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MEAT AND POTATOES MADE EASY

MEAT AND POTATOES MADE EASY

It’s the week before Christmas and chances are good that most people are just thisclose to either exploding or imploding, whichever comes first.  The sheer amount of nonsense and self-imposed misery people are willing to accept is mind-boggling – but we’re not here to talk about that.

*beat*

Well, yeah. My blog. I CAN talk about that. I sometimes think I might implode myself if I hear one more person whinging about the commercialization of Christmas as they head out the door to shop for more presents for little Esmeralda and little Heathcliff – well, pull up your big girl/boy panties and accept responsibility for your part in that commercialization. “They EXPECT presents/ my mother-in-law will judge me/I don’t want to be Scrooge” – oh, put a sock in it. No one HAS to be out there in the mall. If you really feel that way, declare your home a commercial-free zone. Little kiddies WILL get over your giftlessness. If your MIL has a cow, tell her to give it lots of hay and milk it every morning.

The worst Christmas I ever had – and I’ve had some bad ones – I had to return a present to the store because the intended recipient died before I could give it to him. If you want to give presents, don’t think that Christmas is the only acceptable time. You see just the right veeblefetzer that Aunt Hilda would love, but it’s only April? Get it and hand it over. Aunt Hilda may not make it to December.

Where were we? Oh. Yeah. Meat and potatoes.

Among the many headaches at this time of year is the need to feed a lot of people. You’ve already had spaghetti and lasagna and take-out and bags of lettuce with bottled dressing; now you need to come up with something a little more festive but also substantial. This dish works on all those accounts. And it can be prepped ahead and left in the refrigerator until time to roast it.

I saw a friend make a roast this way, the meat balanced on top of new potatoes, and I marveled at its simplicity. The seasoning idea came from an episode of Man, Fire, Food on The Cooking Channel. Roger Mooking visited Rancho Llano Seco, which is about 70 miles south of here, where they prepared an amazing porchetta roast on a rotisserie, allowing the pork fat to drip down onto oysters. The thought makes me salivate.

For this dish I used a boneless pork roast just under 5 pounds – not a tenderloin. Ask to be certain that the pork roast you choose is ideal for the dry heat of an oven; some cuts are better suited to braising in a crock pot. To fill the 8″ X 11″ baking dish took about four pounds of potatoes. You don’t have to use pork – you could do a whole chicken, leg of lamb, or beef roast, though because they don’t take as long to cook, you’d want to start the pan of potatoes in the oven about 45 minutes before putting the meat on top.

You’ll need kitchen string and a meat thermometer.

PORCHETTA ALLA LLANA SECO

  • 1 boneless pork roast, 5-6 pounds
  • 4 pounds new potatoes (use a thin-skinned type such as Red Bliss, White Rose or Yellow Finn; Russets or other baking-type potatoes will fall apart)
  • 2 heads of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons whole fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (the type you get in pizza parlors)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Broth or stock

Put the fennel seed in a small dry frying pan over medium-high heat. Shake the pan every few seconds until the seeds begin to lightly brown, pop, and smell fragrant. When they are lightly toasted, remove them immediately. if you have a mortar and pestle, pound them in that; if not, use a spice grinder. If you don’t have either one, put the seeds in a sturdy plastic bag and whack them with a hammer to break them up.

Wash and thinly slice the potatoes. Stand them on edge in a baking dish large enough to put the roast on top of the potatoes and not have any hanging over the sides.

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Distribute plenty of chopped garlic throughout the potatoes; sprinkle lightly with salt and generously with freshly ground pepper. If you want, you can add another herb or two – thyme, rosemary, oregano, etc.

Unwrap the pork roast. This one was tied with string to keep it from flopping around. Snip and remove the string. DO NOT REMOVE THE FAT ON TOP! If the pork rind is still intact, leave it on too!

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The boneless roast should have a flap where the bones were removed. Pull it open, so that you have a long somewhat flat roast; if necessary cut an opening so you can unfold it like opening a book.

Sprinkle the cut side with the toasted ground fennel, lots of chopped garlic, the teaspoon of hot pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.

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Put a hand under each end of the flattened-out pork and carefully snap the roast back together, fat side up.

If there is a rind (skin) on the roast, score it lightly with a knife.

Cut four lengths of kitchen string long enough to go around the pork cross-wise, and two pieces to go around it length-wise. Slide the cross-wise lengths under the roast, spacing them apart, and one by one tie them tightly. Then slide the length-wise strings under the pork package and tie those. Snip off excess string.

Pour stock into the pan to about 1/2″ deep. (You can see some jellied stock on the left side of the roast here.) Put the porchetta package on top, fat/rind side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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At this point, you can put the whole thing in the refrigerator as long as overnight. Bring it out about two hours before you want to roast it.

Here is a chart  from the National Pork Board detailing how long to cook pork. I usually figure about 25-30 minutes per pound at 325 Fahrenheit. This is where a meat thermometer comes in very handy.  I roasted this to 160F, then took it out of the oven and let it sit about 20 minutes, covered.

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All roasts will continue to cook for a while; they will firm up and be much easier to slice if allowed to rest after removal from the oven.

Snip and pull the strings off. Slice the meat. If the roast has a rind, remove it, put it on a cookie sheet and run it under the broiler (watching CAREFULLY) to crisp it; slice it and put it on the platter with the meat.  Although the roast looks really spiffy on top of the potatoes, it is much, much easier to serve if you put the meat on a separate platter from the potatoes.

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I think that you want a slightly sweet side dish like carrots, beets, applesauce, red cabbage, or parsnips alongside, as well as some sort of green like spinach, kale, or collards. This is a very rich dish; a big ol’ cheesecake for dessert would be too, TOO much. Some simple cookies and sorbet would be less overwhelming. And a big red wine or dark beer is appropriate.

Obviously the seasoning can be varied – one of those barbecue rubs that’s sitting around in your cupboard would work. A Mexican seasoning like toasted cumin seeds with garlic and oregano would be great, or a good curry mix. Google “dry barbecue rubs” and go wild. I particularly like the spice rubs suggested by Chris Schlesinger in Big Flavors of the Hot Sun.

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WELCOME TO HELL. LET’S HAVE A PICNIC!

