A lesson in gym-rat cookery for the average dude
- Steven P. Magstadt Except for a few containers hoarded into freezers for secret snacks later, Thanksgiving is over, but Christmas is coming with an endless array of edible indiscretions. Here’s a great salad to provide a healthier temptation between the holidays. The other great thin about a salad is that it can make the dude-est dude-bruh appear to have impressive kitchen chops as long as he remembers several basic things:
1.) When you are going to cook something new, read the entire recipe. Read it twice, because chances are that you — whatever your other charms and gifts — have a genetic tendency to only half pay attention to things the first time they pass you by. I know whereof I speak: This observation is based on years of observing my three brothers, father, and grandfather doing strange things after only half listening. After reading twice, you are ready to have a proper adventure.
2.) Knives are sharp. Knives are sexy. Like all sexy things, they crave your attention anytime you are near them. Watch them while using them, or they might feel neglected and bite you. Only a good steak should be bloody; we are not preparing a good steak.
3.) Wash everything about four times better than the last time you pretended to wash your hands when you trotted to the bathroom. You know exactly what I mean. The cumulative savings of soap, water, and paper products in the average men’s room might be great for the environment, but it’s crap for food. And? Germs might be stealthy critters, but dirt on your food is gritty; gritty food is uncool food.
4.) If the produce department is a relatively new place to you, look for a shopper whose basket contains cheese that is not of uniform shape or already grated in a bag. This person will be able to guide you to the things you need to make this dish, which will serve two hungry guys, or four normal human beings. If this person is what you consider attractive, or just funny, then invite them to dinner.
A NOTE ON TOMATOES:
I am a huge fan of tomatoes, and even though we are headed into winter there are still some decent examples in grocery stores that are almost good enough to remind us what summer tasted like. Choose as many varieties of tomato as your market offers, the more colors and shapes, the better. You’ll need enough to fill a bike helmet, or about 4 pounds total.
If your market has tomatoes of the type that have streaks of different color, are purple, seem deformed, and appear in serious need of a cosmetic procedure, then take those first. Don’t be afraid to sidle up to the speckled, spotty, lumpy little freaks and politely introduce yourself. Those tomatoes are called “Heirloom,” and the inconsistencies in appearance mean they have escaped hybridization and offer a wider variety of flavor and texture than the standard red tomatoes that have plenty of color, but little flavor.
If you cannot get heirlooms, then get red and yellow cherry tomatoes, and a couple different types of larger red or yellow tomatoes. Try to get them with the stems attached. Smell a tomato with the stems attached, and then one without; you’ll notice that the tomatoes with stems smell almost spicy, and you’ll later find they will have a bit more flavor to them.
Now you are ready to shop. Don’t let this frighten you: The ability to shop in no way threatens your masculinity when it ends in a good meal or an outfit that is attractive enough to promote the continuance of the species.
Salt and Pepper, to taste, as opposed to death
Olive Oil, 3/4 cup
Fresh Garlic, 2 cloves
Lemons, 2 of them
Fresh Basil, 1 bunch
Fresh Thyme, 1 bunch
Scallions, 1 bunch
Goat cheese, 6 ounces(ish)
Tomatoes, 4 pounds(ish)
Cucumbers, 2 medium
Peaches, 2 of the best you can find
Maitaki mushrooms, 1 oversized rubber duck’s worth
Preparation instructions and more after the jump.