You guys, I owe you an apology. It’s been nearly a month since I first encountered this grilled bacon salad and I couldn’t find a window to tell you about it until now. That wasn’t right of me. When you try it, you’ll understand.
[Er, croutons not pictured.] Here’s the thing: If you told me you were serving succotash with or for dinner, I’d inwardly groan. People, I’ve had all sorts of succotash — a summery stew of corn and lima beans, often with tomatoes, yet still so bland that no added butter or cream saves it for me, and when adding butter and cream don’t save something for me, you know something is terribly wrong — and can’t think of one that I wanted to run home and make for myself. It might be because it’s usually in the off-season, when the above come frozen and no, it’s just not the same. It might also be because I once had a roommate that would open cans of succotash, not drain it, heat it in the microwave and eat it straight and guys, it’s been many, many years and still, my stomach turns. Don’t ever live with me. I’m a jerk.
You wouldn’t believe how I have stalked this salad. It started when I bookmarked it nearly three years ago. Three! Each and every summer, it has managed to get lost in the shuffle of tomato season. This summer I decided it would be made no matter what only to discover that the link I had to the recipe no longer worked and that — huh? — I apparently didn’t own or couldn’t find the cookbook it came from. Amazon fixed that a week later, and I set to making it for a barbecue last weekend, only for the barbecue plans to fall through as heirloom tomatoes grew soft on our counter. One thing after another got in the way of this salad this week — first we were out of buttermilk, then basil, then daylight, then energy… — until I finally dug my heels in last night and decided that we would have corn bread salad with dinner or else. I know, I’m so intimidating when I threaten salad.
I wasn’t kidding last week when I said that I have staged an intervention with myself and am trying my hardest to cook more things at home that can be even loosely construed as dinner. I mean, somehow the farmers markets are bursting with beans and greens and peppers and potatoes and peaches and… And I ate (average) pad thai for lunch. It doesn’t even compute.
I’ve been somewhat fascinated by the idea of putting potatoes in a pasta dish since I first saw a recipe for it a couple years ago, and my Inner American gasped “All of that starch! How totally unhealthy!” forgetting, as usual, that the people in the world that eat dishes like this are for the most part, 75 percent of the size of your average American.
Sometimes I’m worried that I might be boring you guys. Yes, yes, being plagued by feelings of dullness and inadequacy, how very tired of me. But, let’s take some of the themes we have here; artichokes, beans, arugula, salad, bread and the most repetitive one of all: I ate something somewhere, and had to have it again ASAP so I tried to make it myself. Today, we’ve got all of them bundled into one. I try to say to myself, Deb, not everyone is infatuated by artichokes, arugula, beans and salads and every single way you can think of eating them either separately or together. I try to rationalize, although it’s not my strong suit. But then I imagine a world without people who get as excited as I do about artichokes! arugula! beans! and it makes me terrifically sad. Thus today I present to you: Artichoke, Cranberry Bean and Arugula Salad, or seriously the best thing I’ve gotten to eat twice in a week in way too long.
At times, I’m sure I’m the only person in on earth who feels this way, but I’m not crazy about things stuffed with cheese. Save for a once-a-year indulgence of baked macaroni and a rare grilled cheese sandwich, I just don’t enjoy cheese by the cheek full. It feels too rich, indulgent. I think cheese was meant to be savored, bite-wise, in a setting where its delicate twists and turns can be pondered. It seems whenever the quantity is amplified, it has an inverse effect on the quality. Frankly, the dry, flat stuff that fills most ravioli is just depressing.