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WELCOME TO HELL. LET’S HAVE A PICNIC!

If you’re reading this, I can still reach the keyboard. My cats are flatter than pancakes. I have lost all interest in any activities except idly thumbing through Christmas card catalogs, anticipating sub-freezing temperatures with pleasure.

FORECAST

Here is another Mark Bittman column  – more common sense than I’ll ever have, as well as humor and a little in-your-face. Picnic fare that is just as good at home.  Today is July 2;  this was published July 2, 2008. Good ideas if you’ll be outdoors on Independence Day, or if you just want some simple-to-make dishes to sustain you through the summer.

101 20-Minute Dishes for Inspired Picnics

There is something both innocent and exciting about a picnic, even if you are only packing a few things at the last minute and heading down the street to the park. It may be nothing fancier than bologna or tuna salad on white bread, but you’re still likely to have a good time, which is probably why many of us remain devoted to the same picnic foods we’ve eaten all our lives.

But at some point, you may get the urge to vary the menu a bit. With that in mind, I’d like to make a few — or, actually, 101 — suggestions, ranging from snacks to dessert. With a little shopping, a little effort, and 20 minutes or less for assembly, you can create the kind of carry-out food that will put the local prepared food shops to shame while saving you a small fortune. No matter how faithful you are to your old favorites, I’ll bet you will find something intriguing here.

1 BEET SALAD Peel beets and grate them (a food processor will keep the juice contained). Add pistachios or hazelnuts; dress with orange zest and juice, and olive oil. Add bits of goat cheese and chopped parsley.

2 PESTO CHICKEN ROLLS Season and grill chicken cutlets. Brush lavash or any other wrap-type bread with pesto; layer with the chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and arugula; roll up and cut on the bias.

3 CURRIED EGG SALAD Make egg salad with hard-cooked eggs, mayo, curry powder, Dijon mustard, fresh lime juice, salt, pepper, cilantro, red onion and, if you like, diced apple.

4 TOMATOES AND PEACHES Toss together sliced seeded tomatoes and peaches, along with thinly sliced red onion and chopped cilantro or rosemary. Dress at the last minute with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

5 ROAST BEEF AND BLUE Start with whole-grain rolls. Smear blue cheese on one side and prepared horseradish on the other. Add red onion and thin-sliced roast beef, pork or lamb. Pack lettuce and tomato on the side. Potato chips are mandatory.

6 CORNFLAKE CHICKEN BITES Cut boneless chicken breasts into small pieces. Dip in milk or buttermilk, then dredge in seasoned crushed corn flake crumbs, cornmeal or panko. Pan-fry in oil, drain, cool and eat cold with celery sticks, with ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping.

7 GRAPES AND CHEESE Mix feta cubes and green grapes (or grape tomatoes or pieces of watermelon). Add mint, salt, pepper and olive oil. A tiny bit of chopped fresh chili is good, too.

8 COLD PEANUT NOODLES Cook Chinese egg noodles or regular spaghetti. Drain and rinse. Toss with sesame oil, peanut butter (or tahini), sugar, soy sauce, ginger, vinegar, black pepper (lots) and chili oil (optional). Pack shredded seeded cucumber, cooked shrimp and chopped scallions separately.

9 For gazpacho, combine a couple of pounds of ripe tomatoes, one of cucumbers, a slice or two of bread, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender. Chill and pour into a thermos.

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Gazpacho. See my recipe here.

10 Combine tomatoes and cucumber in blender with lemon grass (only the most tender part), cilantro, fish sauce and lime. Voilà: Thai gazpacho.

11 Mix peeled, grated carrots with chopped dates, cumin, minced chili, lemon or lime juice, mint or cilantro.

12 Slice a few bulbs of fennel and some tart apples; dice some jicama. Toss together with freshly chopped tarragon, basil or chervil (if you can find it), olive oil, salt, lots of pepper and lemon juice. Celery is good in this, too, as are oranges and cheeses, especially sheep’s cheeses.

13 Guacasalsa: Mash an avocado (it won’t get brown) into some salsa, even jarred if necessary. Don’t forget chips.

14 Cut day-old crusty bread into one-inch cubes. Just before leaving the house, combine it with chopped tomatoes (seeds are O.K.), chopped cucumber, chopped red onion and fresh basil. Pack dressing separately: olive oil, red wine vinegar, diced anchovies, capers, salt and pepper. Call this panzanella.

15 Toss toasted pita with olives, parsley and mint, salt and pepper, bits of chopped-up lemon (rinds and all; preserved lemon is even better), chopped seeded tomatoes, chopped seeded cucumbers and chopped red pepper. Take olive oil for last-minute dressing.

16 Thinly slice Savoy or Napa cabbage. Toss with thinly sliced red onion, half a diced jalapeño and handfuls of chopped cilantro. Dress with olive oil, lime juice, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

17 Halve cherry tomatoes; toss with equal-size pieces of firm smoked or regular tofu and soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, scallions and a pinch of sugar (or mirin if you have it). Add chopped Thai basil and/or cilantro and/or mint just before eating.

18 Toss cooked couscous with oil, chopped parsley, chopped black olives, capers, red onion, salt and pepper. Scoop out medium-size tomatoes and fill with mixture. Pack carefully.

19 Process a cup or two of cashews, a chili or two, some garlic, a splash of soy sauce and enough water to get the food processor going; fold in chopped cilantro or chives. Fill celery sticks and chill. This is the best celery-filler since cream cheese.

20 Poach a couple of pounds of dark leafy greens, like kale, collards or spinach. Drain, cool, squeeze dry and chop. Then toss with oil, salt and lots of lemon juice. Serve with more lemon, oil, salt and pepper. Call it horta.

21 Brown fresh corn kernels in hot oil with chopped chili and garlic, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and toss with cilantro and lots of lime juice.

22 Cook whole unpeeled eggplant in a dry, hot skillet, turning occasionally, until collapsed and soft. (Or grill, or roast, or hold with a fork over an open flame.) While it’s cooling, whisk together tahini, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic and parsley in a bowl. Chop the eggplant flesh (leave the peel behind) and roughly mash in the bowl. Add red pepper flakes if you like. Serve with pita.

