S is for Summer and Salad

DSC03141Not living in a air conditioned space during the summer changes my attitude towards cooking. As in, I do everything in my power to avoid turning on the oven (unless it is Monday afternoon and I know that after my mega piano practice session I are going to need some cake to make it through the rest of the day, but that didn’t happen this afternoon. . . nope, definitely not). The summer that I was pregnant I discovered that salad was summer’s saving grace, in particular a lightly sauced, wonderfully tart, potato, green bean, and arugula salad topped with toasted walnuts that I have fallen head over heels for. I make it every summer; it is seriously just as wonderful post pregnancy as it was mid-term. It satisfies the “I want potato salad” craving but turns it into a meal of its own. And, if your two year old has a thing about not mixing different foods together, don’t worry, each individual part can be put in its own section of the divider plate (minus the greens which Lu has an aversion to)!

It can even be deconstructed into its constituent parts and become 2.5 year old friendly!

Thanks SK for adding something so wonderful to my life! My only alterations were to use smallish red potatoes and quarter them. Also, I swap out olive oil in the dressing for the walnut oil called for (even though I know walnut oil would be amazing) because I never seem to have it in my cupboard, and I use balsamic vinegar because I like it here (SK suggests white or other mild vinegar).

Hope you enjoy!

Arugula, potato and green bean salad (4 dinner sized salads for light eaters)

1 ounce walnuts (about 1/3 cup)
1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes quartered
6 ounces haricots, verts, or other green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch segments (I have also used asparagus cut into similar sizes)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 ounces baby arugula

Preheat oven to 375°. Place walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly, then coarsely chop and set aside.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add potatoes, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to a colander to drain and cool. Set aside.

Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. Return pan of water to a boil. Add green beans, and cook until tender and bright green, about 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to ice-water bath to stop the cooking. Drain.

Whisk together vinegar, yogurt, mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl; season with pepper. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Set dressing aside.

Arrange arugula, potatoes, and green beans on a platter. Season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with toasted walnuts; toss to coat.




June is for pies

Phew! That was quite the three months. Since my last post at the end of March, I have finished teaching, written a first chapter of my dissertation, finished planning a wedding, gotten married, moved house, and honeymooned. Now things are slowly returning to normal. My first official domestic act as a married woman was to bake a strawberry rhubarb pie.


I bought native berries and long, thick stems of rhubarb from the Italian grocery store down the street, and invested a ridiculous amount of butter in what turned out to be my Very Best Pie Crust Ever. (My advice: When Deb says to not blend the butter all the way into the dough, obey her! My butter was frozen when I started which made it impossible for me to *not* follow her instructions. The result was largish pats of butter scattered through the dough which melted away in the oven, leaving delectable golden pockets and layers of crust in their wake.)

Nobody was dissapointed. Not me. Not my philosopher. And not the housemates and unexpected guests who picked the perfect moment to stop by.

The crust was flaky and buttery and melted in our mouths. The filling was the perfect tangle of tart and sweet. If I could only pick one pie to eat for the rest of my life, it would be this one.

p.s. The crust was more golden than the photo lets on, but I think I could have baked the pie even longer than I did. I noticed on the second day that some of the bottom crust seemed par-baked still, though it was nothing a little oven-warming couldn’t remedy.