The blog is dead, long live the blog!
The past week has been in the 90’s here, and without air conditioning or a range hood, I’ve been cooking during the cooler nights and stocking the refrigerator with cold salads.
My favorite new food item is wheatberries (whole wheat kernels minus the hull). I had seem them for a long time in the bulk section of natural food stores but dismissed them as something only a health nut would choke down. I was finally persuaded to try them by Mark Bittman in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian who wrote that they were one of his staple ingredients, ranking them as good as polenta. So there! I cooked them simply by boiling them in water, always making sure they didn’t dry out. They took about an hour but by the end they were deliciously nutty and chewy and left a sweet aftertaste sort of in the same way artichoke hearts do. Does that sound unappetizing? I don’t mean it to–I should instead them as having a texture between brown and wild rice, with a nuttier flavor. That sounds better. If I was reading this and was not yet convinced to try them, this would be the place to mention they cost less than a dollar a pound and are really good for you…
My favorite recipe so far is a wheatberry salad with cabbage and course mustard from Bittman (HTCEV p. 85). So refreshing, flavorful, and crunchy, I made nearly two gallons of it and it was gone in less than two days. Besides cooking the wheatberries the night before, it was a snap to make using pre-shredded cabbage from TJ’s. (Lazy, I know…) I intend to try the rest of his wheatberry recipes before the end of summer and will report back.
My refrigerator+cabinet surprise/recipe of the week was a pasta salad: whole wheat penne with broccoli and shaved parmesean tossed in walnut oil, a little greek yogurt, lemon juice, salt, hot pepper flakers, and lemon zest, which added a nice complex flavor. Due to a pasta-draining mishap, the ratio of penne to broccoli was 1:1 and although this wasn’t my original idea, I think it was pretty good. Nice layered flavors, right amount of acid/salt/cheesiness…. I’d go on but after remarking that she liked it, Deb noted it was reminiscent of cold mac and cheese. I might tinker with it a bit next time and skip the urge to make the dressing creamy.
Although it was not a salad, I have to endorse Mom’s advice for the bag of fava beans we got from our CSA earlier this month. Rather than laboriously prepare them in the kitchen for a small pile of parboiled, shelled, and sauted beans, we ate them raw according to specific direction. We sat outside with a bottle of Chianti, a baguette, a wedge of Parmesan, butter, and sea salt and just shucked and nibbled for two hours over conversation. I could do it weekly, but sadly, their season is just about a week long. Till next year!
Plans for the rest of this hot weather week include wild rice salad with roasted peppers, green olives, and corn, baked kale with peaches and balsamic (unless that’s vetoed as too weird), and sweet potato/apple burgers with a butter lettuce salad. Any ideas for what to do with a box of figs purchased impulsively?