Bon Appétit (July 2013)
This is a tale of three parties.
Just a little less than 12 hours ago, we arrived home from Las Vegas, where we spent the last four days with a group of 15 friends for a bachelor party. What we ate: burgers, fries, pizza, pasta, barbecue, more pizza, tequila shots, a bit of sushi, waffles -- and that's just a starter list. There were pools, mechanical bulls, and a trip to a shooting range for some. It was a fun, hilarious weekend. But boy, do we need a salad....
The latest Bon Appétit, meanwhile, features a very different party, in Hawaii, thrown by chef Ed Kenney and singer Jack Johnson (who barely exists for us outside of Andy Samberg's impression of him Saturday Night Live). The Kenney-Johnson party is polar opposite from our Vegas bash: organic vegetables, no meat (though there is some tuna) and some famous faces, including surfer Kelly Slater. (The piece does include one quote that we find a bit irritating, though we're not sure why: "The guests' credo: Local first, organic whenever possible, with aloha always." Perhaps in our post-Vegas state, we're just not in the spirit of aloha.) All in all, though, it's a beautiful dinner party set at a long, outdoor table. The food looks virtuous and amazingly fresh. (Needless to say, we're going to try this week to be a bit more Hawaii and a lot less Vegas.)
And what about party No. 3?
Just prior to Vegas, Zach's parents were visiting DC with their friends Janet and Grant. We had them all to our house for dinner on Saturday night, and planned to keep things easy, since we'd be spending the day sightseeing with them. Preparing for that meal, we went digging through our magazine stack for a few simple dishes to execute. In Bon Appétit, we plucked out this recipe for Avocado and Tangerine Salad with Jalapeño Vinaigrette, from the Ed Kenney party in Hawaii.
This is a recipe that gives you choices. For citrus, it's tangerines or clementines. We found neither on our shopping excursion for this dinner, and went with naval oranges instead. For greens, it's purslane, arugula or watercress. We went with arugula that we picked up on a morning shopping trip to Union Market.
And there's also a choice on spiciness. We were a bit nervous about serving a jalapeño vinaigrette to guests. Can everyone tolerate spicy? What if the pepper is especially hot? The recipe gives you an option to use only half of a charred jalapeño, and after tasting our pepper, which was blazing hot, we took Bon App up on the offer.
The jalapeño goes into a simple vinaigrette of reduced citrus juice, shallot, and vinegar. That's then poured over the salad, which includes avocado, oranges, greens, mint and feta.
Guests gathered at the table. Candles were lit. Wine was poured. We plated the salad. Unlike in Hawaii, there were no flowery shirts, ukeleles or famous surfers. But no one seemed to mind. It's always nice to be eating at home with people you love, digging in to a truly fantastic salad. The avocado is a rich, creamy contrast to the bright, clean citrus, and the jalapeño vinaigrette has a really nice smoky heat. Tossed with the greens, mint and feta, it's a wonderful combination,
We heartily recommend you serving it at your next summer gathering. Heck, invite some friends over just so you can serve this salad. It is summer and sunshine and virtuous enough for us (and, we suspect, for you as well).
If you need us, we'll be the ones over here, eating plain salads and attempting to channel aloha, whatever that is.
Notes from Zach and Clay of The Bitten Word:
We subbed naval oranges for tangerines, as tangerines and clementines weren't available at our supermarket. For greens, we chose arugula.
Ingredients1/2 cup fresh tangerine juice
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 avocados, sliced
4 tangerines or clementines, peeled, sliced into rounds
6 cups purslane, arugula, or watercress, thick stems trimmed
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
2 ounces feta, crumbled (about 1/3 cup)
PreparationSimmer tangerine juice in a small saucepan until syrupy and reduced to about 2 Tbsp., 5–8 minutes. Let cool.
Heat a small heavy skillet over medium- high heat. Cook jalapeño, turning occasionally, until blistered and charred all over, about 8 minutes. (Alternatively, roast jalapeño directly over gas flame, turning occasionally.) Let cool; remove stem, skin, and seeds, then finely chop.
Whisk shallot, vinegar, reduced tangerine juice, and half of jalapeño in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Whisk in vegetable oil, then olive oil. Add remaining jalapeño, if desired. Set vinaigrette aside.
Toss avocados, tangerines, purslane, mint, and vinaigrette in a large bowl; top with feta.
DO AHEAD: Vinaigrette can be made 1 day ahead; cover and chill.