Monday, July 4, 2011

Déjeuner sur l'herbe

I can do without most Independence Day traditions, but eating en plein air is not one of them. Last Fourth of July, I made a picnic that included Moroccan carrot salad. This Fourth of July, I had a solo picnic lunch in the courtyard of my new building that included a layered purple carrot salad.

This is what purple carrots look like! They don't taste any
different (at least not to my untrained palate), but they are
aesthetically pleasing and no more expensive than regulars.
This is a peeled purple carrot.
Mandolined purple carrots, ready to be dressed.
I let the carrots sit in a shallot and tarragon vinaigrette while I made a pesto of lemon juice, sunflower seeds, chives, and carrot greens (after verifying in a cookbook (no Internet, remember?) that carrot greens aren't poisonous or disgusting or some such). I made a sort of layered dip using the carrots, pesto, and some goat cheese.

Of course, if there's a dip, there must be a chip, so I made some with the last farmers market potato, baking them in the oven rather than frying them.

These are easy to make, but only if you have a slicer. Only the
most seasoned of professionals could make slices this uniformly
thin without the aid of a slicing apparatus.

And then I took everything outside to eat. While I was chowing down, Gustav Holst’s Brook Green Suite came up on my iPod, and I was nearly bowled over by one of those vaunted “sudden rushes of nostalgia” that you read about in bad novels and worse food blogs (no delusions of grandeur here!). We played that piece in orchestra in middle and high school over and over. Life wasn’t actually simpler back then, but I was young enough to think it was, so I suppose my nostalgia was for that delusion; ignorance was, in quite a few ways, bliss. 

Oh, and I was wrong yesterday when I posted a picture of cats and said it was adorable. Compared to this, those cats look like Newt Gingrich.

Oven-baked potato chips

Thinly slice a potato using a mandoline or other slicing apparatus. Soak the slices in cold water for 10 to 15 minutes, drain, lightly salt the slices, and let them sit for another 5 minutes. Pat them dry and toss them in olive oil or spray them with olive oil spray. Sprinkle with pepper, other herbs or spices, and additional salt if necessary. Bake at 425 F for 15 minutes, rotating halfway through and removing any smaller or thinner slices that are done before the larger ones.

Carrot green pesto
Food process one very large bunch of carrot greens with 1/4 cup chives, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, the juice and zest of a lemon, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste.

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