23 Simmer one part olive oil, two parts red wine vinegar and four parts water with herbs, salt and pepper. Add chopped vegetables, firmest to softest — maybe carrots first, then cauliflower, then peppers — and poach until just getting tender. Remove from heat and chill overnight in the liquid. It’s giardiniera.

24 Cut zucchini into big chunks and roast or grill with olive oil (and, if you like, whole garlic cloves). Combine with chopped seeded tomatoes, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper.

25 Toss cauliflower florets with oil, salt and pepper, and roast in a hot oven until browned and cooked; while still warm, toss with curry powder and a handful of raisins. Pour on the lemon juice.

26 Soak wakame or other seaweed in hot water until soft; drain and squeeze dry. Toss with chopped celery, sesame oil, soy sauce, mirin (or honey) and rice wine vinegar. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

27 Clean a bunch of mixed mushrooms; quarter any large ones. Steam for about five minutes. When still warm, toss with sliced shallots, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, cracked coriander seeds, chopped fresh cilantro, sherry vinegar and more olive oil if necessary.

28 In a blender or food processor, combine ginger, a half cup or so light miso, a little more than that of walnuts, and enough soy sauce to make a sauce. Toss with cooked green beans or eggplant.

29 Steam or boil a bunch of asparagus; slice on the bias. Toss with orange segments, zest and juice, some olive oil, salt and pepper. Garnish with sesame seeds. Add little shrimp or shredded crab, lobster or chicken if you like.

30 Steam or boil green beans or asparagus; slice on the bias. Toss with thinly sliced red onion, matchstick-size pieces of prosciutto (or lardo if you’re in Colonnata), olive oil, lemon juice, a pinch of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

31 Combine cooked or canned (and drained) black beans, kidney beans and chickpeas. Add diced red and green pepper, some corn kernels and a minced jalapeño. Season with lime juice, chopped marjoram or oregano, salt and pepper.

32 Cook lentils with garlic, onion and thyme. Toss with salt, pepper and fresh chopped herbs: marjoram, tarragon, chervil or basil. Dress with vinaigrette made with oil, vinegar and mustard.

33 Toss cooked or canned white beans with chopped seeded tomato, chopped anchovy, chopped olives, oil, lemon juice, lots of black pepper, salt if necessary and parsley.

34 Steam frozen (shelled) edamame or limas. Toss with chopped seeded tomatoes, cilantro, soy sauce and a suspicion of sesame oil. Salt and pepper.

35 Steam frozen edamame and chill. Toss with olive oil, lemon juice, a pinch of sugar, lots of chopped mint, salt, pepper, and as much shaved pecorino or Parmesan as you like.

36 Mix cooked rice and cooked lentils with very, very well caramelized onions. Add sherry vinegar, salt, pepper and, if necessary, a bit of oil.

37 Combine cooked brown rice with small, barely cooked broccoli florets and chopped pecans or walnuts and parsley. Dress with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon.

38 Combine cooked Arborio rice with thin pesto, peas, toasted pine nuts, salt and pepper.

39 Soak a tablespoon or two of black beans in sherry or wine; toss with cooked rice, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and cilantro.

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Le déjeuner sur l’herbe by Edouard Manet. Scandalous!

40 Mix cooked couscous with olive oil; add pimentón, cumin, salt and pepper, chopped shallot or red onion, toasted slivered almonds and orange zest and juice. Cooked cauliflower is good, too.

41 Toss a load of chopped parsley with a little cooked bulgur — say three to one in favor of the parsley. Chopped seeded tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper and lots of lemon juice. Call this real tabbouleh.

42 Make tabbouleh as above and embellish with more vegetables — like cucumbers and radishes — and/or crumbled feta, or bits of cooked chicken. Or smoked tofu, or bacon, whatever you can think of. How can you go wrong?

43 Make potato salad with mustard vinaigrette. Add chopped cooked asparagus, peas, green beans, etc. Or steamed mussels.

44 Make potato salad with mayo and crumbled bacon, and add grated Cheddar, celery, onion and chopped egg. You don’t have to pack much else except blood thinner.

45 Roast or boil sweet potatoes, but not too soft. Make a blended vinaigrette with a little chili, cumin, sherry vinegar and olive oil. Pack separately and toss together with scallions and mint.

46 Make egg salad with sesame oil and seeds, soy sauce, rice vinegar, scallions and chilies.

47 Egg salad with chopped seeded tomato, basil and extra virgin olive oil.

48 Egg salad with sour cream, smoked salmon and chopped chives.

49 Take cold pizza and lemon. Squeeze lemon over pizza. Really.

50 Mix a couple of cups of cold leftover cooked short-grain rice (if you happen to have risotto lying around, so much the better) with three eggs. Form balls; insert a small cube of mozzarella into each. Roll in bread crumbs and refrigerate if convenient. Deep or shallow fry until golden. Packed carefully, these will be fine. Call them supplì al telefono.

51 Purée roasted red peppers (jarred are O.K., piquillo are even better) with feta, marjoram or oregano and parsley, olive oil and garlic. Serve as a dip.

52 Make burritos, using the biggest flour tortillas you can find: rice, beans, any stewed or grilled meat or chicken, cilantro, salsa.

53 Marinate firm goat or feta cheese in olive oil, with rosemary, garlic, lemon zest, red and black pepper. You don’t need much of this, but it’s good.

54 Make a cheese ball: Mash together equal parts good grated Cheddar, crumbled blue and cream cheese, maybe thinned with a little sour cream. Shape into a ball and roll in fresh chopped herbs and/or hazelnuts. Take Triscuits. You think people won’t eat this?

55 Make simple syrup with rosemary; purée in a blender with watermelon, rum (optional) and lemon juice. Use more rum and call this a cocktail, or omit rum, add a little feta and eat with a spoon. Keep it cold in either case.

56 Use a spoon or melon baller to make equal size pieces of watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, or, I don’t know, Charentais. Mix together and sprinkle with lemon juice and salt or (better still) chili, sugar, salt and lime.

57 (A) Make fruit salad, however you like it; pack it. (B) Take seeded papaya halves, well wrapped. Put (A) in (B), drizzle with lemon, and serve.

58 Husk and quarter strawberries; at the last minute, combine with a little chopped tarragon, black pepper and balsamic vinegar. Goat cheese is good, too.

