I have a gift for you. Just a quick, drive-by gift.
I'll press it in your hand with a gentle squeeze. I'll leave it on your stoop, tied with twine. I'll tuck it in that book on your bedside table.
On second thought, I'll place it here, below, because this is where we gather, at least for now.
One of my favorite recipes from Ripe is the Green Beans with Smoky Pistachio Dust. I blanch the beans until they just barely give. I slotted-spoon them into ice water, drain them, pat them dry like a freshly-bathed child, and drizzle them with oil. Then I sprinkle them with pistachios I've pulverized with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. This is the best, easiest condiment I created for the book, and one with so many uses I could spend eons dreaming up new ways to enjoy it.
So, make the dust. Keep it in a jar on your counter. And shake it on everything. Salads, eggs, potatoes, noodles, any kind of casserole, any grilled or marinated vegetable you can imagine (except lima beans), mushed up avocado, any kind of grain dish, fish fillets, pilafs, are you bored yet?
It's jewelry, for food. Make it. Use it. Love it.
One day, I shall retire to the countryside with my jars of pistachio dust and have little pistachio dust babies and take up needlepoint and smoke my own paprika.
In Seattle? I'll be there this weekend. Say hello.
Recipe for Beet and Frisee Salad with Ripe Smoky Pistachio Dust
The smoky pistachio dust is adapted from Ripe: A Fresh Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables by Cheryl Sternman Rule with photography by Paulette Phlipot (Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group, 2012)
[Yes, that's me. I have to do that, though.]
For the smoky pistachio dust:
3/4 cup unsalted pistachios, toasted and cooled completely
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon (kosher) salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Grind all ingredients in a full-size food processor fitted with the metal blade for about 30 seconds, until dusty. Store in a tightly sealed jar on the counter, where you'll see it and use it often.
For the salad pictured above, I combined:
12 small chioggia beets, scrubbed clean
White wine vinegar
Cucumber, unpeeled, diced
Roast the beets: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the leafy tops from the beets, leaving 1/2-inch stem. (Saute the leaves like other greens if they're very fresh.) Rub the bulbs gently with a bit of olive oil. Place in a Pyrex baking dish, with some wiggle room between each one. Cover tightly with foil. (Alternately, roast the oil-slicked beets in a foil packet on a baking sheet.) Roast for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out with very little resistance. Cool completely. Wear an apron. Peel with a paring knife. Dice.
Toss the diced, cooled beets in a jar with a splash of white wine vinegar, 2 generous pinches of sugar, and a solid pinch of salt. (Beets be stored, tightly covered, in the fridge for a good week, or longer, depending. Or use right away.)
Make the salad: Combine the frisee, avocado, cucumber, and some beets in a large salad bowl. Make a vinaigrette by whisking a few tablespoons of olive oil with about half as much of the beety vinegar from your jar (2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar). Season to taste.