It’s such a rich season that I can hardly figure out what to be most excited about! It’s post-vacation, which is always an inspiring time as I hearken to all the new things I saw, tasted, experienced during time away. I’m always inspired anew to try what I’ve tasted, bring back some of the flavors – and the feelings – of being away, incorporate that richness into daily life.
Our week in Amsterdam was full of discoveries. I came away leaving a bit of my heart there, for this time I explored the backstreets and byways, spent good time with friends and their families, learned the fine points of rijstaffel with its dessert of spekkoek, and Dutch pancakes with – and without – apples, the glories of Waterland, and more.
And now, right here, abundance is everywhere. The apple trees, and the soil around them, are brimming; the tomatoes that were green when I left are almost fully red; the arugula makes much of the garden look as though all it needs is a tasty vinaigrette; herbs are ready to be harvested and dried, or preserved in other ways. To top it all off, my friend Nadia who recently taught me how to make “cornes de gazelles” left me a plate of “end of Ramadan” cookies, which were waiting when we arrived home. What a fine moment!
While I would love to post a recipe for Spekkoek or Dutch pancakes, or even Ramadan pastries, you’ll forgive me if I don’t. I need to test them first, and the suitcases aren’t even quite unpacked. So, a recipe for arugula salad with bacon and hazelnuts instead, which I will make tonight, with arugula and apples straight from the garden!
ARUGULA, BACON AND HAZELNUT SALAD
SALADE A LA ROQUETTE, BACON ET NOISETTES
4 ounces (120g) bacon, rind removed if necessary, cut in very thin vertical strips
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Fine sea salt, to taste
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned, coarsely chopped
8 cups arugula, rinsed, dried, torn into large bite-sized pieces
2 cups lettuce leaves, your choice, rinsed, dried, torn into large bite-sized pieces
1. Cook the bacon: heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat until it is hot but not smoking. Add the bacon and cook, stirring often, until it is golden and just crisp, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with newspaper.
2. In a large bowl combine the vinegar with the salt and whisk until the salt is dissolved. Whisk in the mustard, then the oil, then season with pepper, to taste. Add the arugula and the lettuce and toss, toss, toss until the leaves are thoroughly coated with the sauce. Add the bacon and the hazelnuts and toss thoroughly.
3. Divide the salad among four plates, making sure to scoop up the hazelnuts and bacon from the bottom of the bowl and distribute them evenly among the plates.
Serves 4 as a first course