Wagon wheel

lentil saladBoxes: we are down to the last few. But those last few are the ones that, when opened, force you to think what, where, why, how, howhow on earth! or (better) how about over there? This evening I’m leaving them be: three weeks in and I’ve called a timeout on unpacking. Those last few things will find their place. This is supposed to be our ‘forever’ house – a few more days can’t hurt. 

+

lucas

Friends had us over for dinner at the end of moving week: grilled sausages, a salad bright with berries, asparagus. We ate outside, the kids splashed in a wading pool and licked ice cream on cones. When it was time to go, we couldn’t find Lucas; after a couple minutes he was located, arranged in one of the beds in a darkened bedroom. “I go ni-night. This my new house?” His voice was sleepy, but determined. He was getting this moving thing down.

lentils

We stopped by the old house on our way home to put out the trash cans, brim-full with packing detritus. Lucas strained against his carseat straps, toward the window. “Go ni-night my old house?”

scallion

When we got home a few minutes later, he was almost asleep. Opening his eyes, he let out a huge belly laugh. “I so glad see my new house!” I carried him inside, and he whooped at the front door. “I so glad see you, my new house!”

radish

+

School ended. Camp started. One afternoon, I spent hours making bread while the boys destroyed the lawn. The boxes, the lists, the plans, the phone calls and the emails and the rest of it were all shoved aside and ignored, and I focused on trying to revive my starter. With an infusion of active yeast the bread came out ok – the starter didn’t live to tell the story. One of these days, I will do the simple task of starting anew. But there are so many other simple new starts demanding my attention. It waits.

bread

That night, sifting through a notebook, a few old photos fell out. I sat with them, passing time, still. I made a pile for my brother, and propped one up on my dresser. One of these days, I will do the simple task of starting anew. But no, that’s not quite right; we hold within us, always, what was there before.

mom

+

The old house was emptying of furniture, filling with the careening chaotic energy of two boys not entirely sure what was happening. They put on capes, they ran and jumped.

J cape

“We are super movers! We live in a cave, but we’re moving to a tree house!” Jacob yelled this as he flew past, metallic gold streaming behind him.

L cape

“Super mover!” Lucas agreed, rocketing by with his lightning bolt.

I stood still and watched them, going so fast.

+

banana bread

We made banana bread in the new kitchen, the first real baking project since we have been here. Lucas stirred bananas with yogurt while Jacob negotiated on behalf of the chocolate chip lobby. “One WHOLE cup!”

I didn’t have it in me to resist.

+

taco tuesday

I try to keep some things consistent: taco Tuesday, family pizza nights, cousins on the couch after dinner.

couchy cousins

I read an OpEd that gets me fixated on green onions and herby salads. I get half of my books put away in right-seeming places. I actually consult a recipe, for the first time in two weeks.

contraptions

We build KEVA Contraptions, we make lemon slushies, we rejoice in bare legs and long summer evenings and the strange birds that live in our new yard.

lemon slushy

Then the boys are felled by a virus and it all goes, excuse me, to shit.

the patient

+

bubbles

My stepmom comes, and with her my sanity. She takes the boys to the park, and I feel almost literally that I am unwinding. After she goes, we spend an afternoon in the yard blowing bubbles.

purslane

Later, we discover that we have wild-growing purslane spreading along the border of the yard. We have left behind our tomatoes and squash, our radishes and beets, our peas and melons and artichokes. Hopefully the sweet young family that moved in last Friday will water them, help them keep growing, harvest them when the time comes.

We’ve moved away from our magical apple tree, our plum tree, our oranges and our pears. But lemons are here, and we have a long sunny flower bed just begging to be planted with herbs and fruit trees and greens and veggies. We will build a new garden, one small task at a time.

We carry our treasure into our new kitchen and make a salad of purslane leaves.

lemon

So – I’m taking this night off from list-making and dreams. I’m ignoring the to-dos, getting back into my kitchen groove, hoping soon it will be my usual rut. In the meantime – we have lemons. And purslane. And bubbles.

And also, the most amazing lentil salad.

+

THE lentil salad

Sometimes, I roll along in my rut like I’m a dinner-making wagon wheel (or, even better, wagon wheel.) My sis-in-law Kate made this salad three weeks ago, on the occasion of our first potluck dinner at the new house.  Since then, I have made it thrice more, and you know what? I’m making it again tomorrow. Because I want to get my groove back; I can’t wait for it to become a rut. (And oh what the heck Darius – bring it full circle!)

