We've officially reached that part of the summer where I don't feel like cooking. The weather's been too nice. We've had birthday parties to go to and trips to the berry farm to make. I've been trying to get ahead by washing and prepping produce and ingredients in clusters rather than separately each day.
This means that on Thursdays, when our CSA box comes into the house, I will wash and dry lettuces, dark greens like kale and chard, roasting all the things that want to be roasted (such as beets, carrots, potatoes), wash and chop things like green beans and put together any sauces or dressings that can be made ahead of time.
In her very soothing and reassuring book, An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace, Tamar Adler has a helpful essay about cooking in this manner. In fact, I found a lot of inspiration for making practical adjustments in the kitchen thanks to her book. She describes many of her very sensible methods, such as taking washed lettuces and laying them flat between layers of paper towels in a roasted pan then covering the whole thing up with plastic wrap.
That's a bit more than I am capable in the summer months (I know! Lazy, lazy!), so I just toss my lettuces into a clean produce bag, stuff a couple paper towels in there willy nilly, and put it in the fridge bin. This lazy person's method has worked out just fine for me.
When it comes to what to deal with first, herbs are always the thing, especially the soft-stemmed types like basil and cilantro. Cilantro and parsley bunches get shoved into mason jars with a couple of inches of water at the bottom. A sandwich bag usually gets slapped on top of the leaves.
I find that basil can hardly stand to be in the fridge for more than a day before the edges start blackening. So I deal with that as soon as possible. If I have a large quantity, I will turn it into pesto or this caesar-inspired salad dressing, without the anchovies.
This dressing is the perfect thing to have in a big jar for whenever you do decide you need to eat something, anything now. Like, say, a green salad with some beets you've roasted. After you've dabbed on some dressing, fling on some walnuts that you wisely toasted earlier in the week. Lunch? Done.
If you have a piece of fish, perhaps a nice bit of sockeye, cook it in a pan with some butter and oil, spooning the fat over it while it cooks for about 6 or 7 minutes. Then flip it over and let the heat just kiss it. When you put it onto your plate, spoon some of this dressing on top, and you'll be the happiest lazy summer cook around.
Enjoy the rest of these hot, lazy days. They are fleeting!
Basil Caesar Salad Dressing
Makes 3 3/4 cups.
4 tablespoons minced garlic scapes (or substitute 1 clove garlic)
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed (about 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, preferably raw and unpasteurized
1/2 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
4 packed cups (about 6 ounces) basil, leaves only
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Black pepper, freshly ground
In a blender or food processor container, place garlic scapes, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar and basil. Pulse to combine. Scrape down sides if needed. While machine is running, slowly add olive oil. Stir in parmesan, add salt and pepper, adjusting to taste.