A few weeks ago at the Six-Pack House of Beer West, I interrogated Jennie Geisler, Lifestyles Reporter for the Erie Times-News. Talking to people who actually write for a living gets me in a lather. I want details. No minutea is beneath my interest. In the course of putting together the Wednesday paper’s Food Section, Jennie experiments in the kitchen, writes recipes, tracks down other good ones, and invites contributions from locals who like to cook. She humored me for a good fifteen minutes, a little surprised that I was eager to hear the nuts and bolts of her work. Somewhere in our conversation I must have admitted to spending hours in the kitchen because half an hour after she said goodbye her colleague Gerry Weiss’s cell phone rang. (Gerry’s part of the Friday Six-Pack crowd as well as a neighbor, fine writer, and friend.) Was that Lutheran pastor still around? Could she talk to him? Sure.
Turns out nearly all the locals who contribute recipes to Jennie’s Wednesday Food Section are women. A male contributor would be nice. Could I come up with something? I mentioned a dish that includes a couple of my favorite ingredients, and she gave me the go ahead.
A pocket of time opened up this week, so I paid attention to what I was doing at the counter and cutting board, wrote up the recipe, named it in honor of my avocation, and hit send. Jennie will need to edit the grin off my sophomoric presentation, but I thought my fellow nappers might enjoy seeing the fool I’d have made of myself without her editorial intervention. Here’s what I came up with:
A Napper’s Salad
I call this dish a napper’s salad because it’s a culinary Sunday afternoon nap—luxurious, delicious, and refreshing. Given the ingredients, I considered pretentious salad, but went with a positive spin instead.
1. Yes, I put tips before ingredients. With a napper’s salad, method is more important than measurement.
2. Pairing: a fruit-forward pinot noir or a hefeweizen both go great with this salad—while you’re making it! Iced tea with fresh mint wins, too. While you’re eating, anything rinses this down, though I’d advise against port, Jack Daniels, and Ovaltine.
3. Amounts and sizes don’t matter much. I cut ingredients up bite size, but whatever. And if I’m out of artichoke hearts or don’t have time to roast red peppers, oh well.
4. Lots of tomato in a napper’s salad, so much that it can get weepy. If you’re a tidy soul, go with grape or cherry tomatoes.
5. Keeps well for a few days, especially if you don’t mind a kind of soupy salad. Mix it up, continue eating.
6. Don’t look for instructions below. Just toss everything together.
2 red bell peppers (roasted and chopped)
4 or 5 large tomatoes (chopped)
3 avocados (chopped)
2 cups artichoke hearts (chopped; marinaded is fine, but best to drain)
2 cups pitted kalamata olives (chop 1 cup rough; leave 1 cup whole)
1 bunch asparagus (steamed and chopped; leave raw if you like; not limp)
6 oz. crumbled feta cheese (that’s all I had; 12 oz. even better)
1 bunch cilantro (chopped fine)
1 ½ – 2 limes (the juice)
olive oil (drizzle and mix; about 1/3 cup)
salt and pepper to taste
That’s it. I told Jennie I’m Pastor of Abiding Hope Lutheran Church, a blogger, and author of a forthcoming book, Oh! Be Joyful: Notes to My Future Grandchildren. Space is tight, so I doubt much other than avocados and asparagus will fit in.
Give the recipe a try if you can afford it–not exactly a cheap date.