59 Cut melon into wedges and wrap thin slices of prosciutto around them. Stack in a container, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper. Take romaine lettuce and serve the wedges over the greens, with the accumulated juices as a dressing. It works.

60 Toss cornbread cubes with blueberries, lemon juice, olive oil and hazelnuts. Yes.

61 Toss chopped shrimp or shredded crab or lobster with lemon juice, chopped chives, salt and pepper. Use this to fill avocado halves. (If the avocado browns, blame me. It’ll still taste great.)

62 Boil potatoes, corn kernels and shrimp; drain and chill. Serve with crusty bread and lemon wedges along with mayo mixed with garlic and crumbled saffron. Call this Aegean seafood salad.

63 Drain a can of good quality salmon (preferably sockeye). Mix with cannellini beans, chopped tomato, diced shallot, chopped black or green olives, chopped parsley and basil. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Serve on bread (scooped out ciabatta is very nice) or over greens.

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Sandy filed for divorce shortly thereafter. No one could blame her.

64 Combine a bunch of watercress or arugula with thinly sliced radishes and red onion; add flaked smoked trout or whitefish. Dress at the last minute with olive oil, sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.

65 Cut salmon fillets (the skin can be on or off) into serving-size pieces, and sear them in oil on both sides until brown; set aside. Sauté onions, garlic, fresh chilies if you like; deglaze the pan with one part red wine vinegar, two parts each red wine and water. Pour over fish and chill for up to two days. This will work with mackerel, chicken, pork, etc. Call this escabeche.

66 Make escabeche with white wine and vinegar, dill and lemon slices.

67 Pan-cook shrimp in oil. Separately sauté fresh and dried chilies with lots of onions and garlic; add beer, reduce and pour glaze over shrimp.

68 Mix good canned tuna with diced fennel, tarragon, lemon juice, salt and pepper. No mayo.

69 Mix good tuna with mashed anchovies (packed in olive oil), grated Parmesan, bits of lemon and some lemon juice, olive oil and perhaps a thimbleful of Worcestershire. No mayo.

70 You want an idea for tuna with mayo, I know: Mix tuna with mayo and mustard; add capers and dill.

71 Cut chicken wings into two parts, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and grill or roast until crisp and golden. Whisk together mustard, honey and lemon juice, and toss with warm wings. Chill overnight (or eat them and take something else to the picnic).

72 Combine equal parts soy sauce, mirin and sake with a little sugar and sesame oil; boil for a minute. Use this to baste chicken thighs, pork or beef while you grill or broil it. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and/or chopped scallions — ginger and/or lemon are good too — just before serving. Call it teriyaki. Works with mackerel and other dark fish, too.

73 Make chicken teriyaki as above, then toss with a little mayo and perhaps more soy. Awesome.

74 Poach chicken and chop or shred. Toss with lemon juice, olive oil and herbs of your choice.

75 Pack in three containers: grilled sliced beef or pork, with its juices; watercress or arugula tossed with mint, basil and/or cilantro; a dressing of lime juice, sesame oil, fish or soy sauce and sugar. Dress greens; put meat and its juices over all.

76 Thinly slice grilled butterflied leg of lamb; toss with cherry tomatoes, olive oil, mint, feta and chopped red onion.

77 Grind chunks of lamb shoulder in a food processor with onion, parsley, salt and pepper. Make into small meatballs and sauté or roast. Serve sliced with pita wedges or in pita, with lemon, and a dollop of yogurt or tapenade.

78 Split small chickens or Cornish hens; grill or broil quickly, with lots of salt and pepper. Take them whole to the picnic with sandwich rolls, good barbecue sauce (O.K., and mayo) and pickles. Pick off the meat and go to it.

79 Cut quail in half, or not; marinate with salt, pepper, minced garlic, sage and oil for as long as you can — at least five minutes. Grill for 10 to 15 minutes.

80 Chop various salamis, mortadella, etc. and combine with chopped provolone, Parmesan, bell pepper, red onion and fresh oregano. Heavily dress in vinaigrette. Take shredded romaine lettuce for tossing. And bread, obviously.

81 Make chopped olive salad (I like onion, thyme, capers, a little garlic). Hollow out a medium-size round bread, or a few rolls. Put in olive salad and cured meats of your choice: ham, prosciutto, salami, mortadella, whatever; and provolone. Call this a muffuletta.

82 Slice open a good baguette and fill it with chopped or shredded cooked chicken tossed with fish sauce, chili, sugar, lime, garlic, scallions and Thai basil (or, in a dire emergency, regular).

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Blue sandwiches with daisies never caught on, and more’s the pity.

83 Fry chopped bacon until half done; add strips of boneless chicken and cook until done; pack. Take pitas, chopped seeded tomato, avocado, sliced red onion and shredded romaine. Assemble sandwiches in situ; dress with olive oil and cheap vinegar.

84 Blanch frozen fava beans in salted water. Pulse in a food processor with some mint or parsley until roughly chopped; season with salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice. Slice baguette and spread one half with fresh ricotta, then drizzle with olive oil. Spread the other half with the fava beans. Put arugula in there and sandwich-ize.

85 Butter both halves of a sliced baguette. Layer with thinly sliced cured ham — Serrano, prosciutto, Bayonne, York, whatever — and many halved cornichons. Call this une sandwich.

86 Halve a cucumber or two; scoop out the seeds. Slice it thin and salt it for a bit if you have time; in any case squeeze out some of the liquid. Combine it with shredded cooked chicken, ginger, soy sauce, salt, pepper and cilantro. On a baguette, it’s reminiscent of banh mi.

87 Grill a steak; slice it thin. Butter a baguette on one side; put Dijon on the other side. Pile the bread with steak, roasted peppers (canned are fine; piquillos are best), and something crunchy, like radicchio or fennel. A little blue cheese wouldn’t hurt either. Neither would avocado. (But not both.)

88 Cook peeled shrimp; little ones are best. Toss with pesto: lots. Put on small rolls. (In fact: cook anything; toss with pesto: lots. Put on small rolls.)

89 Dredge fish fillets in cornmeal. Sauté in abundant olive oil until crisp. Let cool a bit, then use for sandwiches, packing tomatoes separately.

