In Something's Gotta Give -- yes, yes, it's a chick flick, and I love it -- the most romantic scene catches Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson in their bathrobes, in her kitchen, at night, sharing a pan of eggs by candlelight. I think eggs are romantic, too. Maybe it's because they're warm and familiar, or just so silky soft and sensuous. If you love eggs, here's a simple little herb and ricotta frittata a deux. All you need are eggs, fresh herbs (whatever's left in your garden), creamy ricotta cheese and a bit of sharp Parmigiano-Reggiano, an onion, candles, and two forks. Or, make this as a treat for yourself, and eat it straight from the pan while watching the movie in your bathrobe.
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Here at the log house, the air outside smells like Fall, and my kitchen smells like soup. At least once a week, I haul out the big stock pot or Dutch oven, and start tossing in vegetables, herbs from the garden, leftovers from the week's cooking, beans or lentils or pasta from the pantry, and, almost always these days, some turkey meatballs.
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You'll never miss the anchovies in this vegetarian Caesar salad. (Wait, you knew about the fish in the salad dressing, didn't you?) I love to use anchovy paste in traditional Caesar salad dressing, but in this recipe, plain Greek yogurt and sharp, salty Romano cheese stand in for the sharp, salty bite from the fish. Plenty of garlic, giant crunchy croutons made fresh in a frying pan, and crisp, sturdy lettuce combine for a simple salad that relies on big flavor from every ingredient. Add some grilled chicken or shrimp, as restaurants often do, or pile on tomatoes, or bell pepper, or asparagus... well, you get the idea. I always blend some extra dressing, which keeps in the refrigerator for a week, so I have the basic salad for several lunches in a row, with different add-ons every day.
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For years -- well, for decades -- I cooked barley only one way: in soup, with mushrooms and carrots and rich beef or chicken stock. So I missed out on decades of amazing warm and cold barley salads, and now I'm making up for lost time. Or for lost tastes. This barley, artichoke, sun-dried tomato and feta salad came together after a quick pantry raid and a short hop to the herb garden for some of the curly parsley I'm growing this year for the first time. The strong, salty flavors of the artichokes, tomato and cheese, plus the lemony flavor of a zahtar-based dressing, provide just the right counterpoint to the creamy barley. For a vegan salad, omit the cheese, and add some kalamata olives.
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