13 Feb

Lonely Hearts Club Meal

One-Pot Salad

The winter of my discontent is upon me once again, but I’m not going to play this time around. Instead of a long face, I’m sporting a can-do attitude, a real—not make-believe—smile, and a list of productive projects for my alone-weeks. (That’s not to say I’m not counting the days until I’ll be paired up with my partner again. FYI: 22.)

One project on my list: drop at least 3 pounds before my book launch—and all its very visible attendant activities—in early May. So when I am not dining out at one of Paso Robles’ excellent eateries (Monday night was deliciously spent at Artisan, for the Tablas Creek tasting dinner), I am and will be cooking something nice for myself. The candidate must be super-simple, packed with flavor, and good for my heart, mind, and belly (the one that’s too big for my skinny jeans right now).

You get one cocktail. Make it good.

You get one cocktail. Make it good.

Enter the One-Pot Salad. Put three small, halved potatoes on to steam. If they’re big, cut them into quarters. Mince a shallot. Slick a cast-iron skillet with olive oil; add a sliver of good butter. Cut an interesting sausage (here, Artichoke and Garlic) on a radically steep diagonal, 1/3-inch thick. Add the potatoes and the sausage slices to the hot fat and let them sizzle, undisturbed, until golden. While this alchemy proceeds, sip your chosen one-and-only cocktail. (Here, a fresh lime/blood orange classic daiquiri.)  Turn the potatoes and sausage slices as the spirit moves you, to achieve an even, golden crispness. Shove this goodness aside and add the shallots. Stir until the shallots soften slightly, then remove the pan from the heat, and set the table with something pretty. (Successful solo diners maintain decorum even when no one is looking.) Key up your next episode of [insert name of current guilty-pleasure vintage television show here]. Now that the pan is merely warm, rather than sizzling hot: core a head of perfect, lime-green frisée and rain the lacy-feathery leaves down on top of the sausage-potato goodness. Toss. Squeeze over a touch of fresh lemon juice, grind in some black pepper, and scatter with French gray sea salt (or, your current favorite esoteric salt). Toss again. Dine. Ideally, do all of the above in fluffy pajamas with matching slipper. Or, not.

When you have finished this tasty, well-balanced meal, lovingly but quickly made with your own hands, call your lover and tell him or her how very much you miss them.

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So, what do you think?