Part of the reason this salad has become a groove is that lentils require very little of me, olive oil is always in my kitchen, and coming up with green onions, feta, and carrots is straightforward. That being practically the entire recipe, right there. Oh, you might add a few radishes for crunch, or a handful of whatever delicious herbs you have laying around the kitchen. A squeeze of lemon is a good idea, and I’ve been plating it over oil-and-vinegared greens tossed with dried cherries, as discussed below. (If you happen to have purslane, then by all means …) But at its heart, this is a couldn’t-be-simpler five ingredient wonder. As Kate said, “I’m always surprised by how well the recipe holds up, because when you think about it it almost seems like it can’t be that good – but it is.” Truth, sister.

lentil salad time

One word about lentils: you will want those lovely buttery Lentilles du Puy if you can get them –  otherwise, go ahead and use regular (inferior?) green French lentils. (You might want to slightly undercook them, to help them hold their shape.) Cooked, they do well for several days in the fridge – and this is a great (I mean, really great) toss-together lunch, when you have cooked lentils handy.

2 cups cooked lentils (~ 1 cup dry lentils, cooked)
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
3-4 radishes, sliced

Juice and zest from one lemon (optional)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil (I’ve been using a lemon-infused one)
Salt

1/2 – 1 cup crumbled feta

Salad greens (spinach, arugula, your favorite – certainly if your radishes have greens, they would be just fine here)
Balsamic vinegar
Dried cherries

In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil with the lemon zest and juice (if using) and a pinch of kosher salt. (Feta is salty, so you don’t need too much salt here.) Add the lentils and stir gently. Add the scallions, carrots, and radishes, and stir gently to coat. (You can let this sit in the fridge for up to a day at this point.)

When ready to serve:  gently stir in the crumbled feta. This is excellent as is, as a side dish or quick vegetarian dinner. My favorite way to have it to date though is to serve a big scoop over top of greens that have been tossed with a sweet balsamic, a little more olive oil, and a few dried cherries. This makes it a stand-alone dinner for me and Kyle; we have also had it like this as a side to pizza on family pizza night, with nieces and in-laws at the table to share.

There is obviously some flexibility here, but the main – buttery lentils, crispy veg, salty feta – is not to be missed. It’s a rut I’m rejoicing in these days.

15 thoughts on “Wagon wheel

  1. Curious about purslane. Looks very much like this thing that routinely shows up in my flower garden that I pull out and throw away as a weed. We can eat this?

    • Yes! I’m not any kind of expert on identifying edible plants, but purslane is pretty easy: succulent leaves, red stems, tiny yellow flowers. Shouldn’t be hairy/fuzzy. Grows low along the ground, often at the edges of grassy areas/places where weeds grow. Incredibly nutritious, addictive crunch! Effortless gardening ;)

  2. What a wonderful post. I always enjoy reading you! I hope that by the time you read this, you have had the chance to put your feet up and take some time for yourself. It looks like you are almost near the end, and it’s so true: for a forever house, a few more days can’t hurt.

    I do have to say that I am so impressed that you have managed to make such gorgeous meals and such amazing bread with everything that is going on. Brava, Hannah!

    • Oh Daisy, it’s not much to be impressed by – we always have to eat! (And in the grand scheme of things, our life moves at a pretty fine pace, moving and all.) I have had a most relaxing weekend, and now have on my menu plan for the week your mint-infused chimichurri.

      • It’s true that you do have to eat, but if it were my parents, it would be take-out pizza until all the boxes were gone! I remain impressed!

        Glad to hear that the weekend was relaxing. You have definitely earned it. And do let me know how the chimichurri variation goes!

  3. Purslane! No kidding! I see that creeping around my garden all the time. Nice to know.

    Summer has hit with a wallop here in Maine. Scary thunderstorms yesterday that started two house fires in neighboring towns, following a day of high eighties and oppressive humidity. Today we’re looking at a high of ninety three with more severe storms predicted. But on the upside, I’ve got lots of strawberries from our patch out back and a cute little herb garden thriving on the deck. You lentil salad with some fresh herbs might be just thing for dinner tonight. That and a strawberry tart, I think.

    Happy Summer!

    • So, something weird: today was humid HERE, on the San Francisco peninsula. Not oppressively so, but still. I feel a smidge of your pain. (When we lived back east, I never had a problem with the cold snowy weather: it was the summertime that I struggled with!) But it sounds like quite a lot of upside – and perhaps you can make a purslane and berry salad with a bright herby vinaigrette? Or, lentils and strawberry tart. Definitely don’t skip the tart, either way.

  4. As always, Hannah, I’m enchanted by your world, and wish you lived just down the lane (… and not just because of all those chocolate chips.)

  5. Hi, I’m new to your blog via your heartbreaking and poignant recipe post on Dinner A Love Story. Reading that post made me totally well up as my mom died 6 years ago before my kids were born. The last line about how your mom saved all your homemade cards about did me in (my mom did too).

    Anyway… I’m really enjoying your writing and recipes. This lentil salad looks like a keeper. Glad to have found you!
    -Dana

    • Hello Dana, thanks for stopping by, and welcome. I think that this lentil salad is gluten free (I’m no expert but pretty sure) so if you do try it, it might work for your Bunky (who appears to be about the same age as my J?). As for your mom – it is a deep and abiding loss. It’s funny the things that will sometimes make my throat catch. I’m glad for you, that she saved those cards. It’s a physical connection, and one to cherish. Thanks for reading ~

Post a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s