I’ve been at a bit of a standstill in the kitchen this month. It’s not really a lack of ideas vexing me, but a lack of desire to spend any time in front of a stove or oven now that the weather is so delicious, I believe I at least owe it the courtesy of spending time out in it. Sure, there are savory tarts and summery salads and even another burger bun recipe on my agenda; there’s a cake in my fridge that’s so pretty I will not be the least bit offended if you mount a protest that I am waiting until next time to tell you about it, but I need to level with you: I have not cooked a real dinner for us in over a month. A month! Perhaps longer.
One of my favorite things about cooking is being surprised. As much fun as it is chasing some childhood recipe or flavor ideal I caught a whiff of at some restaurant, somewhere, nothing matches the surprise of finding a recipe that you’re not entirely sure will be your thing, trying it anyway and then spending the rest of the night going “this is good,” “wow, this is so good,” and “wow, I had no idea it would be this good.”
Believe it or not, I’ve actually cooked dinner a few times this month. Like, three! Maybe even four. I don’t know, does a corn tortillas chmeared with refried beans, salsa and toasted with some shredded cheese on top count as dinner? Oh it does? Then definitely, most certainly four. We’re all about the refined eatin’ at the smittenkitchen.
When I made my version of baked ratatouille back in July, I had intended to follow up with suggestions of other things you could do with leftovers, or leftover ingredients, as I always have leftover components but have not yet found a store that will sell me two-thirds of one zucchini and a half an eggplant. I really hate having a quarter eggplant leftover, because I’m very unlikely to use it and incapable of throwing it away, so what usually happens is I stash it in the fridge where it gets forgotten about, rots, is found a month later as when I scream in horror and throw it away afterall, having flashbacks to that time I lived with three friends and we were cleaning out the fridge and found something completely awful way in the back and Dave said “sorry, that was my kiwi” and I was like, “uh, that’s a lemon.”
My favorite side dish takes five minutes to make. It has only three steps. No garlic or shallots get minced, nothing gets topped with butter, and shockingly, it involves no truffle salt. It has only two ingredients, and the only reason I’ve held out this long telling you about it is because when I see a recipe that swears it will combine two ingredients in an entirely new and innovative way, I roll my eyes.