90 Hard-cook some eggs; slice them. Sauté some spinach with oil and garlic until quite dry; chop. Make mustardy sandwiches with baguettes, rolls or any bread that can absorb some oil.

91 Cook fusilli or other cut pasta; rinse in cool water, but don’t bother to chill. Combine with chopped seeded tomatoes, cubed fresh mozzarella, chopped basil, olive oil, salt and pepper. (Good with olives, too.) Do not call this pasta salad, because pasta salad is no good, and this is.

92 Shred carrots and zucchini. Mix lime juice, soy sauce, grated ginger and sesame oil. Cook soba noodles, drain and rinse under cold water. Toss noodles with the vegetables and dressing.

93 Cook rice vermicelli and drain. Toss with kimchi, lots of cilantro and cooked chopped shrimp or chicken.

94 Cook garlic in olive oil until just sizzling; add clams (you can use canned clams but it will not be the same), and, cook, stirring, until they open. Remove, chop and combine with the garlic, oil, any liquid in pan, chopped tomato and cooked pasta. Add more oil as needed, with lemon juice, parsley, salt (if needed), pepper and oregano, if you like.

95 Combine equal parts honey and brown sugar with a little oil and bring to a boil; toss with good granola until the mixture is very sticky. You can add more nuts, or raisins and, yes, O.K., you can add chocolate chips. Line a pan with waxed paper or film with oil. Press mixture into pan and let cool. Call these granola bars.

96 Cook a couple of pounds of berries with some sugar and a little water until they break down. Layer in a plastic container with slices of good pound cake. Pour any remaining juices on top. You might want some cream.

97 Make sandwiches of angel food cake and ganache or fruit compote.

98 Mix peanut butter and cream cheese. Spread between two good cookies and make sandwiches. Or mix honey, lemon zest and cream cheese. Make sandwiches with ginger snaps.

99 Put sorbet (make it yourself if you have time) in a really cold thermos; it will be slushy by the time you open it. Add a splash of Champagne or Gewürztraminer if you like, maybe some mint, and eat like cold soup.

100 Take a container of melted chocolate thinned with cream or crème fraîche with strawberries, pineapple or bananas for dipping.

101 Take the makings of S’mores. Build a fire.

TOO DAMN HOT, REDUX

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It isn’t even 10 AM and it’s 91 degrees. This is how the day is going to go.

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But a girl has to eat, even if girl doesn’t feel like doing much more than ripping open a bag of Ruffles and scooping up some pre-made dip, but that is the Road to Perdition, especially if accompanied by a giant bottle of Coke.

More Mark Bittman? Yes, please. From July 21, 2009.

101 Simple Salads for the Season.

Summer may not be the best time to cook, but it’s certainly among the best times to eat. Toss watermelon and peaches with some ingredients you have lying around already, and you can produce a salad that’s delicious, unusual, fast and perfectly seasonal.

That’s the idea behind the 101 ideas found in this section. In theory, each salad takes 20 minutes or less. Honestly, some may take you a little longer. But most minimize work at the stove and capitalize on the season, when tomatoes, eggplant, herbs, fruit, greens and more are plentiful and excellent.

This last point is important. Not everything needs to be farmers’ market quality, but it’s not too much to expect ripe fruit, fragrant herbs and juicy greens.

Salt, to taste, is a given in all of these recipes. Pepper, too (if I want you to use a lot of pepper, I say so).

Herein, then, are enough salad ideas to tide you over until the weather cools down.

MOSTLY VEGAN SALADS

1. Cube watermelon and combine with tomato chunks, basil and basic vinaigrette. You can substitute peach for the watermelon or the tomato (but not both, O.K.?). You can also add bacon or feta, but there goes the vegan-ness.

2. Mix wedges of tomatoes and peaches, add slivers of red onion, a few red-pepper flakes and cilantro. Dress with olive oil and lime or lemon juice. Astonishing.

3. A nice cucumber salad: Slice cucumbers thin (if they’re fat and old, peel and seed them first), toss with red onions and salt, then let sit for 20 to 60 minutes. Rinse, dry, dress with cider vinegar mixed with Dijon mustard; no oil necessary.

4. Shave raw asparagus stalks with a vegetable peeler. Discard the tough first pass of the peeler — i.e., the peel — but do use the tips, whole. Dress with lemon vinaigrette and coarse salt. (Chopped hard-boiled eggs optional but good.)

5. Grate or very thinly slice Jerusalem artichokes; mix with pitted and chopped oil-cured olives, olive oil, lemon juice and a sprinkling of coarsely ground cumin. Unusual and wonderful.

6. Sichuan slaw: Toss bean sprouts, shredded carrots and celery, minced fresh chili, soy sauce, sesame oil and a bit of sugar. Top with chopped peanuts and chopped basil, mint and/or cilantro. (The full trio is best.)

7. Grate carrots, toast some sunflower seeds, and toss with blueberries, olive oil, lemon juice and plenty of black pepper. Sweet, sour, crunchy, soft.

8. Chop or slice radishes (or jicama, or the ever-surprising kohlrabi) and combine with chopped or sliced unripe (i.e., still crunchy) mango, lime juice and mint or cilantro.

9. Chop or slice jicama (or radishes or kohlrabi) and mango and mix with coconut milk, lime juice, curry powder and cilantro or mint.

10. Cook whole grape tomatoes in olive oil over high heat until they brown lightly, sprinkling with curry powder. Cool a bit, then toss with chopped arugula, loads of chopped mint and lime juice.

11. Chop and steam baby or grown-up bok choy until crisp-tender, then shock it in ice water. Drain, then toss with halved cherry tomatoes, capers, olive oil and lemon juice.

12. Combine sliced fennel and prune plums; serve with vinaigrette spiked with minced ginger. Nice pairing.

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This woman has the disturbing expression of someone being forced to do something against her will.

13. A red salad: Combine tomato wedges with halved strawberries, basil leaves, shaved Parmesan and balsamic vinegar.

14. A classic Moroccan thing: Thinly slice carrots, or grate or shred them (the food processor makes quick work of this). Toss with toasted cumin seeds, olive oil, lemon juice and cilantro. Raisins are good in here, too. There is no better use of raw carrots.

