiling water, but lately I’ve been slicing them into thick pieces, as shown. They cook faster and when they’re done simmering, I don’t have to do any further chopping or slicing. As I type this, it sounds like something everyone else has figured out without telling me. Speaking of obvious advice, use fresh farm market potatoes whenever possible. You don’t think of potatoes having a pronounced flavor, but when they’re fresh, they taste all natural and creamy — instead of tasting like whatever dressing they’re tossed with. I kept plucking pre-dressed pieces out of the strainer — and I swear they were better than potato chips.
Now about those fava beans. I feel like every year I complain about how laborious it is to prepare them, and yet, there I am, every year, pulling them out of their pods, boiling them for a few minutes, then pinching each bean from its little protective skin one at a time. It took about a half hour to yield the bowl you see above. And yet! When tossed with mint and sea salt, or tossed into a potato salad, you realize it’s kinda worth it. (Here’s a short video tutorial if you need it.)
Potato Salad with Mint and Fava Beans
3 pounds small firm potatoes (red, white, Yukon gold) peeled and cut into thick slices as shown
⅓ cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup shelled and cooked fava beans
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts only, chopped (about ¼ cup)
Add potatoes to a large pot and cover with generously salted water. Boil gently, until a knife slides through potatoes easily, about 10 minutes. While potatoes are boiling, in a large bowl, whisk in vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper, then olive oil. When potatoes have finished cooking, drain, then toss in the large bowl allowing the warm potatoes to absorb the dressing. Add fava beans, mint, and scallions, and toss to combine.
Purpose: Food Drive
There was a story in our town’s paper about a block across town that organized a food drive for the local food pantry, which, like pantries across the country is working overtime right now. It inspired us to do the same on our block, maybe yours as well?
The goal of the Project, Pantry, Purpose series to keep us sane, distracted, connected, and USEFUL. It began in March 2020. Please continue to comment below with suggestions for recipes, projects (for kids and adults), good deeds, donation ideas, stories, movies, games, puzzles. Or just tell me how you’re doing, what your daily routine is, and especially how DALS can help you or people in your community. You can also email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.