A Farmers Market Salad

farmers market salad

You’d never know it from this blog, but at 9 (!!) months pregnant, I’m still cooking dinner just about every night. Photos, too, are still being taken on a fairly regular basis, though they don’t often make it to my Flickr stream until days after the fact. As for the blogging… well, after commuting and work and more commuting and dinner-making and possibly ice cream, I’m lucky if I can keep my eyes open to read a chapter or two before passing out for the night. And I’m generally okay with that.

But I really had to tell you about this salad.

Farmers market season is in full swing here in New England, and between Providence and Boston, we could hit a market just about every day if we wanted. Though Mike and I are no longer just a short walk away, we still frequent the big Saturday market at Lippitt Park, and when we’re there, our friend Lynn (hi Lynn!) makes sure we don’t leave without a big bunch of kale.

Now, I like kale, I really do, but I had darn near run out of new or interesting ways to prepare it until I found a folded up page in the middle of a stack of old papers to be shredded. It was a printed list of specials from one of our favorite old NYC haunts, and as my eyes scanned the list of ingredients for this salad, I knew that even though I had never actually eaten it at any of our many visits to Diner, I’d have to try to replicate it at home.

sweet corn, shucked

I started with the dressing – a splash of red wine vinegar, a pinch of coarse sea salt, the juice of half a lemon, and a palmful of chopped fresh cilantro leaves, whisked together with just enough of our best olive oil to bring it all together. I added slivers of red onion next, allowing them to steep for a bit to lose their sharpness, then I added the kale – half a bunch or so, torn into manageable bites, tossing it with the dressing until the leaves were well-coated. Next came some fresh sweet corn (an ear’s worth of kernels), a couple of ripe white peaches, sliced, and finally, a shower of salty, crumbled Narragansett Creamery feta. Let it sit for a minute or five, until the kale softens up a bit. Then eat.

We ate this alongside Mike’s delicious brick chicken, but the salad was the star – an unexpected combination of flavors that worked just beautifully together. We each had two bowls of it, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be making this right through the end of summer.

Big Stuff

sardines, fennel, tomato

I don’t know what to say.

It’s well into February and I haven’t posted here in what feels like forever. We’ve been cooking up a storm, working on projects in the kitchen, eating some truly wonderful things, but I just haven’t had it in me to post.

There’s so much to tell you. But I can’t talk about it just yet.

Dinner: January 22, 2011

I do want to talk about this pasta, though. It seems like every time I talk about this dish, something big happens. I last posted about it here in 2007, to an enthusiastic response.

Almost a year later, with Mike in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail and me at home in Providence, I watched wide-eyed as my site meter shot skyward, topping out at 12,127 hits – twelve thousand, one hundred twenty seven hits – thanks to a post on a Yahoo! Shine blog which linked out to that old Linguine con Sarde post.

And now my recipe for this dish, this humble pantry supper I’ve been making for us for years, is the latest addition to the second food52 cookbook.

As in book one’s scallop competition, I was up against the incredibly talented cook melissav, and today, I learned that my Linguine with Sardines, Fennel and Tomato came out on top in the voting. Sardines with pasta! People are cooking this, and enjoying it, people are eating sardines, and that’s not just big, it’s huge. I couldn’t be happier, or more proud.

To all of you who voted, who commented, who are a constant source of support and inspiration, THANK YOU.

Towards the Light

coming home

December already. I can’t believe we’re closing out another year, though for many reasons, I’ll be happy to put this one behind us. I’ve been struggling with the weather already, crawling stiff-limbed out of bed, heading out to the bus stop each morning swaddled in layers, returning home in darkness, cheeks red and fingers numb, guided by twinkling holiday lights to the warmth of our kitchen.