15. Cut cherry or grape tomatoes in half; toss with soy sauce, a bit of dark sesame oil and basil or cilantro. I love this — the tomato juice-soy thing is incredible.

16. Slice fennel and crisp apple about the same thickness (your choice). Combine, then dress with mustardy vinaigrette and chopped parsley. Come fall, this will be even better.

17. With thanks to Szechuan Gourmet restaurant: Finely chop celery and mix with a roughly equal amount of pressed or smoked tofu, chopped. Dress with peanut oil warmed with chili flakes and Sichuan peppercorns, then mixed with soy sauce.

18. Roughly chop cooked or canned chickpeas (you can pulse them, carefully, in a food processor) and toss with olive oil, lemon juice, lots of chopped fresh parsley and mint, and a few chopped tomatoes. Call this chickpea tabbouleh.

19. Mix cooked cannellini or other white beans, chopped cherry or grape tomatoes and arugula or baby spinach. Lightly toast sliced garlic in olive oil with rosemary and red pepper flakes; cool slightly, add lemon zest or juice or both, then pour over beans.

20. Shred Napa cabbage and radishes. The dressing is roasted peanuts, lime juice, peanut or other oil, cilantro and fresh or dried chili, all whizzed in a blender. Deliciousness belies ease.

21. Dice cucumbers (if they’re fat and old, peel and seed them first) and toss with cubes of avocado, a little mirin (or honey, but then it’s not vegan), rice vinegar and soy sauce. (You could mix in a little lump crab meat, really not vegan, even rice, and call it a California roll salad.)

22. Thinly slice button mushrooms; toss with finely chopped carrots and celery and mix with mung bean sprouts. Finish with peanut or olive oil, sherry vinegar, a little soy sauce and minced ginger. (This is a super vinaigrette, by the way.)

23. Thinly slice some cucumbers (if they’re fat and old, peel and seed them first), red onions, radishes and fresh chili pepper. Soak for a few minutes in equal amounts vinegar and water, with some salt and sugar. When they taste lightly pickled, drain and serve, alone or over rice.

24. Blanch spinach, then drain and shock in ice water. Squeeze it dry, chop it and toss it with toasted pine nuts, raisins, olive oil and a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar. Capers are good, too. Quite elegant, actually.

25. Combine chopped bell peppers, tomatoes, red onion, chilies and cilantro, then toss with corn tortilla strips, toasted in a 350-degree oven until crisp (or yes, use packaged chips; why not?). Dust with chili powder and lots of lime juice.

26. Combine mushroom caps and thinly sliced red onions with olive oil; broil gently until tender and browned. Toss with a lot of chopped fresh parsley or basil (or both) and a simple vinaigrette. Some chopped escarole, arugula or watercress is good, too.

27. Cook whole, unpeeled eggplant in a dry, hot skillet or on a grill, turning occasionally, until completely collapsed and soft. Chop and toss with toasted pita, toasted pine nuts, cooked white beans and halved cherry tomatoes. Dress with olive oil, lemon juice and lots of black pepper. Or a (non-vegan) yogurt dressing is good, especially one laced with tahini.

28. Toss mâche or another soft green with toasted slivered almonds and roughly chopped fresh figs. Thin some almond butter with water and sherry vinegar to taste and use as a dressing. Some will like this with fresh goat cheese.

29. Pit and halve cherries (or halve and pit cherries), then cook gently with olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar until they break down. Toss with chopped radicchio, endive, escarole or a combination, some toasted hazelnuts and more oil and vinegar, if necessary.

30. Fast, grown-up potato salad: Boil bite-size red potatoes. While still warm, dress them with olive oil, lemon juice, whole grain mustard, capers and parsley. Chopped shallots, bell peppers, etc., all welcome, too.

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“Gimme a big ol’ slice o’ potato salad,” said no one ever.

31. Roast beets whole (or buy them precooked), then slice or cube and toss with a little chopped garlic (or a lot of roasted garlic), toasted walnuts, orange juice and olive oil.

32. Same deal with the beets, but toss with cooked corn, arugula, olive oil, sherry vinegar and chopped shallots.

33. The real five-bean: Chickpeas, cannellini or other white beans, kidney or other red beans, steamed string beans and steamed yellow wax beans. Toss with vinaigrette, chopped scallions or red onion, and parsley.

34. Grill quartered romaine hearts, radicchio and/or endive. Drizzle with olive oil and sherry vinegar, and add dill and chopped shallots. Teeny-tiny croutons are great on this.

35. Combine cooked or canned black beans with shredded cabbage and this vinaigrette: olive oil, fresh orange juice, not much sherry vinegar, ground cumin.

36. Mix cooked or canned chickpeas with toasted coconut, shredded carrots, chopped celery, curry powder, olive oil, lime juice and cilantro.

VEGETARIAN SALADS

37. Cube smoked tofu, then brush it with a mixture of honey and orange juice; broil until browned. Toss with chopped cucumbers, radishes and peas or pea shoots; drizzle with soy sauce and lime juice.

38. Cube watermelon; combine with roughly chopped mint, crumbled feta, sliced red onion and chopped Kalamata olives. Dress lightly with olive oil and lemon juice. Despite saltiness of feta and olives, this may need salt.

39. Yucatecan street food as salad: Roast fresh corn kernels in a pan with a little oil; toss with cayenne or minced chilis, lime juice and a little queso fresco. Cherry tomatoes are optional.

40. Slice cucumber and top with capers, olive oil, lots of pepper and little dollops of fresh ricotta. Note: cucumbers, ricotta and oil must all be really good.

41. Halve avocados and scoop out some but not all of their flesh. Roughly chop and toss with black beans, queso fresco, cilantro, chopped tomatillos and lime juice. Serve in the meaty avocado shells.

42. Trim crusts if necessary from day-or-two-old bread (or even three-day-old bread), cube and marinate in black olive tapenade thinned with more olive oil. Add chopped capers and toss with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. (Anchovies optional.)

43. Grate raw beets (use the food processor to avoid ruining everything within spattering distance) and toss with watercress or arugula. Top with sherry vinaigrette and a little goat cheese. Especially obvious, perhaps, but also especially popular.

