1. Black Rice or Forbidden Rice
These little grains are new to me. I found them on the hot bar at Whole Foods last week, and being someone who doesn’t think anything will ever be the new black, will ever be as good meets great, I had to scoop some into a to-go box and make my way home.
The rice is chewy, like sticky little beads, with a nutty sweetness. The grains are black when dry and then puff into a deep purple when cooked. They’re absolutely lovable beside any plate companion, and I hear they’re outrageously good for you and me. Lots of iron, lots of stuff that makes your insides glow.
2. Sweet Green Peas
My mother and I love peas. We also love cupcakes and frosting and things coated in or spun from sugar. We’re sweet seekers. Peas, therefore, are the perfect vegetable. They hold a natural sweetness, they’re green- our favorite color in any shade, and they pop and mash between your teeth. Adding peas as a side to dinner makes any meal’s flavor more complex and satisfying.
I always have a bag of frozen peas in my freezer to make Pappardelle with Ricotta and Mint or Curried Cauliflower with Sweet Peas. They’re also helpful when I burn the living hell out of my arms and fingers in the oven.
Kale, when she’s raw and undressed, is chewy- a bit too fibrous and thick to enjoy in the same way you might like lettuce or baby spinach. But if you rub her with salt and olive oil and then let her sit alone for awhile, she softens. This method of lightly “cooking” her is called “massaging” kale. The salt breaks down the toughness of her fiber, makes her tender.
I picked up my first bunch of kale when I was told kale was a superfood. I fell in love. I massaged her with vinaigrettes for cool salads; I sauteed her in garlic and olive oil; and then, thankfully, I began roasting her as chips. Tear a whole bunch of kale leaves into small pieces, each about 2 square inches in size, toss them with 1 tablespoon olive oil, lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast for 15 minutes at 400 degrees until the leaves begin to blacken. These “chips” should be stable enough to pick up, one by one, and they’ll shatter between your teeth like thin Lay’s potato chips. Salt them heavily and call me when your done.
4. Berries in Blue, Straw, Rasp, and Black
I’ll be sad when berries leave this season. I’ll miss the way they burst and sweeten. My friend Karlyn and I were out to dinner recently and we capped off the last course with a hot peach and blueberry crisp topped with a big scoop of Madagascar vanilla ice cream. The blues turned into a thick, rich, indigo syrup and swirled pink with melting vanilla. I said a silent prayer, promising I’d be good if I could hibernate from now until next summer when the blueberries come out again.
Salmon is quite possibly my favorite fish. It’s more flavorful, more rich and fatty than most. Something about the color, the way it flakes and then sort of melts and oils my tongue- it’s ultra satisfying. I find salmon buttery, and really, when is that not a lovable adjective for any old thing?
I’d estimate I eat salmon once a week. I love it smoked, grilled, poached, baked in a foil pouch, and raw in sushi.
What 5 foods are you loving right now?