Crepes with chard, olives and tarragon-almond “ricotta”

Crepes with chard, olives, and tarragon almond "ricotta"

Crepes with chard, olives, and tarragon almond “ricotta”

Apparently it’s National Book Day! In keeping with the situation, we’re going to have another installment of our award-winning series, Minor Characters from Major Works of Literature. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Pierre Bezukhov. Needless to say, this is a character I love. Flawed, thoughtful, questing. I love the way his world and everything he believes is constantly falling apart around him, only to be rebuilt again. Later in the novel, after he’s captured by the French, after he’s witnessed acts of unspeakable cruelty and violence, this happens once again, “Sounds of crying and screaming came from somewhere in the distance outside, and flames were visible through the cracks of the shed, but inside it was quiet and dark. For a long time Pierre did not sleep, but lay with eyes open in the darkness, listening to the regular snoring of Platon who lay beside him, and he felt that the world that had been shattered was once more stirring in his soul with a new beauty and on new and unshakable foundations.” And this Platon, this snoring man, helps him to build a strong and lasting peace of mind upon which to rebuild his world.Platon Karataev is a peasant who has been sent to war as a punishment for stealing wood. I think he’s a beautiful character, and I’ll share a selection of my favorite quotes about him. Ready? Begin.
    “He would often say the exact opposite of what he had said on a previous occasion, yet both would be right. He liked to talk and he talked well, adorning his speech with terms of endearment and with folk sayings which Pierre thought he invented himself, but the chief charm of his talk lay in the fact that the commonest events—sometimes just such as Pierre had witnessed without taking notice of them—assumed in Karataev’s a character of solemn fitness. He liked to hear the folk tales one of the soldiers used to tell of an evening (they were always the same), but most of all he liked to hear stories of real life. He would smile joyfully when listening to such stories, now and then putting in a word or asking a question to make the moral beauty of what he was told clear to himself. Karataev had no attachments, friendships, or love, as Pierre understood them, but loved and lived affectionately with everything life brought him in contact with, particularly with man—not any particular man, but those with whom he happened to be. He loved his dog, his comrades, the French, and Pierre who was his neighbor…”
    “Sometimes Pierre, struck by the meaning of his words, would ask him to repeat them, but Platon could never recall what he had said a moment before, just as he never could repeat to Pierre the words of his favorite song: native and birch tree and my heart is sick occurred in it, but when spoken and not sung, no meaning could be got out of it. He did not, and could not, understand the meaning of words apart from their context. Every word and action of his was the manifestation of an activity unknown to him, which was his life. But his life, as he regarded it, had no meaning as a separate thing. It had meaning only as part of a whole of which he was always conscious. His words and actions flowed from him as evenly, inevitably, and spontaneously as fragrance exhales from a flower. He could not understand the value or significance of any word or deed taken separately.”

To Pierre, Platon Karataev is “an unfathomable, rounded, eternal personification of the spirit of simplicity and truth,” and he helps Pierre to find the tranquility he has been seeking for years.

    “In burned and devastated Moscow Pierre experienced almost the extreme limits of privation a man can endure; but thanks to his physical strength and health, of which he had till then been unconscious, and thanks especially to the fact that the privations came so gradually that it was impossible to say when they began, he endured his position not only lightly but joyfully. And just at this time he obtained the tranquillity and ease of mind he had formerly striven in vain to reach. He had long sought in different ways that tranquillity of mind, that inner harmony which had so impressed him in the soldiers at the battle of Borodino. He had sought it in philanthropy, in Freemasonry, in the dissipations of town life, in wine, in heroic feats of self-sacrifice, and in romantic love for Natasha; he had sought it by reasoning—and all these quests and experiments had failed him. And now without thinking about it he had found that peace and inner harmony only through the horror of death, through privation, and through what he recognized in Karataev.”

