Improvising dinner is a funny thing; sometimes–like two posts ago–it fails utterly in the absence of attentive preparation. Usually it works fine, especially when it treads familiar, well-worn paths of technique and ingredients. And sometimes it exceeds wildest imaginings, making for a perfect plate of food. Happily, last night was such an instance.
I did the usual pre-dinner survey, pulling various containers and vegetables out of the fridge, and took stock. (I actually took stock out of the fridge, so it’s funny ’cause there’s a double meaning). There was half a butternut squash that surely needed eating, a quarter onion, a bunch of scallions from the garden, and a big bowl of radicchio and curly endive I had picked the day before. And some very nice thinly-sliced Berkshire pork loin from the freezer. I stood there for a minute, prepping the squash, and figured out what I wanted to do.
I diced the squash and cooked it with minced onion and whole wheat couscous until all was tender and fluffy, adding olive oil and scallion at the end. I chopped the radicchio and endive finely, tossing it with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. And I browned onion and carrot in hot oil for a minute, then added the pork for a minute, then poured in stock, honey, rice vinegar, juice from half a blood orange, soy sauce, and a drop of sesame oil, letting it reduce to coat all the goodness. And that was it. Everything played exceedingly well together, and this was one of those meals that fit perfectly into the mood and weather of the day, summarizing and embodying the happiness of a sunny afternoon spent outside with the family in the yard and garden.