Alice Waters and The Art of Simple Food

Whether you know it or not, Alice Waters has likely influenced what you eat and how you eat it. Her formula has always been basic. Combine local and seasonal ingredients to yield deliciously wholesome dishes. No more, no less, and just as it should be. In her latest book, The Art of Simple Food, Waters shares 250 recipes and 19 culinary lessons with all who are eager to go back to unadulterated food. Here are three teaser recipes and a guide to roasting chicken to get you started. -Barbara Huber
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Salads Galore

Grapefruit and Avocado Salad

4 Servings

Peel with a sharp knife down to the flesh, removing all the rind and membrane:

2 medium ruby grapefruit

Cut the sections free, slicing carefully along the partitioning membranes. Squeeze the juice from the membranes. Measure 2 tablespoons of the juice into a small bowl. Stir in:

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Salt
Fresh-ground black pepper

Whisk in:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Taste and adjust the acid and salt.
Cut in half and remove the pit from:

2 medium Hass avocados

Peel the halves and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Arrange the grapefruit sections and avocado slices alternately on a plate and spoon the vinaigrette over.

Variations

  • Garnish with watercress or chervil.
  • Double the amount of vinaigrette and dress 4 small handfuls of arugula separately with half of the vinaigrette. Arrange the avocado and grapefruit on top, and spoon the remaining vinaigrette over the fruit.
  • For the avocados, substitute 2 large or 4 small artichokes. Trim off all the leaves, remove the chokes, and cook the hearts until tender in salted boiling water. Slice and marinate in a couple spoonfuls of the vinaigrette.
  • Slice thin 1 small sweet spring onion. Marinate in a spoonful of vinaigrette. Scatter over the arranged salad before spooning on the dressing.

Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad

4 Servings

Cherry tomatoes and beans come in many sizes and colors. Mix them all together. You can include shell beans, too. The beans can be cooked and cooled in advance.

Snap off the stem ends (and pull off the tails, if dry or tough) of:

1/2 pound green beans (haricots verts, young Blue Lake, Kentucky Wonder, or a similar variety)

Cook until tender in salted boiling water. Drain and immediately spread them out on a sheet pan or plate to cool. Stem and cut in half:

1/2 pound cherry tomatoes

Stir together in a large bowl:

1 small shallot, diced fine
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper

Taste and adjust if necessary. Let sit for 15 minutes or more. Then whisk in:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Adjust the acid and salt as needed. Toss the cherry tomatoes with the vinaigrette. Taste. Add the green beans, and:

6 basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (optional)

Toss gently. Taste for seasoning and add salt and vinegar as needed.

Variations

  • Add chopped black olives to the dressing.
  • The green beans alone make a lovely salad. They are particularly good tossed with the basil and lots of chopped parsley.
  • Roasted red peppers, peeled and sliced, may be substituted for the cherry tomatoes.

Cucumbers with Cream and Mint

4 Servings

There are many varieties of cucumbers, each with its own flavor and texture. I especially like Armenian, Japanese, and lemon cucumbers.

Peel and slice:

2 cucumbers

If the seeds are large and tough, cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon before slicing. Place in a medium-size bowl and sprinkle with:

Salt

In another bowl, combine:

1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Fresh-ground black pepper

Stir well. If water has accumulated with the cucumbers, drain it off. Pour the dressing over the sliced cucumbers and combine. Coarsely chop:

3 mint sprigs, leaves only

Toss with the cucumbers. Taste and adjust the salt as needed. Serve cool.

Variations

  • Add pounded garlic to the dressing.
  • Serve alongside sliced beets dressed with oil and vinegar.
  • Grate or dice the cucumbers and serve as a sauce over baked salmon.
  • Parsley, chervil, basil, or cilantro can be substituted for the mint.
  • Substitute plain yogurt for the cream.
  • Add spices such as cumin, coriander, or mustard seeds to the dressing.

Continued on page 2:  Roasting a Chicken

 

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