I like the word “supper.” It just has a homey, civilized vibe. Supper was traditionally known as a midday meal, the main meal of the day. Now that the standard main meal of the day is at nighttime, supper became dinner. My best childhood grade-school friend, Annette, was German and when I would go to her house after school (almost every day) to watch cartoons and play outside, her mother would be preparing supper, to be eaten at around 3 p.m. The house always smelled so good! Usually some type of stew or braised meat or hearty soup, some potatoes, maybe sauerkraut or a hot green vegetable, rye bread and a green salad were served. Sadly, when I heard the clank of the plates as the supper table was set, that was my cue to journey home.
At my own home, if I came directly from school, my mother always served up a snack, but it was a snack and not a meal . . . usually orange sections with a little sugar on them, a glass of milk with date bread, or some pretzels with lebanon bologna (a tart, salami-type, but not hard, bologna with origins in Lebanon, Pennsylvania) and hard cheese.
My preference has always been to eat my main meal at midday, even though I either feel pressured or have some sort of filing deadline right around lunchtime so that at work half an hour, and a “snack” seems more acceptable. I like to skip breakfast and be truly hungry when I eat . . . and I prefer a light dinner of some broth and a few noodles, and a vegetable, maybe a roasted beet with salt, or half a sweet potato. If I eat a proper breakfast, at home or out, I don’t eat lunch and will have my default dinner of burger on top of greens. I like to give my tummy some long hours to rest and digest between feedings, rather than snacking and eating little meals often throughout the day.
So my habit has become to work through the lunch hour and then around 2:30 or 3 p.m. disappear for an hour and enjoy a real meal, usually a meal I have packed for myself. My default lunch is a couple of hard boiled eggs or a can of tuna, an avocado, a bag of leafy greens, and a couple tablespoons of fermented vegetable. I usually mix everything together, throw a dollop of yoghurt and squeeze half a lemon in to moisten, crack some pepper on top, and eat with a spoon. If I am really hungry and/or have worked out vigorously in the morning, I will lay a base of cooked grain on the bottom. Often I will have a little thermos of broth too.
This week I wanted to make a salad based on the wonderful creation from Farmshop with arugula, big fat fresh walnuts, walnut oil, sherry vinegar, poached beets, avocado, shaved fennel and quinoa that I’ve eaten many times. In place of quinoa I used wheat berries; in place of arugula I used purple mizuna; I added purple asparagus and asparagus “coins” (they remind me of lentils) I found at this week’s Farmer’s Market; and, I added yoghurt so the salad would “stick together” and I could place it on toast. It. Was. Delicious.
Here’s a very rough narrative recipe:
First slice off 2″ of the tops of the asparagus, and then slice thinly about 2″ of the remaining (non-woody part) of the stalks.
Then roast your asparagus heads for about 5 minutes with olive oil and salt, poach a large beet and cut into sections, and assemble the rest of your ingredients: the asparagus “coins,” some leafy greens, an avocado, walnuts, wheat berries or another chewy grain, shaved fennel and some torn fennel fronds.
Place in a bowl with salt and pepper, toss with walnut oil and some sherry or other delicious vinegar. The walnut oil is very important and I encourage you to find a good quality one and use it. It adds such a wonderful flavor to the salad. Add a dollup of yoghurt (greek).
Toss well. I had to transfer to a bigger bowl so as to not spill all over my living room (photo studio) floor.
What I like to do next is mound the mixture onto a piece of toast.