It is so hot! Again!
Frankly I am enjoying this heat wave because it calls for plunging (as frequently as possible) into cold bodies of water. Which in case you don’t know me personally, is a favorite past-time of mine. I have been in Rhinebeck, NY for the last 4 days enjoying some downtime with my family and old friends. When I was in high school, I can’t say I was really able to appreciate home as much as I do now because I always felt a little out of place in school. I had a very small, very wonderful bunch of friends that made the time enjoyable but there was always a longing to “get out” as soon as possible.
Coming home a decade later, I feel a new love for this town as if I had met it for the very first time. Maybe it’s because the people who weren’t so nice back then, greet me with a big hug and genuine curiosity of my goings-on. Maybe it’s because I had aesthetic blinders on when I was a teenager, and didn’t realize how lush and magical my parent’s backyard is. Maybe it’s because I always kept my head down, and missed the pale blue ombre of mountains in the distance. Regardless of why I missed out on so much, I am grateful to have rediscovered it over the past couple years.
Sunset over the Hudson River, taken in Rhinecliff
There are several things I love to make when I am home during the summer, and most of them carry some sort of nostalgia. One is from a brilliant little restaurant in a neighboring town, one was introduced to me by a good friend from high school, and the last one I discovered a few summers ago and can’t get enough.
Raw Kale Salad
Recipe by Chef Francesco Buitoni of Mercato in Red Hook, NY
I worked at Mercato during the summer of 2011, and couldnt get enough of this kale salad. It is so incredibly delicious for something that is SO healthy.
The toasted pine nuts elevate it BIG TIME. Don’t skip ’em.
6 ounces Toscano or Lacinato kale, stems removed
3 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons golden raisins
Champagne or white wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely grated pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for shaving
1 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
1. Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over low heat, until slightly browned, about 7 to 8 minutes. Set aside.
2. Strip the kale leaves from stems (you can use a knife, but it’s easy to do by hand).
2. Roll kale leaves into a bundle and chop very fine (chiffonade).
3. In a large bowl, combine the strands of kale, pine nuts and raisins.
4. Add sea salt and toss with your hands.
5. Add vinegar to the salad slowly (just enough to coat ingredients) and toss again. The vinegar will dissolve the salt.
6. Slowly add just enough olive oil to coat ingredients; toss again.
7. Add finely grated pecorino cheese and toss. Adjust dressing if needed.
To serve, pile salad on a small plate and top with a few shavings of pecorino.
My friends from high school, Clara and Aliza, came to visit me in Rocky Point last summer. She prepared her friend Kate’s shaved zucchini salad and I have been eating it non-stop ever since. It always takes me back to that weekend we spent mostly eating. Sitting at a table, eating delicious things, and enjoying their company will always be a fond memory.
Shaved Zucchini Salad
- 3 medium or 2 large zucchini, shaved lengthwise into ribbons
- juice of half a lemon
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- shaved parm
- Mix 4 Tbsp. mayo and 2 tsp. cumin.
- Spread each ear with 1 TB. mayo mixture
- Roll each ear in crumbled Cotija cheese.
- Sprinkle with chopped cilantro & crack a little pepper on each.