Daily Archives: 3 June 2016
It’s summer! I know we haven’t hit the summer solstice yet, but Memorial Day is the informal start date to summer in my mental calendar. Summer means lots of fresh vegetables and salads, salads, salads. I love salads. When I look at my recipe box, the Salad section is nearly as thick as Sweets. Certainly, it’s the most heavily used.
Panzanella, or simply “Bread Salad” as it’s known at my house, is always a favorite. Croutons of rustic bread tossed with lots of savory ingredients and a tangy dressing make regular appearances. I also make Fattoush, which uses crumbled toasted pita for the bread and has a Middle Eastern flavor profile.
Even when I already have a favorite recipe for something, I’m always open to a new twist. This week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays offers just that. David Lebovitz’s version is similar to yet different from mine.
Similar are the chopped vegetables (cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and scallions) and the herbs (parsley and mint). Different: he uses sliced radishes instead of the chopped red pepper in mine. I like the radishes better. Different: he adds a healthy dose of hearty lettuce, making his fattoush more like a green salad. I tried it, but definitely prefer this salad without the lettuce. We both use a lemony dressing and a tangy sprinkle of sumac. David’s dressing with the additions of garlic and mustard has more zing than my simple lemon vinaigrette and is the clear winner.
Fattoush is in the First Courses chapter of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. The first night I made it, I was home alone. I made the dressing in a jar instead of the salad bowl so I could use it for several smaller batches of this salad. Dressed salads especially those made with crisp bread are not good keepers. I cut up vegetables to make a quarter of the recipe, even though it serves 6. With a little bit of cheese and crackers on the side, I found that the salad was substantial enough to count as dinner. I made half the recipe another night which Howard and I shared along with a beet salad for our meal.
This recipe was worth trying. It was good, but it won’t displace my own favorite recipe. However, I definitely plan to incorporate parts of his recipe (radishes, dressing) into mine as we move ahead into summer.
The highlight of my Memorial Day weekend was a short hike in nearby Concord Massachusetts to check out a blue heron rookery. I occasionally catch one wading in the pond Bella and I walk around every morning. And I love the prehistoric look of herons flying overhead. They remind me of pterodactyls. When my neighbor (hi, Cass!) told me where to find the rookery, I channeled my inner Mary (Hirsch), had Howard find the binoculars, and we went for a ride.
Observing their high nests on top of dead or dying trees in a marsh, I was surprised to see both parents tending one or two babies in each nest. There were 6-8 nests in all. The babies seemed to be getting ready to fly. We saw a couple of them perched on the edge of the nest where it looked like they were working up the courage to step off and test their wings. This week, I expect they have already flown off. I wish them safe travels.
Cook the Book Fridays was formed by bloggers who met through French Fridays with Dorie, have remained friends, and enjoy cooking together (virtually anyway). Others have joined us in this new adventure cooking through another French cookbook, David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. You can too!