June 29 – July 5, 2020
Monday: Bacon with Warm Wilted Greens / Leftover Chicken
Tuesday: Pasta Puttanesca
Wednesday: Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Prosciutto
Thursday: Couscous Bowl with Tahini Dressing
Friday: Pizza: One Margherita, One Sausage and Shallot
Saturday: Chicago Hot Dogs with Cole Slaw – Hummus with Pita
Sunday: Dinner with Michelle, Emily and Billy Apps – Ricotta with Crudités – Pepperoncini di Calabria, Barbecued Chicken, Cole Slaw, Jane’s Baked Beans, Candied Peaches with Ice Cream
In my, apparently parochial existence, I have never met a fanatical vegetarian or vegan. I suppose the species exists – the Bill McKibbens of this world who translate conclusions about livestock growing practices into moral strictures – but I think, for the most part, there are simply people who prefer vegetables or eating light and those who prefer meat. (I do know some dedicated meat-and-potatoes types – Uncle Rick, Counselor Tim – though to call them fanatical would be to confuse taste with addiction.)
*Indians and others who grew up on vegetarian diets don’t count here. My Indian business partner has no problem with my carnivorous approach to business dinners.
Do, in a spirit of compromise – all too rare in this age of Covid and Trump – I offer you a recipe which will satisfy both vegetarians and carnivores. A wonderful salad enriched with cooked-down onions and balsamic, roasted tomatoes and crisply sautéed prosciutto or pancetta, lightened by fresh baby lettuce and a squeeze of lemon juice and perfected by a judicious sprinkling of coarsely ground black pepper. Add some crostini with melted parmesan, and you have a dinner that John Wayne would enjoy. Hold the prosciutto and the Dalai Lama would be sent to Nirvana by your creation. But take my advice – use the prosciutto, enjoy your greens and send your thanks by commenting on this post.
Pancetta (or Prosciutto or Bacon), Arugula (or mixed lettuces), and Roasted Tomato Salad
(adapted from Alex Guarnaschelli’s The Home Cook)
The keys to the richness of this salad – what makes it a main course – are the roasted tomatoes and the sautéed onion cooked down with balsamic. In other words, you can hold the prosciutto, if you wish, and you will still feel full when you push back from the table.
Timing: 45 minutes
Ingredients: Serves 4
Thinly sliced Pancetta or Prosciutto (in a pinch, bacon will do)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Small red onion, grated
12 oz arugula leaves or mixed lettuces
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon confectioner’s sugar (that’s right – don’t forget this)
1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves, grated (I used 1)
Preheat oven to 350 F
Halve the tomatoes
Get the other ingredients out and lined up – except for the pancetta or prosciutto, if using since the slices are easier to separate when refrigerated.
Roast the tomatoes:
Place the tomatoes in a single layer, cut-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet.
Whisk together the sugar, the Maldon salt and 3 tablespoons of the olive
oil. Drizzle this over the tomatoes and roast until tender – about 17
minutes. Set the sheet pan with the tomatoes aside to cool.
Cook the pancetta (prosciutto or bacon) and make the dressing:
Heat the canola or vegetable oil in a skillet over medium. In batches,
cook the pancetta or prosciutto until crispy. (If you’re using bacon,
cut it into 2-inch pieces and cook it altogether until crispy.)
Drain the crispy meat on a paper towel. Now add the remaining
tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, turn down the heat a bit, and cook
the onion and garlic gently for 2 minutes. Season lightly with salt and
pour this mixture into a large bowl. Add any liquid from the tomato pan to
the bowl, then whisk in the balsamic vinegar and adjust the seasoning.
Assemble the Salad:
Toss the arugula or lettuce with the vinaigrette and arrange on a platter or individual plates. Top with the tomatoes and the pancetta (or arugula or bacon) and serve.
One thought on “Compromising with Fanatics”
Oh my, you are SO lucky – I have several among my extended family and friends – plus a bunch of food allergies (gluten, shellfish, dairy) – makes group dinners a real chore sometimes! 😉