pecorino romano

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.

tomato salad with red onions, capers, and pecorino

autumn, salads, summer, vegetarianFieldandForestComment
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It took a very long time for our garden's tomatoes to begin ripening, but three of our plants have started coming-of-age as of late.  Our current MVP is a yellow and pale orange tomato that grows to the size of a slightly smushed softball; it seems like every day we rescue another fruit about to tear itself from the plant with its weight, and they've proven to be excellent keeping tomatoes so we don't shy away from picking them even when they won't be eaten for a number of days. Sadly, the stakes we had in front of each plant are faded or have been redistributed by Lucca, so I don't actually remember the name of the variety (they are yellow with a peach-colored star pattern on the blossom end... Bueller?  Bueller?).  I just call them Tequila Sunrise Butt tomatoes in my head.  And sometimes out loud.

This recipe is one of those ones you make when you look at the tomatoes on your counter and think "what the pajamas am I going to do with these."  I'll tell you what you're going to do.  You're going to grab the jar of capers that sits in your fridge for such emergencies, dice up a lonely red onion, and crumble the end of a wedge of Pecorino Romano and you're gonna make some MAGIC.

Salad magic, that is.

Mix and match ingredients and kinds of tomatoes depending on what you have on hand.  No white balsamic?  White wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, or even lemon juice would be delicious.  No red onion?  Shallots or chives would be lovely (as would green onion, but I'd reduce the quantity a bit so it doesn't smack you too hard in the face).  If you want to be fancy, of course you can shave the cheese if you prefer, but I happen to like the rustic quality of broken crumbles of pecorino.  Not to mention there is something so decadent about eating large pieces of sharp aged cheese, and the fact that there are a limited number of pieces in the salad makes the times you do bite into the cheese extraordinarily flavorful.

Tomato Salad with Red Onion, Capers, and Pecorino Romano
serves 2-4

1/2 cup finely diced (1/4 inch dice at largest) red onion
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
large pinch kosher salt (about 1/3-1/2 teaspoon)
2 grinds black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 pounds total mixed heirloom tomatoes, sliced and cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup crumbled Pecorino Romano, or other hard sheep's milk cheese

Place the onion in a small bowl, and add the vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Let it sit for 2-3 minutes so the salt has time to dissolve and the onion absorbs a little of the seasoning.  Add the olive oil, mix to combine, and set aside.

Arrange the tomatoes on a serving platter or individual plates.  Spoon the dressing evenly over the tomatoes.  Scatter the capers over the dressing, and top with the crumbled Pecorino Romano.  Serve immediately.

Serving Suggestion (omnivorous): include as a topping on a steak sandwich with arugula, or as a relish over a pan-seared steak or grilled salmon (you may choose to omit the cheese if you serve this over fish, as fish and cheese are not always friends).

Serving Suggestion (vegetarian): serve over grilled eggplant and summer squash and alongside polenta.