My boy, with the galaxy of freckles across his nose and cheeks, is almost big enough to go off to school by himself all day.
Even though this won’t happen until fall, I thought about it a lot last week. With all the rain, I felt glad for a chance to nestle in with him at home for a couple of days, without much to do other than working together on his Storm Trooper mask. Soon those kinds of days will be more limited, and nearly never the result of something so unremarkable as a playmate getting sick or the weather turning.
He’s been drawing a lot lately and during the past week he worked for long periods of time at the art table. This gave me extra time to work around the house or sneak in a few minutes on my own projects. He’d always call me in after awhile, to help him draw Boba Fett or add to one of his blueprints for a trap (to catch the bad guys). Once we took a walk. More than once, between cloudbursts, we went out back where he poked a stick in the pond and I ran my fingers over some mosses growing on the rocks.
When time is moving slowly like that, I feel okay about getting less done. It’s simple to be together, in parallel spaces, piddling around.
Later, when my daughter is home and the afternoon light hits the floor in the family room a certain way, that’s when I get back into the swing of things. That’s when I first think about dinner. I pull produce out of the fridge and jars out of the pantry.
I let my kids sample bits of ingredients while I’m prepping the meal. Unless, of course, I’m making kale chips. When that happens, I have to shoo away little hands so the serving dish makes it to the dinner table. I mean, the kids devour them. So do the grown-ups.
And I love that. But it often means the rest of the meal sits forgotten while olive oil-covered fingers scrape the salty remnants off the bottom of the dish. What about the soup? The buttered toast? The oranges, cut into pretty discs?
So today’s recipe incorporates crispy greens into the meal. Think of it as a salad and snack combined, salty arugula with citrus and a comforting vinaigrette.
I’d never made chips out of arugula leaves before so I tried it two ways, in the oven and on a stovetop grill. The baked leaves tasted better, probably because I remembered to dash in some sea salt as I was rubbing oil into the leaves. (Salt them, by all means, but do so sparingly. The salty flavor jumps out.) The grilled leaves looked nicer, keeping some of their bright green color and acquiring those pretty horizontal lines. In the future I’ll grill them and remember the salt.
I kept the long stems on the leaves, figuring they’d be nice handles for turning and would eventually crisp, like Chinese noodles. They were nice for grabbing with the tongs but they didn’t crisp, still soggy when the leaves were perfectly done. I ended up trimming the stems off before placing in the salad bowl. Next time I’ll crisp the leaves alone.
Crispy Arugula Salad with Citrus and Walnuts
adapted from The Reluctant Gourmet
1 large bunch of arugula, washed and dried well
olive oil, for coating leaves
1-3 pieces of your favorite citrus fruit such as navel oranges or tangerines
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon walnut oil
½-1 T sherry vinegar or white balsamic
½-1 tsp maple syrup
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
goat cheese or another soft cheese
Heat a griddle to medium or preheat the oven to 350°. Wash arugula
leaves and dry thoroughly with a dish towel. Toss leaves with olive oil
and a good pinch of sea salt, rubbing into any edges of leaves that don’t
get coated during the stirring by coating with your fingers.
Place in a glass baking dish or on a griddle, making sure leaves
are separated. You’ll need two glass baking dishes. On the griddle,
cook leaves in batches. Turn leaves every 3-4 minutes, until crispy,
10-12 minutes. Set aside.
Peel orange and cut into discs. Set aside.
For the vinaigrette, sauté the garlic and walnuts in the oil over
medium heat until the garlic starts to turn golden. Place in a bowl
and add walnut oil, sherry vinegar and maple syrup.
Whisk and adjust seasoning with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Arrange arugula leaves on serving plates, top with orange slices
and vinaigrette, mounding walnuts in the center. Top with bits of
cheese and serve.