January 17, 2010

Hot and Cold: A Weather Inspired Meal

It’s rainy and horrible in New York today.  After a gorgeous Saturday that felt like the beginning of March and smelled like the start of spring, we’ve been jolted back to winter in NYC.  Dommage.  But I don’t mind. Sam and I love the winter, and although I haven’t yet made it to the slopes this year, skiing is my favorite outdoor activity.  So tonight, I welcomed back winter with an easy pea soup, but said a little goodbye to “spring” with a fresh panzanella-like salad on the side.  The pea soup ended up a bit bland–D’Agostino didn’t have any ham bones. (What grocery store doesn’t carry ham bones?!?)  But the salad made up for it with a lemony Dijon dressing and garlic infused toasted “croutons” that was inspired by Meredith Shanley’s BLT Panzanella.  This salad is best with day old bread and ours was left over from a particularly delicious Amy’s Bread grilled cheese made with Gruyere.  Honestly, it was one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve had, and Sam’s standards have now been raised.  I don’t think a Kraft singles sandwich is going to cut it anymore.  So here’s to a long weekend (for at least one of us) and hopefully it’s less wet where you are…

(Nearly) Vegetarian Pea Soup
Serves 4

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
1 bag (16 oz.) green split peas
2 c. chicken broth
4 c. water
salt & pepper

Heat oil in a heavy pot or Dutch oven.  Sauté the onions, carrots, and celery until tender or about 5 minutes.  Add the peas, chicken broth, and water to the vegetables and bring to a boil.  Add salt and pepper, generously.  Let simmer for 40 minutes until the peas are tender and have absorbed much of the liquid.  Using a hand blender, or a regular blender in batches, puree the soup until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Lemony Panzanella
Serves 4 side portions, 2 large side salads

3 slices of day old bread, cubed
2 medium tomatoes, cubed
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 handfuls lettuce, washed and chopped into bite sized pieces
Salt & pepper

Lemon Vinaigrette
4 tbsp. olive oil
3 tsp. Dijon mustard
Juice and zest from half a lemon
Salt & pepper

Whisk together the mustard, juice, zest, salt & pepper.  Gradually whisk in the olive oil until combined and the vinaigrette is creamy.

In a heavy pan, heat the oil and sauté the garlic until fragrant.  Add the bread and turn continuously to coat with olive oil.  Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes until just browned and toasted. Let cool in a medium bowl. Combine the tomatoes and the cooled bread with half of the vinaigrette.  Add the lettuce and the rest of the vinaigrette and toss to combine.

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