Karataev helps Pierre to appreciate the taste of a simple potato, and in honor of that scene I made some potatoes simply boiled with butter, salt and pepper. But that’s not a very interesting recipe to tell you about, so Instead I’ll share the recipe of what we ate them with. For our Mardi Gras meal we had crepes stuffed with sautéed chard, castelvetrano olives, tomatoes and mozzarella and a sort of “ricotta” made from almonds, tarragon, and capers. Delicious!

Here’s Dig It, by the Coup. I’m not sure why, but it just seems to fit. And I love it.
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Bright stew (with tiny potatoes, white beans, castelvetrano olives and meyer lemon) and 3-wheat medley (with farro, bulgur, and freekeh)

potato, olive, white bean and meyer lemon stew

potato, olive, white bean and meyer lemon stew

It’s a winter storm! It has a name, and I think it’s Janus, which is fitting, I suppose, this being January. Janus was the god of beginnings and change, of gates, doors, passages, journeys, endings, and time, the future and the past. But sitting here, looking out upon snow upon snow upon snow, I don’t feel inspired to start anything new, to embark on any journeys, to open any doors, be they real or metaphorical, and let the icy winds blow into my home. More arctic cold is predicted for the rest of the week. That’s right, it’s winter and we’re experiencing wintery weather. And everybody is talking about it, which is fine by me because I heartily approve of talking about the weather, I think it’s a weighty and important subject. But I also believe that if people have a problem with this weather, it’s because they made the wrong choice in being human. Obviously, they should have been dormice. I’m dormouse-obsessed at the moment. I saw a picture of a hibernating dormouse in Isaac’s magazine, and I’m completely enamored. Listen to this wisdom. They sleep all of winter and a good part of fall and spring. They don’t scurry around hoarding food, they just eat it! And get (relatively) plump! And then they curl up and sleep very soundly for months. Plus, they’re arboreal. They’re mice who live in trees. They have extravagant whiskers. They have bright dark eyes. They eat hazelnuts and berries. I want to eat hazelnuts and berries! They have little hands and feet and fluffy tails. They sleep so soundly that people can pick them up and record the sound of them snoring, which is apparently a thing that people do…


(look at his little hands and feet tremble!)


This is a juvenile dormouse in a torpid state.

If it’s snowing where you are, or raining, or the least bit cold, you should probably just stay inside and watch these BBC dormouse videos.

Or you could make this nice bright stew. It has tiny potatoes, but you could use larger potatoes and cut them up. It has small white beans, and white wine, and rosemary, thyme and sage. It has spinach and castelvetrano olives, and the juice of a meyer lemon. It’s nice in winter, because it’s savory and satisfying, but vivid and green and juicy as well. It would be nice in spring or summer with fresh new potatoes and baby spinach. I served it over a medley of wheat grains…bulgur, farro, and freekeh. I thought they were nice together because they each have a different texture. We had some goat cheese caper toasts, too, which I might tell you about another time.

Your song for today is this whistling dormouse.

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Goat cheese tart with roasted eggplant, olives, and a lemon-semolina crust

Goat cheese tart with eggplant and olives

Goat cheese tart with eggplant and olives

It’s Saturday storytelling time! It’s summer sporadic schedule Saturday storytelling time!! As I’m sure you’ll recall, each Saturday we post a found photograph, a vernacular picture, and we write a story about it, and invite everyone else to write one, too. And then, in theory, we all read each others’ stories and offer wise editorial advice. Today’s picture is lovely, I think. It has layers. And here it is… Send me your story and I’ll print it here, with mine after the jump, or send me a link to share, if you have somewhere of your own to post it.
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eggplant-olive-tartIt’s a summery tart! The eggplant is from the farm, of course, which means it’s really really the middle of summer. This whole tart is quite light and fresh-flavored, I think. The crust has semolina in it, which makes it extremely crispy, and it has lemon in it, which makes it bright. I think olives, eggplant and goat cheese form a sort of perfect trinity of flavor. So there it is!

