03 June 2012

Tamar Adler's Roasted Vegetable Salad

I've done a bit of cooking the past few days. I made my version of this broccolini salad and brought it in a bowl with a big spoon and paper plates to a nearby farm-ish park where it was dished out and pleasantly consumed, I've toasted and torn up frozen whole wheat panazella, sauteed it with butter and salt for homemade croutons and poured them into leftover vegetables, toasted some nuts, soft-boiled eggs, put things in jars. In short, I've been reading Tamar Adler's book An Everlasting Meal, a fascinating encouragement to cook with grace and simplicity.

But right now, I'm going to, as Adler would suggest, start where I am. I am eating a salad for lunch, and there is a sunshower outside my window. It is a salad that, whether it meant to or not, integrated itself into the entire day. I woke up with Adler's advice to roast lots of vegetables at once and store them for the week, knowing their flavors don't diminish, but mature, after time, on my mind. So, sitting in a vacant kitchen after a morning cup of coffee, taking my eyes out of the glances I stole at her book again for just a moment, I did a quick survey. It is Sunday and I know I can spend the better part of that day in the kitchen if I pleased. But that is not Adler's point, nor my intention.

So I opened the vegetable drawer. There was a fennel bulb, some mache, whole carrots, herbs and fresh peas. Garlic and avocado sat on the counter top, almonds and goat cheese in the fridge. While this at first glance seemed like not a lot to work with, I felt slightly overwhelmed. I turned the oven on and preheated it to 400 degrees. I'd make the rest of the decisions later. 

Once you roast a few vegetables, and throw a garlic clove or two, unpeeled, on the pan as well, you're well on your way, Adler advises. You have your building blocks. And then, all you have to do is augment, cool, eat and/or store. I cooked peas in a little water and butter on the stove top, and let them cool along with the carrots, fennel and garlic, on the pan. Then I cubed a bit of avocado, dotted goat cheese and chopped toasted almonds. Lemon juice is all else it needs.These vegetables, once cooked, can sit at room temperature for the good part of the day if you forget about them, but once you remember them, store them in a jar in the fridge. And while your oven is hot and the vegetables cool, use the oven's heat for the making of something else, like toasting nuts or making some granola.

Tamar Adler's Roasted Vegetable Salad

Chopped veggies and a few garlic cloves in their skin
Olive oil
Sea Salt, pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes
Mache or other fresh greens
Accoutrements: cheese, chopped toasted nuts, fresh herbs, lemon zest, avocado
Peas if desired
Fresh lemon juice.

Begin by heating your oven to 400 degrees as you chop up veggies. Arrange by vegetable on rimmed pans. Douse them in a bit of oil, salt, pepper and bake them. Check after 10 minutes, and half way, sprinkle the pepper flakes, rotate pans if desired. Let cool in the pan on cooling rack, and sprinkle with herbs, toss.

When cool, store in fridge and/or use. Mix with greens, peas, avocados, toss with lemon juice, more salt if needed, cheese, nuts, avocados, croutons, etc.