FIELD & FOREST

greens

mujaddara, summer edition (with roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, basil, and lemon)

breakfast, dinner, lunch, main dishes, salads, summer, vegetarianFieldandForestComment

What can I say about mujaddara...

If Mujaddara were a person, and I took him as my +1 to a party, he would not necessarily be the most attractive person there, or the tallest, or the most athletic, but he would be the snappiest dresser and get along with everyone and he would be an amazing dancer and he would tell the funniest jokes and everyone would be like, "oh, Mujaddara, you're so funny," and Mujaddara would be all "I know, right?" but not in a narcissistic way, because that's just not the kind of person Mujaddara is.

And, if this was your party, Mujaddara would also stay late to help you wash the dishes, and maybe drive the random dude that passed out on your carpet back to wherever he came from (which is likely across town because it is a law of the universe that a random dude will always pass out an inconveniently far distance from his house) and give him a box of saltines and a ginger ale from the stash that Mujaddara keeps in his car for just such occasions, because Mujaddara doesn't care who you are, he just wants you to feel great.

Mujaddara is pretty much the perfect addition to any party, and you would be happy to have met him. He would have helped you to have a great time, and you would invite him back in the future. And I would probably be in your good graces for bringing Mujaddara along in the first place.

Mujaddara
Serves 4-6 as a vegetarian main course, or 8-12 as a side dish

I like bringing things like Mujaddara to potlucks and collaborative dinner parties, because you just never know what's going to be at a potluck. I have been to a dinner potluck where every person (including me!) brought cheese and crackers. Let's not do that again! This dish will quickly serve as either a hearty side or vegetarian main dish, seamlessly filling any gap in your dinner party. Not to mention that it tastes fantastic at room temperature, making it the perfect dish for picnics or events where the official meal time is unclear. It's just the best!

Cooking notes: you can make this with any kind of rice or leftover rice, but jasmine has a really nice flavor for this dish. Cooking the jasmine rice with a glug of olive oil will help the grains remain separate, which means they can be more easily mixed with the lentils and onions.

2 cups cooked beluga lentils (about 1 cup uncooked)
2 cups cooked jasmine rice (about 1 cup uncooked)
2 medium yellow onions, caramelized (instructions below)
1 cup cooked greens (I sautéed some finely sliced kale leaves in olive oil and garlic), optional
salt, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
1 pint mixed cherry, grape, and/or pear tomatoes, roasted (instructions below), and divided
1/3 cup chopped pistachios, divided
2 ounces soft goat cheese (I used chevre)
1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves
Piment d'espelette or hot paprika, to taste (optional)

In a large bowl, combine the lentils, rice, caramelized onions, and greens. Add salt and lemon juice to taste, and mix gently using your hands (so you don't break the rice grains). This lentil/rice/onion combo is what is known as Mujaddara.

Add half of the roasted cherry tomatoes and half of the pistachios to the bowl, again mixing gently with your hands to combine. Transfer to a serving dish. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the dish for up to 3 days. (The pistachios will soften a bit during this time, but the dish will still be very tasty.)

Just before serving, scatter the remaining roasted tomatoes and pistachios over the Mujaddara, then crumble the goat cheese over the tomatoes and pistachios. Finely chiffonade the basil leaves, and scatter them over the Mujaddara. Finish with a sprinkle of piment d'espelette or hot paprika for color and heat.

For basic caramelized onions: peel and halve the onions, and thinly slice from top to tail. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a cast iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium low heat, and add the onions, tossing to evenly coat them in the fat. Cook over medium low heat until their texture is meltingly soft, about 15-20 minutes. Once soft, sprinkle with a good pinch of kosher salt and crank up the heat to medium-high. Keep an eye on the onions and stir frequently, allowing them to brown and color. Once the onions are a deep amber in color, deglaze the pan with a little water (or white wine) to scrape up any tasty caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan. Let the water cook most of the way off (the onions may still look slightly wet), and transfer to a bowl to cool. The onions may be made up to a day in advance of making the Mujaddara.

For the roasted tomatoes: preheat the oven to 400˚F. Halve the tomatoes, and place in a single layer on a silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and gently toss with your hands to evenly coat. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until the tomatoes are slightly wrinkled and reduced in size. Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool. The tomatoes are best roasted on the day that you plan to make the Mujaddara.

Other serving ideas: - top with chicken or steak kabobs for a heartier dinner - top with a fried egg, avocado, and hot sauce for breakfast or brunch (I do this with Mujaddara leftovers) - add roasted or grilled squash or replace the cooked greens with arugula (added just before serving).

(On an unrelated note, can we all agree that my friend Vanessa has the most amazing wine stopper you have ever seen?)

kale and brussels sprout salad with chickpeas, almonds, and pecorino

autumn, salads, vegetarian, winterFieldandForest2 Comments

If you are what you eat, then I am currently cookies. Every holiday season, I go on a bit of a bender as I try to get my fill of chocolate dreidels and pepperkaker, and this winter was no exception. And while I enjoyed every crumb to the fullest, I am, shall we say, not feeling super-duper amazing as a result. Maybe you are in that boat, or an adjacent one. Perhaps you are currently cake, or pie, or candy. Or perhaps you are smoothies, in which case, maybe you should stop reading this and go get a cookie?

As my New Year's present to you, I give you the dish that I turn to when my body feels meh and I need a pick-me-up. Every time I eat it, I think "This is exactly what I want to be eating right now." No joke. I have even had this for breakfast with eggs and toast. In fact, I would recommend that you try that exact breakfast sometime! I have a hunch that it will make you feel awesome for the rest of the day.