Here’s Up on the Roof by the Drifters

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Pistachio and tarragon tart with castelvetrano olives and asparagus

Asparagus, pistachio, castelvetrano tart

Asparagus, pistachio, castelvetrano tart

If The Ordinary was a TV program, (and it’s only a matter of time, really, when you think about it) this would be the moment when we’d saunter, smiling and chatting, over to a book so large it’s printed in dozens of volumes. Everyone in the audience would jump from their seats, screaming, “The OED! Yay! Tell us how some random word was used in the 13th century! And the 15th century and the 18th, and, if possible, give us an example from only a few years ago!! Yay!!” Yes, it’s OED time! Your word for today is “sigh.” Why? Because for some reason I found myself sighing a lot this weekend. And sometimes I would just say, “sigh,” instead of sighing. And then I wrote a story about a ghost who always has a sigh in his voice, and who can shake the whole room with his sigh. Strange, very strange. So on Monday I did the obvious thing and looked the word up in the OED. Turns out its meaning hasn’t changed dramatically over the years. It’s always meant something close to “A sudden, prolonged, deep and more or less audible respiration, following on a deep-drawn breath, and esp. indicating or expressing dejection, weariness, longing, pain, or relief.” It was oft used, ere this, by the supersensitive overwrought poets and lady novelists. And yet, I find it a very fascinating word! Because it’s not a word at all. It’s a space between words. Like the grunts I found so remarkable in Ozu’s Tokyo story, which rise or fall and contain a million different easily readable meanings in one small sound, it’s almost more expressive than any actual word. And a sigh is so full of variations and possibilities! A sigh can indicate exasperation, sadness, fatigue, resignation, comfort, satisfaction. One small sound, barely a sound! Just a breath, quieter than a whisper. And everybody sighs, often without meaning to or even being aware of it. It’s a universal language. My favorite sigher at the moment is Clio. She’ll make herself perfectly comfortable, and then she’ll settle her head on her paws and heave a great sigh, as though she’s just taken care of some very important business and now she can rest for a moment. Even the leaves and the grass and the wind sigh, especially in poems. “Whenever a March-wind sighs He sets the jewel-print of your feet In violets.” A sigh can express longing, you can sigh for something or someone. You can sigh something away…even your life, “Sapores..sighed out his affrighted ghost, at the age..of seventy one,” or your soul, “Hundreds of martyrs sighed away their souls amid the flames.” Maybe your sadnesse is sigh-swolne, your age is sigh-blown, or your tone is sigh-deepened. I love the idea of communicating without words, with something only slightly more audible than a gesture or an expression, with something as vital and intimate as our breath. I love the fact that “Some sighes out their woordes. Some synges their sentences.”

Asparagus pistachio castelvetrano tart

Asparagus pistachio castelvetrano tart

I think of this as my splurge tart. I spent more money than I should on castelvetrano olives and pistachio kernels, (yes, I’m a lazy spendthrift) and asparagus, which doesn’t seem to be getting any cheaper no matter how far into spring we get. So I decided to put them all together in one tart. I made a sort of frangipane of pistachio kernels, but I added asparagus and spinach, too. I wanted it to taste very green. And asparagus and castelvetrano olives are lovely together, juicy and fresh.

Here’s Dolcissimo Sospiro (I think it means “sweet sighs”) sung by the remarkable Montserrat Figueras
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Roasted brussels sprouts with castelvetrano olives and walnuts

