So this was an interesting week at the South Bronx Food Coop. Aside from the thermometer hitting 107, one of our board members went AWOL, leaving the remaining staff in a lurch. As part of my government sanctioned capacity-building duties there, I developed and organized (can you tell I’m in resume mode?) a member skill-share cooking class. We’ve had all kinds of stuff from Ital stew to healthy Mediterranean snacks and hors d’oeuvres. Tuesday was supposed to be how to make your own sofrito, but when Mr. No-Show abandoned ship, I took a leaf from mama’s book and hit the fridge for inspiration. Earlier that day, our farmer dropped off some sexy spinach—can you tell I‘m spending too much time at a food co-op?—candy onions, fresh herbs and raspberries. Here’s what materialized:
Co-op Summer Spinach Salad Cooking Demo
makes enough for about 10 people to have a small taste
2 Valencia Oranges, zested and cut into supremes, keep the juice for the dressing
1 small box of fresh raspberries
1 candy onion very thinly sliced, tossed in apple cider vinegar
1 bunch spinach chopped into salad-appropriate sizes
.4 lbs (these are co-op measurements) raw walnuts
Leaves from ~5 sprigs fresh oregano (this oregano was very tall, broad leaved and mild)
.3 lbs sugar snap peas, julienned
Apple cider vinegar
It was really quite beautiful with the orange, dark and light greens, red and white. The guests also really liked the soaking onions in vinegar trick, which tones down the strong raw onion flavor and brings out their sweetness. I noted that one could make this a more substantial meal by throwing in some cheese, fish or chicken leftovers. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I saved the day, but it was pretty popular and deliciously refreshing. Go me…and mom for the slightly frantic phone consultation.
I’ve been living on salads lately because cooking in my un-air conditioned railroad apartment is more torture than I‘m willing to endure. My best friend from high school brought me a beautiful basil plant for my birthday which I’ve already started harvesting for tomato salad. It aint summer till this one rolls around, and is really so basic that it’s barely worth the recipe, but here it is just in case. I know it’s hard, but this one is best if you let it sit for a bit for the flavors to marry.
Summer Tomato Salad
2 large summer tomatoes, chopped
3 tops plucked from the basil plant, chopped coarsely
4 or as many cloves of garlic you can stand, thinly sliced
Believe me, I know that the word “salad” to some evokes images of women starving themselves eating mountains of nutritionally devoid iceberg lettuce or the totally uninteresting chef’s salad that’s the restaurant’s excuse to make the meal more expensive, but it doesn’t have to be this way! Have these on hand to beef up a salad when it’s *almost* too hot to eat: Anchovies, sardines in olive oil, avocados, roasted peppers, any of earth’s great bounty of cheese and wholegrain Wasa crispbreads. Of course there’s really no replacing hot crusty Italian bread fresh from the bakery but if you can’t find that in your hood, Wasa makes for cheap, long-lasting hearty bread in a pinch, and it’s great if you need to feed a hungry vegan who only ate guacamole all day. Stay cool.
UPDATE July 23, 2010: I would like to apologize to the board member mentioned in this post. It was later brought to my attention that he was sick and did not in fact “abandon ship.” — Lily