Nothing makes me feel like I'm smugly going to avoid scurvy (she says, having only eaten pizza, Nerds, and beer all day) than eating a vegetable one time. Despite my wayward ways, I do actually love vegetables not simply because they keep me more or less alive, but because they're delicious and abundant and almost all of them taste incredible when they have heat applied to them followed by lots of olive oil.
I'm one week in back at work, and without casting aspersions on my work ethic (why cast aspersions when you can be frank: my work ethic is usually in the category of "reluctant yet non-existent, at best") it should be obvious enough that I'd much rather be on holiday. Who among us can say, etc etc. However, as with the chocolate brownies last week, I'm doing my best to improve upon last year's trend of bleak lunches, month in and out. From days of pot noodles, to seemingly endless bowls of plain couscous with butter and salt, to microwaved cheese sandwich (we're not allowed a toaster in the work kitchen. Oh, I know) I've decided I deserve better. By "better" I guess I mean "not having scurvy" but it's all part of life's rich tapestry, or something.
Simple though the concept is, I'm not always good at remembering to make a large enough dinner to allow for lunch leftovers the following day. That's where this Ottolenghi recipe for Mejadra, from his book Jerusalem, is useful - it uses such unstressfully-priced ingredients as lentils, rice, and onions, it's all cooked in one pan, and it makes a metric butt-ton. I hear you, that those ingredients aren't the first to spring to mind as examples of "whoa, alluring", but there's something in the crunchy-crisp fried onions, and the spices which find their way into the earthy lentils and rice, that is really rather wonderful.
I'm just going to link to Ottolenghi's recipe for Mejadra rather than write it out in full, because...oh, I'm very lazy. That's it, really. I told you my work ethic was found wanting.
I shall, however, heroically type out another Ottolenghi recipe that I made to go with the Mejadra - this is properly simple, both of ingredients list and execution, and while it doesn't sound like much it's super excellent. Fried slices of tomato, bursting at the seams with sweet ripeness, a little garlic and chili for, well, the flavour of garlic and chili, and plenty of soft, buttery olive oil...when we have tomatoes at such peak being-in-season-ness, there's not a lot that needs to be done to them. When they're at their most prolific, I kinda like to eat them like apples. For now, this fast recipe can help bolster up anything from toast, to scrambled eggs, to...to rice and lentils and onions.
fried tomatoes with garlic
from Yotam Ottolenghi's book Jerusalem.
three garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 a small hot chilli, finely sliced (I just used some sriracha as I was lacking a small hot chilli, or indeed a chilli of any size)
two tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
three large, ripe, firm tomatoes
two tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Mix the garlic, chilli, and parsley together in a small bowl, and set aside. Top and tail the tomatoes and slice thickly vertically - about 1.5cm thick, but like, whatever. Heat the olive oil in a pan and then fry the tomato slices, turning over after a minute or two. I used an enamel roasting dish that can be used on a stove top, but I suppose it's better the more surface area you have. It's just that my saucepan was being used for the Mejadra, and...enamel is cute. Add the garlic mixture, fry a little longer, and then serve.
It's the sort of thing that you could - and in fact probably already have - come up with yourself quite easily, but nevertheless, sometimes it's pleasingly comforting to be told what to do when cooking.
And straightforward as it is, this recipe is pretty spectacular. All sweet and spicy and rich, yet very simple and plain and unfancy.
And very fitting on a table full of potluck brunch. I'm trying something called luxterity (luxe + austerity) this year, where there's more care with spending (necessarily so) but in as elegant/dramatic/sybaritic a manner as we can manage (also necessarily so, because I like those things.) Having friends over for brunch saves a lot of money, is super fun, and there's nothing like an air of "pants are barely required because I'm in my own damn house" to add a frisson to your morning repast.
That's about it, really. This week has been very long yet very fast. Full of hangings-out (out-hangings?) and knitting (a hat) and reading (The Character of Rain/Amelie Nothomb; Are You My Mother?/Alison Bechdel) and watching (Pretty Little Liars and Practical Magic and all the new Beyonce videos again and again) and eating (endless Mejadra - that recipe really makes a lot; plus as many seasonal berries as I can find) and small but joyful things like that.
Also, I got a new beanie that I adore.
This isn't going to make my knitted hat any less fun of a project, for one thing, I intend to put a pom pom on top of that one. Wellington's weather has been monumentally horrible lately, so weird as it sounds to be thinking about warm hats in the middle of summer, that's what we're dealing with. I couldn't care less. As long as tomatoes continue being cheap for a while longer...so if nothing else, I can pre-load on vitamins to cover me during my next inevitable stretch of candy and sodium chloride.
title from: Mariah Carey, More Than Just Friends. Even when it's not the mid-nineties any more, Mariah still rules my heart and ears.
City Oh Sigh, Still Let Me In. Dreamy, too dreamy.
Joan Jett, Roadrunner. The original by the Modern Lovers is one of my very, very favourite songs. But hurrah for good covers, like this boisterous one by the babein' Jett.
next time: I may have a hat that says "witch" but I don't know everything. You'll find out when I do.