Roasted potatoes, olives and rosemary
Yesterday I went over to the school to help with a mural. By the time I got there, they were just cleaning up the finishing touches. A classic, “Here let me help you with that…What? You’re all done? Just finished? Well, good job, everybody!” moment. As I stood admiring everybody else’s hard work, Isaac walked by with his class and invited me to lunch. How could I say no? They eat in the gym, at long tables, and it smells like every cafeteria ever: of mushy green beans, something fried, bleach, and kids who have been running around in the sun. And it’s loud! They’re all so excited to be there, and there is decidedly more chattering than eating. Isaac, the boy who won’t eat peanut butter and jelly or bagels or “regular” cheese sandwiches ate his current lunch of choice: goat cheese on pita bread and raw red peppers. The kids who bought lunch dipped their spoons in their macaroni and cheese and smeared it on the trays and tables, but didn’t eat too much. I think nobody ate the green beans. I don’t think they’re meant to be eaten. It was sticker day, and whoever had a sticker on their tray got a prize. The children looked and looked again, sure that this time they’d find a sticker under their paper carton of pasta, though it hadn’t been there seconds before. The winner was announced…Pablo. Isaac’s friend sighed and said, “I wish I could be Pablo just for one day.” When Pablo walked triumphantly back to his seat he was mobbed by kids who wanted to see his prize. A pencil!! A whole pencil! The boy across from me said, “I saw you at the liquor store,” and I wasn’t sure how to reply. Sure, I go to the liquor store from time to time, I mean, I don’t hang out
there, but I’ve been known to buy a bottle of wine every once in a while. Isaac, who is famous for his tin foil art, made me a big cuff bracelet out of his sandwich-wrapper. It looked like a swallow. His friend said he could probably sell them, he could probably start a business of making bracelets out of tin foil. I’ve been thinking a lot about Isaac lately, and envying his spontaneous creative spirit. I feel like I work so hard sometimes to find the right words. I’ll spend a whole afternoon writing two sentences. Isaac, he just has an idea and he makes it, be it a tin foil sculpture or a drawing or a poem. He has to write sentences and stories with his spelling words, and because they very often rhyme, there’s always an easy poetry about them.
I shook it off/I stood there, by the tree/he stood here, in the soot.
“I rested a knife on my knee. Don’t ask me why there’s a rope with a knot in it. A wren landed on my thumb and pecked at that rope. I owe it a debt fore that. When I was done I read a near letter. It said: Still give the lamb a bath! The end.”
A near letter! I love that.
And here’s a picture Isaac drew on the back of his worksheets. I love this! See how the subway train goes “shhhhh,” just like it does in real life. Outside the city there’s a farm, and beyond the farm is a forest, and standing on the edge of the forest is a man saying, “ahhh.”
So your lesson for today, children, is that it’s exciting to find a sticker on a tray and win a prize, no matter what that prize may be, and it’s important to dive right in and make what’s in your head, no matter how it may turn out.
This is a really simple dish. Almost too simple to write about, except that it’s so good. It’s just tiny potatoes roasted with olives, in olive oil, with rosemary, salt and lots of pepper. Roasted olives are lovely…tender and flavorful and a little crunchy. Isaac loves them. You could add other herbs, if you liked, or a splash of balsamic vinegar or lemon.
Here’s Do It by the Beastie Boys.
The quantities can vary according to what you have and what you like. I like maybe 1/2 a cup of olives for two or three cups of potatoes. I use pitted kalamata olives, but you can experiment with different kinds.
Tiny potatoes, or larger potatoes cut into about 1-inch pieces
kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
2 or 3 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
olive oil to coat
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper
Options: Fresh or dried sage or thyme, fresh tarragon, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, minced shallots or garlic, red pepper flakes, capers…
Preheat the oven to 425. Mix the potatoes and olives and rosemary together, and toss them with enough olive oil to lightly coat everything. Spread them in a single layer in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet.
Roast for about 40 – 45 minutes, till the potatoes are soft inside and nicely browned and crispy outside. Of course the time will vary according to the size of your potatoes, so keep an eye on them.