Brussel sprouts and castelvetrano olives

Brussel sprouts and castelvetrano olives

If The Ordinary had a poetical patron saint, it might be William Carlos Williams. I love so many of his poems and his ideas about poetry and art (as I’ve read and understood them) that I wish I could sit down and talk with him. Or maybe make a meal for him. I wonder if he likes brussels sprouts? I’d certainly serve plum tart for dessert! Williams was from New Jersey, home of The Ordinary. He was a pediatrician as well as a poet, and I’ve spoken in the past about how I like the idea of an artist having a grounding, regular job, and about how serving people as a profession seems to make one’s art more honest, warm, and resonant. Williams believed that poetry was important – necessary, even – to understand the chaos of life, and I’d agree that some form of creative outlet (as an artist or as an appreciator of art) is essential for a life well-lived. He chose as his subjects the ordinary and the every day, the regular people that he encountered as he moved through life. His language celebrates the rhythms of real speech as he heard it all around him, spoken by Americans, who were so close to the cadences and patterns of their words that they almost didn’t notice them. He was an innovator, not only in championing this entirely new, fresh form of American poetry, but also in introducing a variable foot and a triadic line break, based on his observations of the sound of the world around him – of his world. He was generous – he was a mentor to many younger poets, including Allen Ginsberg (also a Jersey boy!). He stressed the importance of the local – of appreciating and understanding your home and the ways that it shaped you – but he was not provincial. He studied and travelled abroad, and was fascinated by new ideas and new forms of art. I love poetry that seems simple, effortless and formless, but which is revealed, upon closer examination to be carefully, lovingly crafted, with attention to every small detail. I love the picture of Williams that I conjure as I read about him and read his poetry. He seemed a passionate, creative, warm and generous spirit. I love the fact that, in an era during which many artists thought of themselves as a superior, supersensitive class, he spoke about “common” people, and not in a deprecating, patronizing fashion, but as such a person himself, sharing his voice and his observations. His poems are spare and beautiful – frequently he describes a moment using images (not ideas but things) and odd particular details that convey far more meaning and emotion because we make the connections for ourselves.

Between Walls

the back wings
of the

hospital where
nothing

will grow lie
cinders

In which shine
the broken

pieces of a green
bottle

Salad of warm brussel sprouts

Salad of warm brussel sprouts

Speaking of bottle green, have you ever seen such a pretty salad? We bought a giant alien-looking sprig of brussels sprouts. I cut half of them from the stalk, roasted them, and tossed them with walnuts, arugula and castelvetrano olives, to make a sort of warm salad, or vegetable side dish. I dressed it with melted butter and balsamic. That’s right! A butter dressing for a salad. I thought it was ridiculously tasty – salty, juicy, and crunchy all at once. Even Isaac liked the brussel sprouts! I think they get a bad name, like many brassica, because they’re stinky if you broil them. But they’re lovely if you roast them!

Instead of a song, today, I’ll leave you with Williams reading his most famous poem.

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Chickpea stew with tomatoes, chard and castelvetrano olives

Chickpea, chard, castelvetrano stew

Isaac wants a baby orangutan for a pet, and so do I. Actually he just asked if I’d rather have an elephant, and I think I might rather. He’ll get the orangutan, and I’ll get the elephant. So we’re going to head down to the local animal shelter and see if we can find one of each. He’s home sort-of-sick from school, and watching a show about orphaned orangutans and elephants. They’re raised by humans and then returned to the wild. They’re all so beautiful you could cry! The shot of a herd of baby elephants, red with the dusty earth, running, eager, giant ears held high, following people with soccer balls, threw me for a loop. A loop, I tell you! The film centers on the two women that run the retreats. Rightfully so, I suppose, they’ve given their lives and probably lots of their money to these animals. David and I were thinking it would be interesting to see a movie about the people that work there, and care for the animals every day, as well. Orphaned animals can’t sleep alone. In the wild they cuddle with their mothers, and in this strange environment they have too many bad memories of why they became orphaned animals. There’s a shot of a man trying to sleep, with a baby elephant cavorting all around him. I well remember days of trying to cuddle a toddler to sleep. Can you imagine if the toddler weighed several hundred pounds?! And a scene with a woman cuddling a tiny baby orangutan, singing to him, and rubbing his tummy, as he frowns and struggles to keep his eyes open – well it kills me. I wonder what the lives of these people are like. Do they have children of their own? What strange hours they must work. What a demanding but rewarding job it must be! What kind of dreams do you have when you care for orphaned animals all day and night?

