A Good Problem to Have
Putting vegetables on a pedestal
I must be the only person in America who can spend more money buying less meat. The produce at farm stands and in grocery stores just looks so gorgeous right now; I’ve been giving grocers all my money. I’ll have to rein it in soon.
The other day at the register, I nervously watched my bill climb until, after the final beep, it reached $307. I spent more than three times our normal grocery budget on mostly on fruits and veggies — I also bought some discounted bacon ends and a few bags of salt cod (those were sort of expensive). I didn’t need six eggplants, eight artichokes, three kinds of lettuce, and all these other vegetables or have anywhere to put them, but it’s a good problem to have.
When I got home, I rearranged the kitchen, freeing up big bowls, counter space, and the fridge to fit everything. The small hook that my wire veggie basket is suspended from is working way too hard, so I’ll have to cook through it all quickly. It is forcing me to get right to work and expand my repertoire though, which I’m excited about.
In the summer, on every sunny day, I imagine myself at the grill pulling off each food in due time and laying it on a platter next to ramekins full of sauces. Little by little, vegetables are replacing meat in that vision of summertime grilling.
This week, I’ll be using four of Mark’s recipes to help me achieve that and to deal with my overstock: I’ll make the salt cod inside, grill most of the remaining vegetables to eat with raita, and save a few eggplants to make the Grilled Eggplant Salad with Garlic and Saffron Mayonnaise. If you make any of these recipes, please share so we can compare notes. —Mike
Salt Cod in Tomato Sauce
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 45 minutes with prepared salt cod
According to Mark: “Thinned just a bit, this would make an excellent sauce for pasta [or crusty bread].” He says, “You can make this sauce and poach almost any fish in it — any white-fleshed fish will work, though cod is the most obvious and logical choice — but it will never have the character brought to the table by salt cod, especially if you take the time to fry it first, as in the variation.”
1 pound boneless salt cod, soaked overnight, drained and poached for 15 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
3 anchovies, or to taste
1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup pitted green olives
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
1. Drain the salt cod and pick out any stray bones or pieces of skin, then cut them into chunks. Combine the oil and garlic in a large skillet and turn the heat to medium. Add the anchovies and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is lightly golden and the anchovies have broken up. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the tomatoes to the skillet, along with a little salt and some pepper. Cook a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to become "saucy," about 15 minutes.
2. Add the capers, olives, pepper flakes, and cod. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring infrequently and gently, until the cod is hot. Taste and adjust seasoning, then garnish and serve.
Fried Salt Cod in Tomato Sauce. More work, but better: After poaching the salt cod, cut it into chunks. Drain well on paper towels, then dredge in flour and fry on both sides in at least 1/4 inch of hot olive oil. Add to the tomato sauce as above.
—Recipe from The Best Recipes in the World
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