In weather like this—here in New York we had a scorcher of a Forth of July weekend—I’ll find my way to the beach the way birds migrate south, the way flowers turn towards the sun, the way sleepeaters get to the fridge. The body knows it needs the sea breeze and saltwater plunge before the mind does.
Food is usually an afterthought. I’ll toss odds and ends—carrots and radishes, a bunch of grapes, leftover salads, bread, cheese, crackers, whatever—into the cooler with a few ice packs and/or frozen water bottles. But planning ahead has its rewards, and this “beach linguini” has been a hit two years in a row. Last summer I made a batch for my friend Lesley’s and my annual Fire Island day trip. Then this past weekend, it functioned as leftovers. I served the cold linguini for dinner on Saturday night, then took the rest out to the beach.
A green salad seems so easy, so boring, but it’s one of those essential dishes like pasta, scrambled eggs, or a pot of beans, where the magic is in the details. I make one with pretty much every dinner I serve, and it ranks high in my list of favorite foods—salad with dinner is how I grew up, though I’ve come a ways from the Thousand Island dressing-ed and bagged Caesar salad-ed days of my youth. Nothing is quite as reliably refreshing. A pile of perfectly dressed greens, speckled with few or many adornments, and glistening with some bright zing and rich fruitiness in the form of a vinaigrette, is just what I want to round out a meal.
Good lettuce is a no-brainer. Save rubbery or wilted lettuce for . . . well, you might sauté it if it’s a hearty green like spinach or arugula or throw it into a smoothie, but for the most part you’ll probably just want to compost it. Some lettuces, if it looks like there’s some life left in them, can be revitalized by soaking them in ice water for 10 to 15 minutes. There are lots of good-quality pre-washed organic baby lettuces and lettuce blends out there, and I’m certainly not embarrassed to buy them. But lately, I’ve been most often drawn to the heads of green- and red-leaf lettuce sold still attached to its roots, from one of the stands at the farmer’s market near my apartment. It’s incredible how long these lettuces last—the one pictured, I bought it over a week and a half ago. I just pluck off leaves as I need them. Continue reading
If you want a show-stopping vegetarian dish for an upcoming holiday party, this is it. Vegetarian pâté is new to me—I might not be old enough to have experienced it in its heyday, which I’m guessing was the eighties, and I admit I’ve never thought to look up a recipe—but I now understand the appeal. It’s such a striking addition to a feast, such a validating reward for some hard work in the kitchen, and it’s delicious, too, sliced up into thick, cold slabs and smeared on crackers or bread.
Jeanne Lemlin’s Simply Satisfying is a book I’ve had in my kitchen for a while now. My friend and editor, Matthew Lore, loaned me his copy of the first edition, which was titled Vegetarian Pleasures, published in 1986, and one of the recipes I found there inspired the corn soufflé in Vegetarian Entrees that Won’t Leave You Hungry. Then I had the pleasure of working on the photo shoot for this recent reissue (with photographer Cara Howe and stylist Maria del mar Sacasa), in which the title changed to Simply Satisfying, and sampled many of the recipes firsthand.
I remember the 3:00pm slump being the biggest challenge of the 9-to-5 work day. Energy is low. I’ll have been working for more than half the day, but, with plenty of work still to do before the whistle blows, I won’t seem very close to going home. No matter what my productivity had been like, no matter how much I jostled between various pressing needs and priorities, at that very moment only one thing is on my mind: I must take a nap.
But sadly, a nap isn’t an option, at least it wasn’t for me. The next best is a snack and some fresh air. But during your quick walk around the block, be careful not to succumb to one of the more lucrative snack traps, which is a candy bar or some kind of pastry that will weigh you down and put you back in the mood for nap time. Continue reading
I’m way overdue for a new veggie burger. Over the past few months I’ve attempted several, but none got me very excited or seemed worth sharing. But when the idea for this one coalesced in my head one afternoon, I knew it would be perfect. I was bummed, in fact, that I didn’t think of it when I was working on the book. It would have made a great addition.
The inspiration was three-fold: one, the pair of bowling-ball-heavy heads of cabbage I lugged home from my CSA pickup; two, making my Thai Carrot Burgers recently, where grated vegetables make up the bulk of the burger; and three, thinking back on the recipe for sweet potato and cabbage dumplings that’s in my next book. Put these three things in my head and you get Sesame Sweet Potato and Cabbage Veggie Burgers. Continue reading