I’ve been cooking a lot, not that you’d know it by coming here, mostly big pots of brothy things, soups and stews to force the chill from my bones, but very little of it has been noteworthy. Most dishes have been comprised of odds and ends foraged from the freezer and pantry, from leftovers repurposed, from trying to stretch a protein over a series of meals. We’ve been tightening our belts even more than before, in anticipation of the holidays but also of necessity. We’ll scrimp more now so we can splurge a bit at Christmas.

cabbage

And with the exception of one glorious night out with dear friends recently, we’ve been staying in. I don’t mind it so much – I’m a homebody at heart – but I do find that I have really been missing the spark of inspiration I get from a good meal out, the way a chef will work with an ingredient, pair it with something unexpected, or prepare it in a new (to me) way. I feel like I’m in a rut, my taste buds in hibernation, my creativity lacking.

Dinner: December 9, 2010

I did, however, have a minor breakthrough last night with a pasta dish that I’ve been trying to recreate forever (or at least since February of 2008), a simple mix of spaghetti with savoy cabbage, pancetta, and pecorino cheese that I first tasted at A Voce in NYC. I’ve played with this preparation over the years with varying levels of success, and while I’ve come close in the past, I think I finally nailed it. The key, I think, was to really hammer the cabbage, to wilt it down to silky strands, almost caramelizing it, rendering it soft and sweet and utterly delicious. I added a tiny knob of butter too, which rounded out all of the flavors, allowing the salty pecorino and flecks of freshly cracked pepper to really dance on your tongue. This may not have been the prettiest dish, but the flavors really sang, and it was so good we had seconds.

No-sweat Cooking, Day 20

White Bean & Avocado Wraps

31 dishes, 31 days – I’m cooking my way through Melissa Clark‘s “No-Sweat Cooking” from the August issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. And to those of you who made your way over here via rachaelraymag.com, welcome!

Okay, I’ve gone rogue.

I didn’t actually mash the beans and avocados together, because our avocados were still a little firm, and… well… I’m still feeling a little twitchy around the avocados after my recent knife-versus-pit mishap.

I’ve also got a not-so-secret thing for salt and acid flavors, so I ended up using quick-pickled shallots in place of raw onion in this dish, and Mike and I both liked the extra oomph. I will say I used a bit of a light hand on the cheese – Microplane graters are awesome for giving you soft, airy mounds of cheese, but with the rich creaminess of the beans and avocado, and the peppery radicchio, we found ourselves wanting more cheddar flavor. Next time, I’l definitely add more.

Dinner: August 16, 2010

Overall, this was a great combination of flavors, and a surprisingly filling meal with a few wedges of perfectly ripe heirloom tomato alongside.

Get the Recipe: White Bean & Avocado Wraps

No-sweat Cooking, Day 19

Kale Salad With Apples & Currants

31 dishes, 31 days – I’m cooking my way through Melissa Clark‘s “No-Sweat Cooking” from the August issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. And to those of you who made your way over here via rachaelraymag.com, welcome!

So about that kale salad that went alongside last night’s brick chicken? In a word, wow. We love our kale around here but I had never gotten around to trying it raw, and this salad was a revelation.

The fun thing for us was that the salad was exactly the sort of thing we could imagine being served at our beloved Marlow and Sons, a beautifully balanced mix of textures and flavors, and endlessly adaptable with the seasons. As we ate, Mike and I talked about how we might riff on this as various things cycle through the farmers’ markets, and I expect some version of this kale salad is going to become a regular part of our dining repertoire.

Get the Recipe: Kale Salad with Apples & Currants

No-sweat Cooking, Day 18

Herbed Crab Salad-Stuffed Avocados

31 dishes, 31 days – I’m cooking my way through Melissa Clark‘s “No-Sweat Cooking” from the August issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. And to those of you who made your way over here via rachaelraymag.com, welcome!

I love avocado in just about any form, so I was looking forward to trying these Herbed Crab Salad-Stuffed Avocados and they did not disappoint. Our avocados were on the small side so we have a good amount of the crab salad left over, but that’s hardly a bad thing – I’m sure it will be great on a sandwich or a mound of crisp greens… or maybe we just need to buy more avocados.

Get the recipe: Herbed Crab Salad-Stuffed Avocados