Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Watercress and Apple Salad with Peanut Dressing (Page 138)


  • Date: Monday, August 18, 2008 -- 8pm
  • Location: Palo Alto, CA
  • Kitchen: Emilee and Brian's Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Emilee, Brian, Matty, and Tom
  • Recipe Rating: B

This was another side dish for a collaborative meal I made with Brian last week. (Side note: I can't believe that was last week -- it seems like at least three weeks ago. Ah, traveling...) Anyway, Brian made a delicious pasta dish and I was looking for a salad to go along with it. This salad was extremely simple. Watercress and matchsticks of apple were tossed with a dressing of yogurt, peanut butter, water, salt and lime juice. The result was better than I expected. The dressing was subtle (in fact it was borderline bland -- it could have used more salt). It had a mild peanut butter flavor which was obviously delicious with the apples and surprisingly inoffensive on the watercress. In fact the dressing mellowed out the peppery watercress very nicely. Brian commented that the watercress was less sharp than he was used to. So we did a little experiment where we licked the dressing off a few leaves and then ate them, and it turned out that the plain watercress had just as much bite as you would expect, but the dressing had balanced it out. I accidentally put too many apples into the salad (I halved everything in the recipe except the apples) which made the dish a little too sweet, but that was obviously user error. No one particularly disliked this salad, but no one was crazy about it either. It's the kind of recipe that I have reasonably positive feelings about, but I am unlikely to make again.

Here is the recipe.

Over the summer, some colleagues of Matty's invited us over to dinner. We were eating at their place and our host started teasing me about how he was frightened to make dinner for me. People often make this comment (although it is totally ridiculous -- I love it when people make me dinner!), but in this case it really made me laugh because his evidence that I was a good cook was based solely on having eaten lunch regularly with Matty. While we were apart last year I froze food in individual servings for Matty and brought them in a cooler on the airplane when I visited him in Boston. He would often eat these microwave meals for lunch. It never really occurred to me that these lunches were out of the ordinary until his colleague made that comment...

I think he was right though. Matty is in Indiana now, and I packed a lunch for us to eat at the department today. We were eating in my office, and when I had it all spread out on my desk it seemed to me that perhaps this wasn't a typical packed lunch. It included: braised fennel with olives, sliced pork with a pan sauce, a (semi-)homemade biscuit [the sublettors left behind half a box of Bisquick], wheat crackers with a wedge of soft cheese, and orange segments. My lunch packing philosophy is to throw in whatever leftovers are in the fridge and then add whatever it takes to make it into a reasonably balanced meal! Perhaps I do go a little overboard though...

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