Friday, February 2, 2007

Friday Night Light

Yes, it is Friday night.

Yes, I am 25, single, and living in Los Angeles.

Yes, I am at home posting about what I made for dinner.

Honestly, I do have an has to do with lack of sleep, a overwhelming workload, and a desire to stand and stir something over the stove.

This week has been nuts --Monday night I was in the office until 2 am, Tuesday night I was there until after 8pm, Wednesday night I met a friend for dinner and didn't get home until after 10pm, and Thursday night I had a cocktail party to attend and didn't get home until after 9pm. Plus, I got up on Monday, Wednesday, and today at 5am to go to the gym before work. Essentially, this week has been low on sleep, high on stress, and full of intense assignments. Plus, because of all this, I haven't cooked until last Sunday. For shame! What kind of food blogger am I?!

And, to add insult to injury, tomorrow I have to attend training at work from 9 - 5 (on Saturday!). After that, dinner with a group of friends. Sunday is the Superbowl and I'm going to another friend's house for the game. The craziness shows no signs of stopping...Tonight was literally the only night of this entire week for me to sit, relax, and cook something yummy.

It may seem a foreign concept to some, but the kitchen is my place to find peace. Brainstorming a recipe and chopping up ingredients are wonderful stress relievers for me. All I wanted to do tonight was get back into my kitchen, grab a knife, forget about work, and get started on something delicious for dinner. Seriously, the stove is my happy place -- If I were in Neverland, I think cooking would the thought that would help me fly. :)

Tonight I just wanted something tasty, simple, and light. After a week of late-night meals, heavy on carbs and oil, I was craving something that made me feel healthy.

First, I settled on turkey burgers...ground turkey, mixed with chopped fresh sage and rosemary, garlic, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper and shaped into patties and grilled until just done.

Mmmm...fresh off the grill.

Then, a small side of sweet potato gnocchi, tossed with walnut oil, a tiny bit of nutmeg, and salt.

But the vegetable of the night was eluding me. Finally, I decided on a wilted, winter salad. I wanted something that would highlight the flavors of the season, yet still be light and delicious. I knew I had some beautiful blood oranges in my fruit basket left over from my last trip to the farmer's market -- I love the gorgeous deep color and rich acid of blood oranges. Plus, I remembered that I had some fresh spring garlic shoots and a new bottle of walnut oil. I also knew that I didn't want just a plain tossed salad -- something a little warmer and complex was clearly in order. The salad below was the lucky result of these ideas.

This side dish ended up being the best part of the meal -- and that reallly is saying something. The turkey burgers were tangy and savory, the gnocchi were gently spiced and pleasantly earthy, but the salad tied together the herbs in the burgers with the background nutty taste of the gnocchi in a crunchy, balanced perfect end to this crazy week -- I hope you like it.

Wilted Mixed Greens, with Walnuts, Spring Garlic, and Blood Oranges -- Serves 3 or 4


--1 teaspoon olive oil
--1 teaspoon walnut oil
--1/2 cup diced spring garlic shoots, white and green parts (substitute green onions, if necessary, but try and find the spring garlic shoots - they are deliciously delicate and fragrant)
--1/2 sweet onion, diced
--1 clove garlic, finely chopped
--2 teaspoons orange muscat vinegar (I usually find it at Trader Joe's)
--1 teaspoon blood orange juice (squeeze from a few slices of blood orange, then toss the pulp in also)
--tiny splash of apple cider vinegar
--1/3 cup water
--1 teaspoon fresh sage leaves, finely diced
--1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely diced
--salt and pepper to taste

-- 1/2 lb mixed greens (as many different leaves as possible. My mix was self-created at our farmer's market and included arugula, spinach, pea shoots, spring mix, radicchio, and many other salad greens)
-- 3 small blood oranges, separated into segments, and then diced (if you are feeling fancy, peel the membrane from the flesh. I was feeling lazy, and neglected to do so)
--1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts


1) Simmer the olive and walnut oils with the spring garlic shoots, the onions, the garlic, the vinegars, the blood orange juice, and the water for about 5 minutes.

2) Add the sage, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste, adjust seasonings, and then take off the heat.

3) Toss the mixed greens with the blood orange segments, walnuts, and warm vinaigrette.

To serve:

Eat immediately. If you let the greens sit with the warm vinaigrette for too long you'll end up with salad soup. And, honestly, nobody likes salad soup.


Hazelnuts and hazelnut oil would be wonderful substitutions for the walnut(s). Also, I think a bit of honey might be a tasty addition to the dressing. Finally, I have a notion that some sort of cheese might be good in here, but since I'm allergic, I really can't opine on the topic. If you give it a try, let me know what changes you made and how it turned out.

Sauteing vinaigrette -- I know it looks rather like unappetising slop, but I promise, it is fabulous.

Dinner as served -- turkey burger, sweet potato gnocchi, and wilted salad. Friday. Night. Light. (and delicious).

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