Monday, March 30, 2009

Windy Monday Lunch

It has been a crazy week with my friend George visiting from out of town. I woke up relatively early this morning and the apartment was completely silent for what seems like the first time in months. An empty apartment can be a comforting one especially if you want to relax and gather your chi with some solo time. I was also craving a delicious lunch when I woke up this morning; a meal only myself would enjoy after entertaining and serving as tour guide for the majority of the past week. The first dish of my incredibly filling and scrumptious lunch was an inversion of a classic. BLT’s, or bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches for those of you who have tragically missed out, are delicious indeed. I initially thought to make BLT’s but wanted an alternative that would grant me the opportunity to use the leftover salad greens that have been accumulating in my fridge. BLT salad sounded like a great idea and so I threw all the familiar faces into a bowl tossed with cider vinaigrette. Believe me it took all I had not to rush out and buy a wedge of Roquefort or Cambozola to crumble on top. Frisee, iceberg, and mixed greens made up the lettuce while bacon and burst tomatoes completed the acronym. I also added some homemade paprika croutons made from a loaf of Pugliese bread tossed with olive oil and smoked paprika. The salad was absolutely delectable with sweet tangy dressing, smoky bacon, and crunchy lettuce.

The second dish I made for my lazy afternoon lunch at home was a tuna and chickpea salad with gremolata. Gremolada is a traditional Italian herb accompaniment to braised meats and seafood dishes made of garlic, parsley, and lemon zest. My father used to make this dish frequently at our country house in France, inspired by a luscious Tuscan salad found in trattorias all over Italy. Tuna partners smashingly with lemon and fresh herbs, which is where I drew my inspiration for the gremolata in this dish. I tried to use ingredients that commonly accompany fish or seafood in Italian, French, and other Mediterranean cuisines. The gremolata in this dish is made with parsley, oregano, mint, capers, roasted red pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, and kosher salt. All of these compliment fish and lend their aroma to seafood dishes perfectly. This is a filling salad chalk full of protein with a bright herbal flavor heralding the arrival of spring. I often cook with fresh herbs, a distinctive feature of my cuisine. Herbs, seasonings, and sauces are what I work with most, paying careful attention to the dynamic between flavors and presentation. As always, I encourage you to enjoy and share delicious food and home cooked meals with yourself and others!

Tuna, Chickpea, And Gremolata Salad
Serves 2

1 19 oz. Can of Chickpeas
1 5 oz. Can of Light Tuna in Olive Oil
1/2 C. Italian Parsley
1/4 C. Oregano
1/4 C. Mint
2 Roasted Red Peppers, fresh or jarred, drained
6-8 Large Caper Berries
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Tsp. Kosher Salt

1. Drain and rinse chickpeas and transfer to a large bowl. Drain tuna well of excess oil and crumble in chunks over chickpeas.
2. Combine remain ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until coarsely diced and well combined, resembling pesto.
3. Toss tuna and chickpeas with gremolata mixture, stir well, and serve immediately.

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