Sidenote: The above photos are of me doing one of my favorite things in the world, which is simultaneous reading cookbooks/writing/eating. Richard just looked at the second picture and said, "I wonder if anyone will comment on how weirdly you hold a pen." I guess we'll find out, won't we?

Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Chickpeas, Almonds, and Pecorino
adapted from Epicurious; serves 2 as a main course, or 4 as a side salad

2-3 small garlic cloves, minced or finely grated with a rasp (microplane)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon (preferably Meyer) juice
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
generous pinch (1/2 teaspoon) kosher salt
2-3 tablespoons olive oil (I prefer my dressing on the brighter side, so I usually use 2 tablespoons)
1 bunch lacinato (dino) kale, washed, stems removed, and thinly sliced
1/2 pound brussels sprouts, cleaned of outer leaves and tough bottoms, and thinly shaved or sliced
2 cups cooked chickpeas (approximately 1 can) OR 1 1/2 cups cooked French or Beluga lentils
1/4 cup sliced almonds, fried in a little olive oil until golden brown and sprinkled with a pinch of kosher salt
scant (or, if you're me, generous) 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or other sharp, aged cheese

In the bowl in which you plan to serve the salad, combine the minced or grated garlic, lemon juice, mustard, and salt.  Whisk briefly, and let sit for 5 minutes to mellow the garlic and let the salt dissolve.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking continuously. Continue to whisk after the oil is added until the dressing thickens. Set aside.

Add the kale and brussels sprouts to the bowl, and toss to evenly coat with the dressing. Using your hands, give the leaves a few brief squeezes, like you're massaging the shoulders of someone you like.  You'll notice the leaves soften slightly; this is a good thing!

Add the chickpeas or lentils and almonds, and toss to combine.  Add the pecorino, and toss to evenly coat the salad with the cheese.  While this is best served immediately, it keeps extremely well; pack leftovers (if any) in an airtight container and eat for lunch the following day.

heirloom tomato caprese with late-summer peaches

salads, summer, vegetarianFieldandForestComment
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high uintas wilderness 1 I am having a hard time writing today.  I keep looking at this picture from our trip two weeks ago and wishing I could be outside.  I've been having this kind of mental itch at work whenever I look out the window that somehow I'm doing something wrong since I'm IN HERE and not OUT THERE.  I usually have to walk to another building whenever I have a meeting, and this morning it was all I could do not to detour to the little patch of slanted grass west of my office and take a tiny snooze in the sun.   Lucca has been scratching at the door in the mornings to go outside and lay on the deck where he'll do this twisty stretch on his back and stick his legs out in all directions and fall asleep soaking up the warmth and the light.  I am very happy that he's so happy, but it is awfully hard to walk past someone who looks like that on your way to work and not feel insanely jealous.  Even if that someone is a dog.

When did it become normal for us to sit at desks all day?  When did we start trying to build spaces for ourselves to work that shut us off from nature and light and people?  When did we create tasks for ourselves that mean everything and nothing?  How long do we go between experiencing things that are real and good and make us (really madly truly) happy?  How do we support each other and encourage each other to take a moment each day to breathe and soak in the sun?

When the voices in our heads started shouting those questions too loudly, we packed four people, two dogs, and some climbing gear into our car and drove due East into the Uintas.  It was a spur-of-the-moment trip, and we left later than we would have liked, but we needed trees and air and space.  Lucca was beside himself with happiness when we finally stopped the car and began hiking toward the crag.  He made his big toothy shark face and rolled himself around in the brush and made his drowning cat noises (which are very harsh and grating but also some of my favorite sounds in the world).  We climbed just a little, hiked a lot, camped at the end of a long, unmarked road, ate wild raspberries and burritos and campfire peach and blackberry cobbler, and fell asleep listening to the rain on our tent.

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We're waiting for the next time we can escape, but in the meantime we're celebrating being at home by eating the season and eating well.  Our tomatoes have finally begun to blush purple and red, and the chickens have been so distracted by the goji berry and fat grasshoppers that we've rescued most of the tomatoes before they've been discovered.  We eat them like apples, on sandwiches, or in this salad.

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HEIRLOOM TOMATO AND MOZZARELLA SALAD WITH LATE-SUMMER PEACHES

1-2 pounds of mixed heirloom tomatoes 2-3 large ripe, yellow peaches 2-3 large handfuls mixed greens 1/2 pound mozzarella or burrata cheese, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices olive oil balsamic vinegar flaky salt freshly ground black pepper 8-10 fresh basil leaves, sliced into chiffonade (stack the leaves and then roll them like a cigarette and thinly slice them cross-wise into ribbons)

Have two plates ready for serving individual portions of salad.

Cut the tomatoes into a mixture of wedges and 1/2-inch thick slices and set aside.  Slice the peaches in half and remove the pits.  Cut each half into 4-6 wedges and set aside.

Distribute 1/3 of the tomato wedges and slices on each of the plates, then distribute 1/3 of the peach wedges onto the tomatoes.  Divide the greens evenly between the two plates, covering the tomatoes and peaches.  Scatter the remaining tomato wedges (reserve the tomato slices) and peach wedges over the greens.  Place a tomato slice on each of the salads, then overlap with a slice of mozzarella, repeating until all of the slices have been used.

Drizzle the salad with as much olive oil and balsamic vinegar as you like, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Top with the basil chiffonade and serve immediately.

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