Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Friendship in a New Place and a Salad


It's payday. That is my thought as I note the date.

My second paycheck in this new job is coming through, and this is no dream I'm living. This past week has in fact felt mildly like a nightmare. I've wanted to wake myself up and breathe a sigh of relief as my eyes adjust to the light and all the tension, self-condemnation, and tears become unnecessary.

But it takes release, faith, and intentional energy to quiet these responses, rather than a merciful awakening. The self-condemnation seems to a be a futile wearying cycle for I know I get the point -- be more mindful of changing traffic speeds on the freeway, particularly while changing lanes. Ultimately, I have much to be grateful for; there are no injuries and the collision was relatively minor.

But there goes my car, a combination of constructed parts that apparently I grew quite attached to in two years. It gave me a sense of freedom and initiative, and while it wasn't ever going to last a lifetime, its end does feel premature.

Not having the answers to how things will look in the next few steps of this process is hard. I'm at a place of need and that's a good thing, as uncomfortable as it often feels. It's a chance to let myself be helped and experience the friendships that have indeed formed in the last month.



A few weekends ago I headed out for a wonderful dinner with new friends in a new-to-me home. Hugging a heavy ceramic bowl before me, I brought my contribution: a purple and green salad full of crunchy roasted hazelnuts and walnuts.

Inspiration for the salad came from one of my favorite food sources: Nigel Slater. If I haven't waxed poetic about him on this site then, well, I've been exercising some serious self-control because I am pretty smitten by this man's writing. (Though, if you do a Nigel Slater search on my blog, as I just did, you will find a mention from four years ago that discusses a perfectly wonderful cake...I equate phrases like "perfectly wonderful" with Nigel quite frequently.)

I own Ripe, The Kitchen Diaries, Real Fast Food, and Real Fast Desserts...and will help out anyone looking to buy me a gift by dropping the obvious hint that I would gladly add all his cookbooks to my collection.


So, back to Ripe, which I was thumbing through with salad in mind. I stopped the pages from turning when my eyes fell on A "New" Waldorf Salad and the herb-filled dressing on top of such a simple, fresh flavor palate pulled me in. Not being able to leave well-enough alone, I wanted to add more salad-y bulk, so shaved napa cabbage and raddichio were penned onto my grocery list along with the apples and celery. I had access to a generous amount of local walnuts from last year's harvest and decided to throw in hazelnuts as well to add further crunchy, toasty elements.

Like I said, it was the herbs in this salad's dressing that really got me, and I would encourage you not to hold back here either. Plenty of mint and parsley whisked into an emulsion of crème fraîche and olive oil, seasoned just right, is not just a wonderful thought with apples, celery, nuts, and cabbage but would work well in so many other ways.


A Waldorf Salad (of sorts)
Adapted from Ripe, by Nigel Slater

Serves 6, as a side salad.

2 apples, a sweet crisp variety like Pink Lady
2 celery stalks
Quarter to half of Napa Cabbage, depending on size
Half to whole Radicchio, depending on size
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted

4 Tablespoons Crème Fraîche
5 Tablespoons Flat-leaf Parsley, chopped
5 Tablespoons Fresh Mint, chopped
3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Zest of One Lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

If those nuts are not already toasted, turn your oven to 350F and watch closely as you fill your kitchen with their fragrance, stirring and roasting on a single layer for approximately 10 minutes.

Chop apple and celery. Chiffonade (or thinly slice) cabbage and raddichio. Combine all in large bowl.

Whisk together crème fraîche and olive oil, slowly adding oil until smoothly emulsified. Add lemon zest. Stir in freshly chopped herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add dressing to bowl of vegetables and apples and toss. Toss in walnuts and hazelnuts right before serving.

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