We’re back to stew season, here at The Ordinary! The evenings are drawing in, and it’s time for warm saucy meals. This particular stew extends the bridge between summer and fall. It’s full of fresh tomatoes and basil, chard from the farm, and a sweet roasted red pepper. And it has castelvetrano olives, which I love so much. They’re lovely and bright and juicy, and they’re very pretty with the tomatoes. I had mine with bulgarian feta crumbled on top, but if you leave that (and the bit of butter) out, you have a good vegan meal. Serve it with a salad and a loaf of crispy bread, and you’re golden.

Here’s Elephant Gun by Beirut. It’s a beautiful song, but it’s a sad story of elephant hunting, and it’s why these baby elephants are orphans.

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Chard, chickpea, and olive tart (with a citrus-quince glaze)

Chickpea & olive tart

Well, I was a little cranky yesterday! I had a small tantrum because we couldn’t find some place we used to go bird watching. I yelled at the boys everywhere we went. I yelled at them for making me yell at them. I yelled at them as we bought them giant cookies. And they weren’t being bad! They were happy, and noisy, and getting along with each other. But Isaac has this squeal – it’s very high-pitched, and it goes right through you. He resorts to it whether he’s very happy, indignant, or actually hurt. It signals panic either way. And Malcolm was being sweet and good, but why can’t he just walk? Why must he climb walls, jump off benches, press Isaac’s shriek & giggle buttons? Why! By evening-time I had to sit in the back yard and watch squirrels to try to rid myself of my cranky-induced headache. But I wouldn’t tell anybody about that! I’d talk about the good things – the Savory Spice shop we went to, which was completely wonderful! How sweet it was to see the boys excited about smelling all the spices! The beautiful place we found for a walk! The tart that I made for dinner, which I had literally dreamed of, which was a little odd, and which I might not have made if it wasn’t my birthday! Everybody being together on a beautiful day! How I got a beautiful new golden-amber bakelite watch and some perfectly claire-y pens and a blank notebook, which is the most inspiring thing ever! (From Modern Love)

I started watching a Masterpiece Theater version of The Portrait of Dorian Gray the other day, while I was exercising. (I jump around the living room holding two cans of beans while I catch up with The Daily Show on the computer. Isaac thinks this is hilarious! “You’re holding two cans of beans!!”) I love late Victorian novels – they’re so well-crafted and beautifully novelly. It was pretty well-done. It had Prince Caspian in it, and Mr. Darcy! And some guy named Ben who was familiar. It was a little dark and gloomy for early-morning-exercise-viewing. It had a lot of shocking Victorian nudity. (Masterpiece Theater wasn’t like that when I was a lass! When I was a lass, characters from televised versions of literary classics had the decency to keep their oddly-eighties-looking costumes on, thank you very much!!) When I thought about how cranky I was yesterday, but how I wouldn’t write about that part of the day, I had an idea for a modern version of Dorian Gray. What if there was somebody who had one of those mommy-blogs, or an advice column about parenting. What if they talked about their own lives in glowing, unrealistic terms. And then…all of the bad stuff they don’t write about manifests itself doubly in their real lives, until they all descend into a spiralling vortex of depravity and despair!! Bom bom bommmmmmmmmm.

So! This tart! I was quite excited about it. I had thought of having a tart with a base of chard and goat cheese and fresh basil, all mixed together till smooth and bright green. This would be poured into a crust which contained some zesty lemon zest and white pepper. And it would all be topped with chickpeas and olives, which would become, as it were, roasted, as they cooked. And poured over the whole thing would be a provocative glaze of quince jelly, lemon & lime zest, and lemon and lime juice, for a sweet/tart surprise. It was surprising, and I thought it was quite good – very summery. I mixed some sumac and smoked paprika in with the chickpeas, because I had just bought them at the savory spice store, and I was little-kid-excited about it. Isaac said he tasted three layers of flavor, which I thought was very bright and perceptive for a six-year-old.

