A quiet Sunday morning, accompanied by the noise of the cats gobbling up their breakfast and parts of the house slowly wakening up. A good time for a ritual first inspired by Tamar Adler’s Everlasting Meal some years back, slowly turned into a kind of habit for myself.
First, a large cup of hot black tea. Then, going through some of yesterday’s haul from the market: cleaning, drying and de-stemming/sorting a small bunch of chives, two of parsley, a giant one of cilantro, and three of fat, dark pink radishes. All grown right here in Vienna’s outskirts and brought to markets in the city, sold for almost outrageously little.
The radishes go into a bowl in the fridge and the prepared herbs into sealable plastic bags or containers lined with a paper towel to soak up excessive moisture (the enemy in the fight against rot). Their stems are frozen, to be added to stocks and pots of beans or finely minced into soffritto bases of soups and braises; the cilantro stems I sometimes blitz with garlic and ginger into a paste, then frozen in ice-cube trays and added to curries.
And the radish tops, which bruise so easily, will be blanched right away (also because there is simply not enough room in the fridge for them in their voluminous raw state). Transformed into tangles of dark, slightly bitter-spicy green, they will be wonderful ripassati in olive oil with garlic and chili, tossed with pasta (and some ricotta and lemon, maybe); or should I add them to a torta salata / börek / spanakopita made of wilted greens, eggs and yoghurt/cheese encased by flaky layers of dough tomorrow? Maybe the weather will even be decent enough for an Easter Monday picnic, where this would be perfect …
I don’t do this after every visit to the market, but if I can manage to do so, I know a great week lies ahead: being able to just grab handfuls of herbs and add them to everything I cook or assemble will make it all better and me truly happy – and actually use up all the herbs instead of letting them go to waste out of laziness. There are still a few heads of salad and a giant bunch of the season’s first rainbow chard in the fridge, both still dirty from the earth and possibly including a tiny snail or two … if I was a real hero I would tackle them as well. But for now I pour myself another cup of tea to warm my hands (also well-soaked in cold water during all of the above) and climb back into bed, rather content as it is.
#parsley #cilantro #radishes #radishtops #chives #herbs #greens #spring #mealprep #mornings