Looking for a winter lettuce salad recipe? Welcome! And if you’re finding this post not in winter, substitute in some summer greens and enjoy. You can find some of our favorite summer recipes here.
Since we’ve last talked over here, as you might expect, Tim and I have been spending all our spare moments in the kitchen. This weekend, we’ve tested 12 recipes in two days. I guess this is another way of saying you’re all invited over for dinner. Hope you don’t mind the complete disaster that is our living room and our dining room and everything else. We did make our bed this morning because we like to look at it, all neat and folded and inviting, to feel like we’re still civilized humans, but of course that only works if our eyes are able to avoid the pile of laundry next to it on the floor.
Friday night there were cookies—four test batches before we hit the win. This afternoon, Tim sliced a loaf of marbled einkorn rye so pretty, it took my breath away. Now, he’s in front of the stove, watching another experiment bake, and I’m giving thanks again that I get to undertake this project with him.
Writing a cookbook is daunting, I don’t know how else to say it. You come up with ideas, you buy ingredients, you test ideas. They don’t work. You test ideas. They do work. You buy more ingredients, you do more tests, you throw your hands up in the air when you think about things like budgets and regular work hours. Mostly, you feel like there’s no way you’ll be able to get it all done.
People ask you about your new project The Cookbook and you hear yourself saying things like you’re a little overwhelmed and you feel like you’re mind’s still at the stove. When you come home later, you realize you forgot to say you’re also glad. Just like when you were planning a wedding or looking for a place to rent or traveling, you know that this stressful task before you is good.
I read a poem a few months ago that stopped me in my tracks when I found it, particularly this line:
“Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second,
Then decide what to do with your time.
-Naomi Shihab Nye (from “The Art of Disappearing”)
I like it because it reminds me that in life we are always busying ourselves with something, be it holiday shopping or extra work hours or writing a cookbook. In the midst of our projects, our work feels all-important, so exhausting, like a task that will never end. We’re tired and we’re focused, and when people ask us about our days, our tasks are what pour out. But we could tumble any second, no matter how fast we’re moving. Every moment is a gift.
This winter lettuce salad, inspired by one we saw (but never tasted!) on a daily menu from Nashville’s Margot, which is one of our favorite restaurants in the city, filled up a few of our moments this month. We ate it with my brother-in-law on a Sunday afternoon at our table, dishes in the sink and lists on the fridge. It features seasonal greens (any winter lettuces would work); slippery, oily roasted red peppers; crumbles of tangy feta; and a rosemary garlic vinaigrette. I want to remember it as a way we lived this month, in and amongst a busy schedule, before Christmas came.
Winter Lettuce Salad with Roasted Peppers and Feta
I realize that the holidays of television specials are not, for most people, the holidays of reality. Travel is stressful; family is complicated; people have magazine expectations for non-magazine life, and those magazine expectations tend to hurt when they’re crushed. One of the best and worst parts about family is that you don’t get to pick who they are—You don’t get to pick parents who are super interested in your life or siblings who like all the things you do. You don’t get to pick aunts and uncles who know you’re vegan or gluten-free and are willing to accommodate that when you share your annual Thanksgiving meal. You might see a salad like this one at the end of November and think you want to add it to the holiday meal, but you’re not allowed to help; you might see a salad like this one and wish someone else would make it, but you’re the one already managing the long list. Going into the holiday season, for many people, confronts feelings you probably don’t want to have, and so sometimes you think it might be easier to stay home, or at least to tell the other people to; I know.
The main reason I am posting this recipe is because the Napa cabbage we’ve been getting in our farm share lately has convinced me there is no prettier vegetable on earth. From those lacy leaves to that ombre green color, Napa cabbage is seriously stunning. I don’t often pick up a vegetable simply because it looks nice—I mean, there was that one time—but if I were going to start doing it again, Napa would be the one. It’s a star. And talking about Napa cabbage’s beauty is worth talking about because, as far as lists go, Prettiest Vegetables is probably one of the only ones it’d make. I mean, when was the last time you ordered Napa cabbage at a restaurant? Received it on your plate when dining in the home of friends? Looked twice at it in the produce section and brought it home? What do you think about Napa cabbage, if you’ve tried it? Has it registered as something worth shouting about? The thing about Napa cabbage is, despite its curb appeal, it’s still cabbage. Roughage. A colon cleanser. That brings me to the second reason I am posting this recipe: It’s a good one for cleaning things out (and I don’t mean from your refrigerator). [Read more…]
Telling you I like panzanella is a little like telling you my teenage self liked pizza. I don’t like panzanella; I want to eat it every day. In the same way I grew up buying Tombstone and Jack’s and, let’s be honest, eating any pizza anyone would give me, now I want panzanella, and I want it all the time. Really, the jump from pizza addict to panzanella evangelist isn’t a crazy one. The most traditional versions of panzanella are practically pizza, deconstructed: bread, tomatoes, basil, mozzarella cheese. But lately, my panzanella love has pushed me to new combinations of ingredients, ones far stretched from anything resembling a pizza slice. And while sure, I might be biased, I have to say, I think a radish panzanella like this one could make a zealot out of anyone.
This salad starts with radishes—and saying radishes are beautiful is kind of like saying I like panzanella. [Read more…]
There is such satisfaction in bringing together a meal, especially on a dreary day. Where most people crave blankets and movie screens on cloudy weekends, I am the type to crave the kitchen. The kitchen is a place of birth and discovery–a space for testing ideas and seeing what works, for creating combinations that nourish and delight–and when the dreary day you’re facing stems from more than the weather, discovering new things is like medicine for the soul.
Tim and I got a new bathroom ceiling this week. First, we got a massive ceiling bubble that Tim had to pop with a knife, straddling the toilet and the tub, a five-gallon bucket in his other hand while water shot from the ceiling cyst like milk from a cow; but then, beginning Wednesday and ending, hopefully, right around the time this post publishes, a nice handyman named Jim patched and worked and painted things, and our ceiling looked like a ceiling again. I’m not afraid to use the bathroom anymore, and I don’t have to drive down the street to White Castle to sneak into the ladies’ room, so obviously things are looking up. Also, Monday night and Tuesday night, like rewards for the days we’d survived and laughed through, the two of us sat down to matching plates piled high with salads like this one. Even I have to admit it’s hard to complain when your plate is full of this.
I’d eaten at Tim’s approximately two times when I started to sense a theme. When that guy makes a salad, he makes it a particular way. Maybe everybody does this? Over the following years and months, I’ve eaten this same basic salad with him alongside grilled cheese sandwiches, at fancy dinners we’ve thrown for friends, during Sunday night barbecues, on lazy weeknights and in many spaces in between. I’ve eaten it so many times with him that it’s truly become our salad, the one we always make, the fallback, the standby, the one we’re calling The House Salad, with Cucumbers and Tomatoes.