I also roasted some potatoes, and we had them with lots of pepper and my new alderwood-smoked sea salt. (SMOKED SEA SALT!!) it was delicious!!

Here’s Bob Marley singing Corner Stone (a rare acoustic version!) I’ve been listening to this a lot lately, driving around, getting lost looking for bird watching places. I love it so much!
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Two spring salads

Asparagus castelvetrano salad

A big part of my brain is telling me to “just post the damn recipe, Claire!” But when have I ever listened to my brain? Rarely! So here we go…Yesterday I rambled on about nutella and sweets and American’s eating habits. Well, of course I have more to say on the subject. Let’s begin ten years ago. I worked in a bookstore. I was amazed at the number of diet books. And the number of weird diet books. Eat your colors, eat your horoscope, only eat carbohydrates, don’t eat carbohydrates, don’t eat green beans on Tuesday, eat only cheese and grapefruit, eat only chocolate chip cookies and cider vinegar. I joked, at the time, that I was going to write a book called “The DUH Diet.” There are some ideas about eating that just make sense (to me!), and they’re not new ideas or revolutionary ideas. They’re not eating habits that are difficult to live with. I love Satchel Paige’s Rules for Long Life, so I’m going to present a few of these commonplace, commonsense ideas in this form. (I should note that this applies mostly to Americans, because that’s mostly what I know.) Ready? Begin…

1. Enjoy every bite you eat. Don’t stuff something down your throat that you don’t really like the taste of–that you don’t really have a hankering for–just because it’s mealtime or you’re hungry or it’s sitting in front of you. It’s okay to feel hungry once in a while, as you wait for the food you really want. Most of us go through life snacking whenever our stomachs get a little grumbly. Let yourself feel hungry before a meal. It’ll wake you up! You’ll enjoy it more.

2. Drink lots of water. Good for every part of you.

3. Eat cookies and potato chips if you feel like it, but enjoy them. Eat a handful, not a bagful.

4. Satchel said avoid fried meats. I’d say avoid all meat, or try to go easy on it. Bad for the animal, bad for the planet, bad for your body, bad for your soul.

5. Never ever go to McDonalds or any other fast food restaurant, unless you need to use their toilet. Bad for the planet, bad for every part of you.

6. Enjoy rich foods, like buttery, cheesy savory pastries, but have that be a small part of your meal, and eat a big salad with it, or a big bowl of soup. Fill up on fruits and vegetables.

7. Satchel said “jangle gently as you walk,” which I love. Do it every day! Go for a walk, or a run, or jump around your living room. Get your heart beating, and your blood flowing.

I guess that’s it, for now. Sorry to get all preachy on you. But it’s all stuff everybody knows anyway, right? Duh.

Anyway, in the interest of loading up on vegetables, which is part of tenet number 6, let me tell you about these two salads. I make a salad almost every night, but I rarely talk about them because they’re gone before I can make a record of their existence.

These two seemed notable, though. The first had royal trumpet mushrooms. These had become a questing food for me ever since my friend Neil told me about them. Neil’s in Germany, and he called them “king trumpet.” I think the version we have in America is called “royal trumpet.” Either way, I found them, by accident, in a local market. The same market that had fiddleheads. It’s a magical market! I decided to keep it simple, this first time, so I sauteed them with rosemary and a bit of garlic, olive oil and balsamic. Then I put them on a salad with

Royal trumpet mushroom salad

spinach and arugula, and added a handful of chopped hazelnuts. And that was it! They were delicious. They became lovely and crispy. I’ll definitely be having these again. The second had bright green asparagus, bright green castelvetrano olives, capers, almonds and a little goat cheese. Simple and green and crunchy.