44. Make a crisp grilled cheese sandwich, with good bread and not too much good cheese. Let it cool, then cut into croutons. Put them on anything, but especially tomato and basil salad. This you will do forever.

45. Halve or quarter cooked artichoke hearts (the best are fresh and grilled, but you can use canned or frozen) and combine with cherry tomatoes, bits of feta or Parmesan or both, olive oil and lemon juice.

46. Sauté mushrooms and shallots in olive oil. Add a lot of spinach, chopped unless the leaves are small. When it wilts, stir in parsley and crumbled blue cheese. Feels like a steakhouse side-dish salad.

47. Thinly slice raw button mushrooms; combine with sliced or shaved Parmesan, parsley and a vinaigrette of olive oil, sherry vinegar and shallots.

48. Toss roughly chopped dandelion greens (or arugula or watercress) with chopped preserved lemon, chickpeas, crumbled feta and olive oil. (Before you start cursing me out, here’s a quick way to make preserved lemons: chop whole lemons and put in a bowl with the juice of another lemon or two, sprinkle with a fair amount of salt and let sit for an hour or so.)

49. Toss greens with walnuts, blue cheese and raspberries; drizzle with a simple vinaigrette. Sell for $14 a serving.

50. It’s puttanesca-ish: Egg salad with pitted black olives, chopped tomatoes, capers, anchovies (optional), a tiny bit of garlic and some red onion; mayonnaise as needed.

51. Arrange sliced ripe tomatoes and hard-boiled eggs on a platter; scatter a handful of chopped pitted green olives on top. Drizzle with a dressing made with olive oil, sherry vinegar and a teaspoon of pimentón.

52. Chop hard-boiled eggs and mix with just enough mayonnaise to bind; spoon into endive leaves. Top each with a small canned sardine and drizzle with a vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon juice and mustard.

53. Peel beets and grate them in a food processor. Mix equal parts plain yogurt and tahini, and toss with the beets along with lemon juice and za’atar (a mixture of toasted sesame seeds, dried green herbs and ground sumac; you can make it yourself using dried thyme).

54. Slice roasted red peppers (if you must use canned, try to find piquillos) and fresh mozzarella. Toss with cooked white beans, olive oil, red wine vinegar, a chopped shallot and fresh rosemary or parsley.

SALADS WITH SEAFOOD

55. Mix watercress with chopped smoked salmon, avocado, red onion and capers. Make a vinaigrette with olive oil, sherry vinegar and mustard powder.

56. Salade niçoise, sort of: On or around a bed of greens, make mounds of olives, cooked new potatoes and green beans (warm or at room temperature), good tomatoes, capers, fennel slivers, hard-cooked eggs and good quality Italian canned tuna. None of these is crucial; you get the idea. Serve with vinaigrette or aioli.

57. Toss cubes of day-or-more-old good bread with soy sauce, chopped sautéed shrimp, chopped radishes and cilantro. Like a weird shrimp toast panzanella.

58. Sear tuna until rare (for that matter, you could leave it raw) and cut it into small cubes. Toss with shredded jicama or radish and shredded Napa cabbage; season with mirin, soy sauce and cilantro. Avocado and/or wasabi paste are great with this, too.

59. Sear tuna, or use good canned tuna. Chop it up and mix with chopped olives, capers, tomatoes, parsley and olive oil.

P1020109

Canned tuna with warm white beans, arugula, chopped red onion, chopped tomato, olive oil.

60. Ditto on the tuna. Mix with chopped apples, halved seedless grapes, chopped red onion, olive oil, a bit of cumin and black pepper.

61. Mix canned salmon (sockeye, or use cooked fresh) with capers, chopped celery, yogurt or mayonnaise, and lemon juice. Serve on greens or in endive leaves.

62. Dust shrimp with chili powder. Sauté in butter or oil (or a combination) with fresh corn kernels and flavorful cooking greens (bok choy is good, as is watercress). Add halved cherry tomatoes and lime juice at the last minute.

63. Sunday brunch salad: Mix diced cucumbers, chopped tomato, minced red onion and capers with bits of smoked salmon. Dress with lemon juice (you won’t need much oil, if any). Take a step further by adding croutons of cubed toasted bagels.

64. Alternative Sunday brunch: Shred or chop cucumbers (if they’re fat and old, peel and seed them first), then toss with flaked smoked trout or whitefish, capers, dill, lemon juice and olive oil.

65. In a hot pan, flash-cook cut-up squid in a little olive oil for no more than two minutes. Toss with cooked or canned chickpeas, chopped bell peppers, lemon juice, a little more oil and parsley.

66. In a hot pan, sear sea scallops for a minute or two on each side, depending on size. Slice or chop, then toss with thinly sliced fennel and lemon or orange vinaigrette and some chopped fennel fronds.

67. Bread salad for anchovy lovers: Chop together many anchovies, a few capers, lemon juice and olive oil (or anchovy oil). Toss with cubes of toasted bread and chopped tomatoes or halved cherry or grape tomatoes.

68. Mix crab meat with pan-roasted corn, chopped avocado, halved cherry or grape tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice and perhaps a bit of cilantro and crumbled ancho chili.

69. Stir-fry small or chopped shrimp in olive or peanut oil with lots of ginger; while still warm, combine with tomato wedges, chopped romaine, cilantro, scallions and lots of lime juice. Good in pita.

SALADS WITH MEAT

70. Shred Brussels sprouts in the food processor, preferably with the slicing disk. Toss with vinaigrette and crumbled bacon.

71. Combine sliced green tomatoes and sliced fresh mozzarella; top with roughly chopped basil, olive oil, black pepper and crumbled bacon.

72. Sort-of carpaccio salad: Broil or grill skirt or sirloin steak very rare and slice very thin. Arrange on a plate with tomato wedges, lettuce and lemon juice.

73. Hawaiitalian: Combine pineapple chunks with bits of any cured pork product — cooked guanciale is ideal, or any ham — and a not-too-subtle chili vinaigrette.

74. Julienne red, yellow and orange bell peppers; mix with thinly sliced red onion, olive oil and cooked crumbled sausage or chopped salami.

75. The Little Italy salad: Chop or julienne salami and prosciutto, then toss with cubed mozzarella, chopped tomato, pepperoncini, oil and wine vinegar.

