rainbow veg + house vin
How are you? Everyone survive January OK? I know I've been quiet over here for a while...
January seems to drive people into an intense frenzy of healthy eating, resolutions, and vats on vats of kale smoothies. This year in particular I was struck by the intense messaging blaring from every media source: you're fat! Lose weight! You need to lose weight and become less fat! Your body is disgusting and you need to be punished for that!!!!! Woof. It's a bit much.
That being said, I've always loved the January issue of every food magazine, because the food and recipes they contain are most in line with how I like to eat year round: vegetable forward, not so heavy on rich desserts/baking, everything's not covered in bacon, fried, smothered in cheese sauce, etc. So I have mixed feelings I suppose.
This year January has been extraordinary for me: in the beginning of the month I packed my bags, took a hiatus from work, and flew to San Francisco for an extended stay. Leading up to this trip I poured my frantic energy into crafting a rather long list of projects I wanted to focus on / work on / complete during this time, this 7 week stay in SF. I was hoping to be blogging basically constantly. I didn't realize until I stopped working and took a step away from the dark winter in Seattle just how badly I needed a break.
So. I haven't been as “productive” as maybe I'd hoped. But it has been an incredible opportunity to slow down, to explore. It's been a good incubation period. And I have been working on some cool stuff, too- which I will share more about in the future. For now, I'm back! To talk about vegetables, mostly, as is my way.
Rainbow Veggie Platter.
So. The cornerstone of my emerging food philosophy is to focus on vegetables (you may have caught on to this by now if you're extra perceptive). What I mean by this specifically is that instead of focusing on what I want to eat less of, I like to focus on what I want to eat more of (vegetables, duh) with the understanding that the more vegetables I eat the less space I'll have in my tummy for deep fried bacon wrapped chocolate lasagna. Or whatever.
So, I'm always looking for ways to make eating vegetables fun and exciting, new and fresh. One strategy that I love: make it beautiful! This particular platter is a combination of farmers market finds (yay California!) and grocery store staples (even here cucumbers aren't in season in January). I'm all for eating local seasonal, BUT, I don't think you're a bad person if you don't adhere to it religiously. Buying produce that you like, that is beautiful and fun, is going to make you more likely to eat it. If it's in season at the farmers market, fantastic. If you have to pop by the store for a tomato or avocado once in a while, go for it! Also, sometimes the fancier, prettier veggies are a little more expensive, I'll admit. I'm all for frugality (trust me) but again, if it will make me excited to eat a big ol' plate of vegetables for lunch, I think it's worth it to spring for the watermelon radishes or the colorful mini heirloom tomatoes. Artfully laying out a beautiful plate of food is deeply enjoyable and satisfying. And so is digging in! I served these veggies with a variation on my house dressing made with blood limes (hence the vibrant color). I also served hard boiled eggs, hummus, and mini whole wheat pita on the side. We dipped, we spread, we drizzled dressing. Of course the dressing can also be drizzled over the top of everything and you can eat it like a more conventional salad. For that matter you could chop the greens, mix it all together and go for a more rustic look. Whatever floats your boat.
Formula for House Vinaigrette
Take a clove of garlic, grate in on a microplane into a small bowl. You could also use a garlic press for this. Crushed is the texture you're going for. You can always grate on a small regular grater or finely mince, you'll have a slightly chunkier dressing.
Next, take a fresh citrus. Lemon or lime is perfect. Meyer lemon, blood lime, or some other fancy citrus if you're feeling exotic. Orange or grapefruit would be lovely, too. Grate a little of the zest into the bowl using your microplane, if you like (this step is optional). Next, roll your citrus on the counter a few times to get it all broken up and juicy inside. Now cut it in half and squeeze it into the bowl. I like to use a small fine mesh strainer for this step to ensure I don't get any seeds in there. If you don't have one, you might want to squeeze the juice into a separate bowl, pick out any seeds, and then add the juice to your dressing. Or just go ahead and squeeze into your dressing, and be prepared to pick seeds out after.
Taste the juice. If it's not very acidic (especially if you used an orange, grapefruit, or other sweeter citrus), add a good splash of vinegar. Apple cider or red wine are both lovely. Use whatever you like.
Next, add a good pinch of kosher salt and a good grind of black pepper. Give the mixture a little stir.
Now it's time to add the olive oil. I usually don't bother to drizzle while I whisk- instead I just add a good couple of glugs of olive oil, and give the whole thing an enthusiastic whisk. Taste by dipping a lettuce leaf into the mixture. If it's still too acidic, add more olive oil until you like the balance. Add more salt and pepper as needed. Optional: whisk in a small dab of honey before adding the olive oil. Just a touch of sweetness can help smooth out the flavors and the texture of honey helps keep things emulsified.
If the dressing separates just give it a good stir before serving. Leftovers can be kept in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator for at least a week. Recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for larger batches. If making a larger batch, it never hurts to break out the blender and toss everything in there.
For a variation, try adding a pinch of your favorite spice or spice mix: curry, cumin, coriander, garam masala, chili powder, and turmeric are all good options.
Now go forth and pour it on everything! .....especially vegetables.
And now, some more highlights from January...
From top left to bottom right:
A #shelfie of my cookbook collection... actually only part of my collection! There are two more shelves plus random piles here and there throughout my home.
Some beautiful succulents in Bernal Heights, San francisco.
A big salad with farmer's market greens, cucumber, tomato, and herbed goat cheese. Served with my house dressing at a family dinner.
Citrus at the Alemany Farmer's Market.
Rainbow Veggie Platter.
Stunning huevos rancheros cooked up for me by Dear Friend Masha!
Well, that's all for now folks! Have a lovely February. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!