And for once, I mean that figuratively, because our dinner plates tonight are actually rather spare. You see, I am in the midst of a bachelorette-wedding-travel whirlwind that is consuming my life and wreaking havoc on my routine. But it’s not all bad. I flew home last night from a lovely weekend in Michigan wine country with my soon to be sister-in-law and a short stay with my in-laws in Chicago. On Sunday night, we had an amazing seafood dinner in Evanston. (You heard me right – great seafood in a Chicago suburb.) I had softshell crabs, a treat to myself whenever they’re on the menu.
I never cook softshell crabs at home, so they always feel like an indulgence, but my dad used to make them every season. He tossed them in salt-and-peppered flour and then fried them in a hot skillet with olive oil and butter. He used a splatter screen because softshells have a habit of spitting and sputtering in the pan. The only other time dad used a splatter screen was for my mom’s birthday, when he made chicken livers every year, because they’re my mom’s favorite. Dad would grumble and curse while the hot oil splattered the stove and the walls and him.
Tonight we’re eating humbly. My travel schedule means that basic tasks like grocery shopping, cleaning, and laundry are falling through the cracks and that my pantry options are limited. Still, I had ingredients left in the fridge for tonight’s recipe to ensure that we didn’t starve. It’s from a cookbook that one of our house guests gave us as a thank you gift. I was skeptical at first, it’s a vegetarian cookbook and I am decisively non-vegetarian. However, Delia assured me, as a non-vegetarian herself, that I would love this cookbook and she was right. I tinkered a bit and added tuna (sorry, fish) and olives (you’re welcome) and leftover croutons (Matt didn’t eat all the garlic croutons!). It was perfect , we had seconds. Tomorrow night, however, I will be in No Man’s Land, trying to make dinner out of arbitrary dry goods, leftover rice, and separated coconut milk. Wish me luck. I will spare you from the gory details.
Warm Green Beans and New Potatoes with Sliced Eggs and Grilled Onions from Fresh Food Fast by Peter Berley
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch crescents from root to stem
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
Course sea salt or kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper
2 pounds small new potatoes, sliced 1/2-inch thick
4 large eggs
1 pound green beans, trimmed
Lemon wedges, for serving
1. Warm a large, heavy skillet over medium hear for 3 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until deeply browned on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes.
2. In a large salad bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and thyme. Whisk in the oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked onions and toss to coat them with the vinaigrette.
3. In a stockpot fitted with a steamer insert, bring 1 inch of water to boil. Add the potato slices an steam, covered, until tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to the bowl with the onions and toss gently to coat.
4. In a large saucepan, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add the eggs, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked eggs to a bowl of cold water.
5. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water in the saucepan and return to a boil Add the green beans and blanch until crisp-tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the beans, toss them with the onions and potatoes, and season with salt and pepper.
6. Peel and slice the cooked eggs and arrange them on top of the salad. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.