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I don’t know what happened here, but “train wreck” comes to mind.

76. Slice fresh figs — many, if you live where they grow — and top with crumbled bacon, balsamic vinegar (the best you have) and crumbled blue cheese.

77. Combine shredded cabbage or lettuce with bits of good turkey, Swiss cheese and rye croutons. Top with good old Russian dressing, call it a turkey sandwich salad and don’t knock it until you try it.

78. What happens when your Chicago hot dog falls apart: Toss together tomato wedges, chopped pickles, hot peppers, shredded lettuce and a few slices of broiled or grilled hot dog. Dress with a vinaigrette made with mustard (should be yellow for authenticity, but …) and celery salt. (You could throw in freshly made croutons; inauthentic, but better than a hot dog bun.)

79. Sear a steak and move it to a cutting board (don’t wash the pan); wait a minute or two, then slice. Cut kale (preferably black, also known as Tuscan, or dino kale) into thin ribbons and toss in the pan over high heat for a minute. Turn off the heat, add chopped black olives, olive oil and sherry vinegar. Serve kale with steak on top.

80. Sort-of-Cobb salad: Choose any combination of hard-cooked eggs, chopped prosciutto, cooked chicken, crumbled Gorgonzola, chopped tomatoes, chickpeas or white beans, sliced red onion, olives. Make vinaigrette with capers and anchovies.

81. Soak sliced prune plums or figs in balsamic vinegar for a few minutes, then add olive oil, chopped celery and red onion, shreds of roasted or grilled chicken, chopped fresh marjoram or oregano and chopped almonds. Serve on top of or toss with greens. So good.

82. Cut pancetta into matchsticks and crisp in a skillet with some oil, then caramelize onions in the fat. Toss both with chopped bitter greens — radicchio, escarole or endive, for example — toasted pine nuts and halved cherry or grape tomatoes.

83. Toss thinly sliced Vidalia or other sweet onions with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Sear a skirt steak and let sit a minute; slice it thin. Toss salad greens with the onions, roasted red peppers, and steak; add a little more oil and vinegar if necessary.

SALADS WITH NOODLES

84. Spring rolls, unrolled: One at a time, soften a few sheets of rice paper in warm water. Drain, pat dry, cut into strips and toss with chopped cucumber, grated carrots, chopped cilantro, bean sprouts, chili flakes and chopped roasted peanuts. Dress with toasted sesame oil, fish sauce or soy sauce, and rice vinegar or lime juice. A few shrimp are a nice addition.

85. Mix lots of arugula with somewhat less cold whole wheat penne, lemon zest, olive oil and Parmesan. The idea is an arugula salad with pasta, not a pasta salad with arugula.

86. Toss chilled cooked soba noodles with diced cucumber (if they’re fat and old, peel and seed them first), a small amount of hijiki reconstituted with water, toasted sesame seeds and a vinaigrette laced with soy sauce and miso.

87. Cold not-sesame noodles: Combine about a half-cup peanut butter with a tablespoon soy sauce and enough coconut milk to make the mixture creamy (about a half cup), along with garlic and chili flakes in a blender or food processor. Toss sauce with cooked and cooled noodles, a load of mint, Thai basil, and/or cilantro, and lime juice. Shredded cucumber and carrots optional.

P1020101

Sesame noodles (sesame mayonnaise adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook) with leftover quick-pickled vegetables.

88. Toss cooked pasta with roasted red peppers, toasted walnuts, fresh goat cheese, basil and olive oil. Corny, but still good.

89. Soak or cook rice noodles, drain and rinse; toss with cubed unripe mango, chopped peanuts, shredded carrot and minced scallion. Make a dressing of rice vinegar, fish sauce, lime juice, chili and a bit of sugar.

90. Sort of classic pasta salad: Pasta, artichoke hearts, sliced prosciutto or salami, chopped plum tomato. Dress with olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar, perhaps with some mustard.

GRAIN SALADS

91. Cereal for grown-ups: Start with puffed brown rice; toss with chopped tomatoes, scallions, a minced chili, cooked or canned chickpeas and toasted unsweetened coconut. Dress with coconut milk and lime juice.

92. Simmer a cup of bulgur and some roughly chopped cauliflower florets until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Toss with chopped tarragon, roughly chopped hazelnuts, minced garlic, Dijon mustard, olive oil and lemon juice.

93. Mix leftover rice with lemon or lime juice, soy sauce and a combination of sesame and peanut oils. Microwave if necessary to soften the rice, then serve at room temperature, tossed with sprouts, shredded radishes, chopped scallions, bits of cooked meat or fish if you like and more soy sauce.

94. Cook and cool quinoa. Toss with olive oil, loads of lemon juice, tons of parsley, some chopped tomatoes and, if you like, toasted pine nuts. Call it quinoa tabbouleh.

95. Mix cooked couscous or quinoa with orange zest and juice, olive oil, maybe honey, sliced oranges, raisins or dried cranberries, chopped red onion and chopped almonds. Serve over greens, or not.

96. Cook short-grain white rice in watered-down coconut milk (be careful that it doesn’t burn) and a few cardamom pods. While warm, toss with peas (they can be raw if they’re fresh and tender), chopped cashews or pistachios, a pinch of chili flakes and chopped raw spinach.

97. Toss cooked, cooled farro, wheat berries, barley or other chewy grain with chopped-up grapes. Add olive oil, lemon juice and thinly sliced romaine lettuce; toss again, with ricotta salata or feta if you want.

98. Toss cooked bulgur with cooked chickpeas, quartered cherry or grape tomatoes, a little cumin, lots of chopped parsley, and lemon juice.

99. Toss cooked quinoa with fresh sliced apricots, cherries, pecans, and enough lemon and black pepper to make the whole thing savory.

100. Mash a canned chipotle with some of its adobo and stir with olive oil and lime juice. Toss with drained canned hominy, fresh corn cut from the cob (or drained pinto beans), cilantro and green onions.

101. Cook a pot of short-grain rice. While it’s still hot, toss with raw grated zucchini, fermented black beans, sriracha, sesame oil, sake and a touch of rice vinegar. Add bits of leftover roast chicken or pork if you have it, and pass soy sauce at the table.

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