It was my turn to cook for the family. I was hoping to be bailed out by a trip to Taco Bell or to perhaps order a pizza, but that wasn't going to happen. My sons had heard that I was learning to cook and they expected something made by their old man.
I like cooking for people. It makes them happy and you get to use your hands. There's also something workman-like about cooking. You get to use tools (sharp knives, juicers, pots, pans, etc) and there's heat and flame. I like the quick pace and total concentration. It's the kind of labor that produces an immediate, tangible result.
I decided upon grilled salmon with a rub recipe I found somewhere and an arugula, fennel and segmented orange salad. Segmenting the oranges was a pain in the ass, but well worth the effort. I loved how the lack of membranes in the oranges allowed the juice to mingle with the vinaigrette I made.
The challenge of the meal was the Salsa Verde that would be used as a dipping sauce for the salmon. Before finding the recipe in a decade-old issue of Gourmet magazine, I had never heard of salsa verde. I thought it was a Mexican creation, but I guess it comes from Italy. There's also anchovies involved and a ton of chopping, so hey, why not?
The family enjoyed the meal and I'm proud of my sons for eating something that was so different from what they normally enjoy when they are back home in Oklahoma.
Salsa Verde (Italian parsley sauce)
Makes 4-6 servings (1 cup)
1 slice of white bread, crust discarded and bread torn into pieces
1 ½ tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 ½ cups chopped fresh parsley leaves (see notes)
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 garlic cove, chopped
3 flat anchovies
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. In a small bowl soften bread in vinegar, stirring to help bread absorb vinegar.
2. Fine chop 1 ½ cups of parsley.
3. In a food processor, blend together bread mixture with remaining ingredients except oil.
4. With processor running, add oil in a stream and blend sauce well. Season with salt and serve as a dipping sauce for steamed vegetables or grilled or poached chicken and fish.
When you chop the parsley, you really want to give it a fine chop. The reason being is that when you put the parsley into the food processor, it really won't chop it. Instead, the food processor will tear the parsley and won't give you the fine chop you need. It's a lot of work to fine chop 1 1/2 cups of parsley, but it's worth the effort.