When I was a kid my Mom, as most moms do, drove me crazy. As soon as tomato season started every time she would bite into a tomato, and I mean every time, she would swoon. Really. Not just get a bit excited, but the “do you need smelling salts’ kind of swoon. She would take one bite and in a fit of slight rapture she would exclaim “oh….. this is sooooooo good”. “Yes Mom, we know. They are good.” we would say. “No.” she would say, ” but these are SOOOOOOO good”. Sigh. As a teenager it was mortifying.
Reading. I can’t imagine a life without it. Books, magazines, anything.
I’m one of those people who always has a least 3 books and several magazines on the go. A good book (the kind that might have won an award), a trashy book (the kind you could accidentally drop in the tub) and a work type of book (the kind that needs a highlighter). I especially love reading food magazines. You know, the kind of magazine you read “just for the articles”. Food porn so to speak. I’ve been struggling with my writing lately. But reading? I seem to be doing just fine.
Last week I walked into the kitchen to plan dinner. I had just been reading some of the great book by Dianne Jacobs Will Write for Food and contemplating how to describe food with different metaphors and similes. Coincidentally I happened to be eating some candied ginger (this is connected, trust me). I opened the fridge. Wow. What a random bunch of ingredients. As I perused the available produce I recalled a salad I had tried and discarded. A few months ago I had discovered a recipe in one of my many piles of magazines for a celery and fennel salad dressed with just olive oil and salt (my apologies that I absolutely can not seem to find the article so am unable to give credit). We had tried it and thought average. Not good, not bad, just there. Light and refreshing, but no zing. Suddenly however I had all of these creative juices swimming around in my brain (and ginger zinging around my mouth) and thought I can make this better. The result was a celery, fennel and radish salad with a candied ginger and meyer lemon dressing. It’s still a work in progress, but I think it’s pretty good. Better at least than my similes and metaphors.
The lightness of it makes it work well as an accompaniment to a heavier meal. But, I think it works best as something to build a lunch around. Add chickpeas, quinoa or white beans and toss it in a container for work. Saute some fresh shrimp with some ginger and lemon, add it to the salad and serve over some spinach or arugula. Or try mixing it in with some tuna salad served in a pita or wrap.
While I go work on my writing please enjoy. Happy reading.
- 6 stalks celery
- 1/2 bulb fennel
- 5-10 radishes
For the dressing:
- 2 meyer lemons (regular lemons will work too)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 5 small pieces of candied ginger, finely chopped
- 1/4tsp dried ginger
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Chop celery and fennel into, relatively uniform, bite size pieces. Slice or chop the radishes. Place all vegetables in a bowl.
To make the dressing squeeze the juice of the lemons into a jar (I like mason jars). Add the remaining ingredients. Put a lid on it and shake.
Combine dressing with vegetables. This salad is ideal if the flavours can meld at least for a few hours.
Some weeks are just lazy cooking weeks. You’re sick, you’re busy, the kids (or cats in my case) need to go to the doctor, the house is a disaster, laundry piles up and the weather outside gets worse. That was last week. Dinners were uninspired to say the least. It was kind of an open-up-the-fridge-and-see-what-you-can-create week. The result was a lot of simple meals. Nothing fancy, just the basics.
Tomato season isn’t really upon us. (Although, there are a few on the vine!)
Yet I can’t stop thinking about this….
- 2 slices of fresh toasted bread spread with fresh guacamole.
- A thickly sliced juicy tomato.
- A handful of lettuce or arugula.
- 2 slices of extra old cheddar cheese (or for pure decadence skip the guac and cheddar and try a few slices of cambanzola cheese) .
- Lots of sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
That’s it. Is there anything more noble than the tomato sandwich?
A tomato sandwich with bacon.