The weather has turned horribly hot here in New England. The thermometer climbs up into the high 90s and a gale force wind blows air which, rather than feeling refreshing, is hot too – like being blown on by a gigantic heater while standing in a sauna. On such days, the heat seems to penetrate into all things – the shade beneath the trees is hot, the slate tiles on the floor (where I tend to lay prostrate and helpless on such days) are hot, everything is hot.
And so the mind becomes utterly preoccupied with coldness. I find myself coming up with excuses to travel down to the spider infested dungeon of a basement (a place I usually avoid at all costs) simply to stand barefoot on the cement and feel the cold dank air on my skin. I spend an extra long time fishing for ice-cubes in the freezer, and rarely do they make it to my glass – instead smothered over arms and neck and left to melt for that glorious reprieve of cold water trickling down ones back. I crouch in the 4 inch deep stream trickling past the house, contorting myself into ridiculous postures to try and immerse as much of myself at once as I can (hopefully the neighbors weren’t looking). But the heat prevails over all.
Needless to say, the oven will NOT be turned on. Thus, any sort of cooking will involve the stove top – hopefully one pan, and minimal effort and cleanup. On these days, I inevitably want something which is green and cool and refreshing. Salad. Green somehow seems to soften the heat – the smell of green (and I think it does have a smell), the color, the taste (it does have a taste too) are all refreshing, cooling, calming to the beholder. The taste of cucumbers, the smell of mint, the flavor of crisp cold lettuce.
Thus, my garden inspired this lovely little salad of green – cooked quickly on the stove top and left to cool and marinade in the fridge till tantalizingly chilled – eaten at dusk, sitting on the porch railing, when the air was slightly less suffocating, and the wind almost refreshing. Full of many verdant shades and flavors, it was just the thing to lessen the stifling grip of hotness and ease into dreams of peppermint, forest canopies and cool moss-covered stones.
A verdant salad
I realize that living up in the mountains in the North means that my garden might be quite a bit behind many of you. So if you’ve well moved past the peas and fava beans, then I do apologize. If however, your garden is just as prolific in such things as mine currently is, by all means celebrate these ingredients while you can. Serves 2.
- 2.5 cups (or so) shelled fava beans
- 1 – 2 cups shelled peas
- 1 large bunch kale
- 1 ball fresh Mozzarella (preferably organic)
- 1 bunch flat leaved parsley
- 1 small bunch fresh mint
- olive oil and balsamic to drizzle
- salt and pepper to taste
Place a ban of salted water on the stove to boil as you get to work shelling your favas and peas. Strip the kale leaves from the tough center rib and tear into rough sized pieces.
Once the water has come to a rolling boil, add the favas. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or longer depending on the size. When you have about a minute to go on your favas, add the peas. Place the kale into a colander and pour the contents of the pan over the kale to discard the water (the heat from the water, favas and peas is enough to cook the kale). Rinse under cold running water until the ingredients are cool enough to touch, then pat dry with a towel to remove excess moisture and place in a large bowl.
Tear the mozzarella into rough pieces and add to the fava/pea/kale trio. Tear the mint and parsley leaves from the stem (keeping them whole) and add to the bowl. Drizzle everything with a little extra virgin olive oil and a nice balsamic, add a dash of salt and pepper, and stir well to combine.
Chill for a few hours to let the flavors meet and marry (I just love that phrase) and then serve in wide bowls with a piece of crusty bread to sop up the dressing left at the bottom of the bowl.