Today was just gorgeous. Sunny, well into the 40s- though shaded snow stayed powdery all day- it nonetheless harbinged Spring something fierce. By midafternoon the sun had melted off enough of the accumulated snow and ice in the garden that I was able to wrest the plastic from withunder and take a look at how the veggies have been faring. One of the benefits of so much snow is that they’ve been left to their own devices for most of the winter. They do just fine with recycling the water already in the soil via condensation, and now that the sun is up to pre-halloween heights in the sky, they’re putting on some real growth- which is even more noticeable since I haven’t been mauling them in wintry desperation on a regular basis.
So in keeping with our recent trend of two-course dinners, I began by turning the rest of the lovely 10-grain mix into supplì (or arancini) with a chunk of mozzarella in the middle and a diluted egg-cormeal crust. I find that they do just fine in about a half inch of oil; it takes a tad more attention to rotating them for even browning, but it uses way less oil than deep frying. So I put them on top of some spinach pesto and got to work on part two: grilled squid salad. Now this is a variation on what I had wanted to make the day I drove all over the place trying to find squid, but it’s different because I made the peanut soup part anyway and we ate iterations of that for over a week, and now we have a new raft of leftovers that dictated this particular treatment.
I have found that when it’s too cold to contemplate grilling, an iron pan heated to air-curling heat can do a passable job of putting a char on things that like a nice char. Squid is just such a food; you either cook it for 1 minute or several hours. Otherwise it’s rubber. So four good-sized squid bodies marinated for a couple of hours in spinach pesto mashed with ume plums and got a righteous sear in the pan. Then I cut them into rings and tossed them with the last of the roasted beet salad from ages ago (that we’ve been hitting all week) plus a few remaining Kalamata olives, a final hunk of feta, and more spinach pesto. This rich ruby mixture I did serve atop an exciting bunch of greens plucked mere minutes before from the garden: claytonia, mâche, spinach, mustard, mizuna, chard, tatsoi, radish, and arugula.
The little camera had some depth-of-field issues with this one; it was all “Wow, that plate from Turkey is so cool” and I was like “But dude, the food” and it was totally “Whatever about your food- check out that plate!” (The big camera’s battery was dead.) We enjoyed the last glass of a 2003 Guigal Crozes-Hermitage from last night- when we had an inexplicably unphotographed porcini powder dusted baked halibut on caramelized leeks and turnips- along with a newly-opened 2003 Jaboulet Vacqueyras. It’s always so much more instructive to taste wines together, and when you can get regions or years to match up it’s even better.