Here’s Louis Armstrong Tight Like That to go with the trumpet mushrooms. I think it’s such a perfect song!
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Fiddleheads!


Hellooooooooo!! Greetings from Shadfesterville. As I speak there’s a sea of people walking back and forth in front of my house. It’s shadfest! It used to be all about the fish, man. And then it was all about the art, man. And now it’s mostly about homemade soap and dog bandanas. It’s all good, though. An exciting weekend in our sleepy little town. I baked a ton of food to offer in our store, so if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by! And if you’re not, I’ll tell you all about it with recipes on Monday!!

So, not much time to write, at the moment, but I’m very very excited to have found fiddleheads. They’re so lovely. We ate them boiled till bright and tender-crisp, and tossed with a bit of butter and meyer lemon juice (yes, I will be putting meyer lemons on or in everything I eat until the bag is gone.) Then we chopped up some equally serpent-green castelvetrano olives and mixed those in. Bit of sea salt and pepper. Perfect!!

Here’s Desmond Dekker with the contagious Intensified Festival ’68.
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Black forbidden rice, black beluga lentils, roasted golden beets

Black rice, black lentils, golden beets

Sometimes, in life, you search for something. You look in all of the ordinary places your path takes you. You don’t find it. It becomes a quest. You go farther afield, you make special trips, just to find this thing. You ask the wise people you meet if they know where it can be found. You don’t find it. You find something similar, you tell yourself it’s the same, but in your heart you know it’s not. Then, one day, you’re looking for something else, perhaps in one of the places you’d already searched. And you stumble upon the very thing you were looking for all along. Thus it was with me and beluga lentils.

My friend Neil told me about them years ago. I’m a huge fan of all lentils, but these sounded exceptional, and I became determined to find them. To no avail. Neil lives in Germany, and it turns out that the Germans are several years ahead of us in lentil availability. I bought some urad dal, I thought it might be similar. Not so. Jump ahead a couple of years, and I found myself in Whole Foods. For me, Whole Foods is a forbidden land. Everything is too tempting and too beautiful and too expensive. I rarely go, and then only on precise pinpointed missions. I went this week to find golden beets (my new questing food!). Straight into produce, secure the beets, get out. But no – you have to walk all over the crazy store to get to the checkout. Of course I passed the castelvetrano olives. So pretty, so delicious. And then my greatest challenge. The bulk food aisle. Black rice! I haven’t had that since the Tibetan store closed down. The one with the nice man who used to give Malcolm little bags of black rice. Sigh. And then, a few bins down…BLACK BELUGA LENTILS!

As I walked to the checkout, grappling with all of my little bags of food and tubs of olives (I hadn’t gotten a basket. I wouldn’t need a basket, I was only buying one thing…) This recipe formed in my head. The colors! The flavors! The textures! We would have a sort of pilaf or warm salad, of black rice, black lentils, roasted golden beets, sauteed beet greens, castelvetrano olives and capers. (Malcolm’s first time knowingly eating a caper – he called them “flavor dynamite.”) All layered on a big plate of fresh baby spinach and topped with toasted hazelnuts. Part warm, part cool, a little smoky with Spanish paprika, a little sweet with oregano and basil, a little earthy with beets and sage. Finished with a tangy sweet balsamic and lots of black pepper. And rosemary roasted red bliss potatoes on the side. Delicious!

In the interest of keeping it ordinary, I should tell you that this would be very nice made with basmati rice and not-so-ugly-themselves french lentils and red beets.

I asked Neil to play guest DJ for this post. Here’s what he said…

“Recipe sounds big and brassy…so how about Bold and Black, an Eddie Harris composition played by Ramsey Lewis…from the album Another Voyage. Some smoky rhythm guitar, that sweet melody on Rhodes, and the wonderfully earthy drum riff which kicks off the groove section.” Perfect!!
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