Greens, potatoes, & tomatoes AND patatas bravas with almond aioli

Patatas bravas

My friend Laura recently posted a picture of her son jumping into a swimming pool. He looks wonderfully happy, as boys do jumping into swimming pools. You can see his shadow on the water. He’s in the air! I love photographs like that – especially old, pre-digital photographs. How thrilling it would be to get your photos back from the lab, or develop them yourself, and find this impossible shot in which you’d captured someone that you love floating in the air. Your dog, leaping happily. Your child, jumping from one thing to another, so proud of their ability. Children love to be off the ground, between one thing and another, dizzyingly suspended between worlds – jumping on a bed, jumping into water, jumping from a tree branch. It feels like capturing an ecstatic moment. In Charles Burnett’s remarkable movie Killer of Sheep, there’s one beautiful scene that shows children jumping from rooftop to rooftop over head. The whole sequence is one of the most striking I’ve seen on film. And Mos Def used a still from the movie for the cover of The Ecstatic! It’s such a perfect picture for a perfect title for a perfect album that I can’t really add anything! People and animals in mid-air! Photos that capture youth, and happiness, and motion – they catch time while it’s passing.

There’s something very summery about the photos, maybe because, like summer, they seem to last forever and they’re over in an instant. If a recipe can capture a moment of summer, and I like to think that it can, surely it would have tiny potatoes and tomatoes and basil! And here we have two very easy, very summery side dishes. One is straight out of the CSA box – beet greens, chard, green garlic, tomatoes, and tiny potatoes. Is there anything more pleasing than small potatoes, boiled whole, and tossed with butter and herbs, and seasoned with salt and plenty of pepper? We used tarragon, because it’s nice with potatoes and we have it growing in our garden. But you could use any mix of herbs you like. This is a good way to use up the beet greens when you make beet dogs. I used a mix of beet greens and chard (very pretty, both!) and made a quick summery sauce of fresh tomatoes, basil, and garlic. While it’s hot you toss it with boiled potatoes, little cubes of mozzarella and pine nuts. The heat from the greens melts the cheese, and it’s all very nice. The other dish is my version of the Spanish tapas dish patatas bravas, which is crispy potatoes over a spicy tomato sauce, topped with garlicky aioli. Ever since I made almond aioli, I’ve wanted to try it with this, and it turned out really good! I made a slow-cooked tomato sofrito as the base, and you can use fresh or canned tomatoes for this.

Here’s Faye Adams Shake a Hand, from Killer of Sheep.
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Soup Meagre

Soup Meagre is from the 18th century, and I don’t think there’s a definitive recipe, but to my knowledge (or in my imagination!) it’s a sort of hodgepodge of any green thing you can find. A spring tonic! Or, for my family this week, a fall tonic. There’s a lovely sort of cycle to the CSA that we belong to. It starts and ends with greens. Lots and lots of greens. Lettuces; spinach; arugula; wild, bitter little leaves. The autumn greens tend to be coarser and more bitter than the spring greens, but once you cook them they mellow out in no time. I think this is a pretty soup, and it’s surprisingly substantial, and wonderfully delicious. I always add yellow split peas, because they’re tasty, have a nice texture, and make a flavorful broth. But you can leave them out, or add any kind of legume you like.

Here’s Yo La Tengo’s beautiful Green Arrow, which sounds like a spring or fall evening, just at dusk.
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