Short order: Be watchful when you clear the table, or else

Warm pea and lentil salad, tomato wheels and other musings.

food 88 (photo credit: )
food 88
(photo credit: )
Last Shabbat was a relaxed and informal at-home affair - so relaxed that after Friday night dinner I shook out my sole pair of contact lenses together with the tablecloth crumbs and lost them forever. (Note for the future: Don't even think about placing removed lenses anywhere but in their designated case.) "Neat, isn't it," responded a friend brightly when I told her about it shortly afterwards, "how the Hebrew word for 'lenses' - adashot - comes from the same root as the word for 'lentils' - adashim - because both signify little round things?" "Very neat," I replied, groaning inwardly. This friend isn't strong on empathy. And yet that little exchange served to remind me how fond I am of lentils, and how good it would be to eat some soon. And I cheered up a bit. WARM PEA AND LENTIL SALAD 175 gr. lentils, green or brown 175 gr. shelled peas, fresh or frozen 4 Tbsp. olive or sunflower oil 4 fresh chives, snipped into short lengths juice of 1 lime or lemon salt to taste freshly ground black pepper Wash the lentils in a sieve under running water. There is no need to soak them. Place them in a saucepan, cover with water, add a little salt and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook for 12 minutes or until the lentils are cooked through but still have a bite to them. Tip the peas into a small saucepan with the oil and the chives. Cook over gentle heat for 8-12 minutes, five to six if you are using frozen peas. Drain the lentils and place them in a serving dish, and tip the hot peas, together with their cooking juices, over them. Squeeze the lime or lemon juice over the dish, grind on a little pepper, and serve hot. This recipe, from Nigel Slater's Real Fast Food, makes a lovely light lunch with cheese and some fruit. I RARELY recommend products, but sometimes they are so good I can't resist it. One such is a delicate 3 percent-fat Bulgarian cheese sold by weight at the supermarket delicatessen counter only. Ask for gvina bulgarit shlosha ahuz - and don't let them tell you that the fat content for this product doesn't go any lower than 5%. This white cheese, by Piraeus, is light and tasty, neither too salty nor too bland, and it can be grated, spread or neatly sliced. We're delighted with it. Here's an easy and visually striking hors d'oeuvre for a dairy meal: TOMATO WHEELS 4 firm, ripe tomatoes pesto sauce (homemade, or Olivia's excellent bottled pesto) Bulgarian cheese, thinly sliced Slice the tomatoes crossways into "wheels." Spread a little pesto on each, and top with a slice of cheese. Arrange on a platter. WHILE I'M recommending, a friend sent me a i>New York Times article called "Unhappy meals" by journalism professor Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma. Entertainingly written - though the topic is very serious - Pollan's view of "the whole vexing question of food and health" is that today we don't so much eat food as ingest "nutrients," and it's not to our benefit or enjoyment, to say the least. This article isn't a short read. But with tips like: "If you're concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims" and "Don't eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food," plus inspired phrases like "the silence of the yams," it's a rewarding one. Find it on the Internet. I RECENTLY received an e-mail from "Sue" signaling "bad news for After Eight lovers." It seems that when this much-loved thin chocolate mint was manufactured in York, England, it was always parve, even though when manufactured elsewhere it was dairy. However, from now on all After Eights will be dairy, Sue warns. Notice from the London Beth Din Kashrut Division: "Please note that After Eights have been reformulated and will in future contain butterfat. This ingredient will be indicated in the ingredient list." PEEVE OF the week: Labels stuck by manufacturers and stores onto housewares that give every indication of being wedded to them for life. Some lovely coffee mugs I bought weeks ago still bear a sticky gray residue that won't wash off. There's an American product called Goo Gone that I've heard deals with this blight. Does anyone know about something similar sold here? A friend recommended peanut butter - but what a waste!