Memories and Flavor

Friday, May 3, 2013

   We've all heard of the idea that every person has what is called an aura. The theory goes that our aura is sort of like our personality thumbprint; instead of being left behind on things we touch, it hangs around us like our own personal light source.

   I'm not a particularly mystical person- perhaps I have too scientific a mind for it- so I don't put a lot of stock into this sort of thing. But I do believe that people leave their own individual imprint when they come in and out of our lives. There are all different kinds of ways to interpret this imprint. Some of us associate it with a feeling or prominent memory; others may call it an aura.


   Personally, the important people in my life always bring images of different kinds of food when I think about them. Perhaps this is odd, but certainly no stranger than seeing auras.

    Snow peas make me think of Steve- probably because we ate so many of them when we first started dating. I prepared them in all different kinds of ways: fresh in salads, lightly blanched on top of grilled fish, sauteed and steamed. They were fantastic that year and we got every last tasty bite we could out of them. I will always remember these meals with great happiness and fondness; the plates hastily thrown together in his poorly outfitted bachelor's kitchen, ironically perfect and appealing.


   My sister conjures images of big, comforting bowls of minestrone soup. It was one of my go to recipes when we lived together in college and she loved it so much that the leftovers sometimes pulled her out of bed for a midnight snack! She is one of the most caring and nurturing souls I know; it feels highly appropriate that I associate a soup thick with fresh vegetables and beans with memories of her.

   Radishes always mean my dad. For whatever reason, my earliest food memory I have of my father is watching him take a bite out of a crisp, peppery radish- so impossibly bright white and red. He loved them and they never lasted long enough in our house to be anything other than a snack, snagged fresh from the fridge and eaten whole. To me they were impossibly sharp and spicy; I could never handle more than small nibbles of this potent root vegetable. Now, they are one of my favorite foods and I think of him every time I pull one of the stout bundles from the produce shelf.


   I think he would like this salad. I hope you do too.

Asparagus and Radish White Bean Salad

4 cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained and rinsed
2 1/2 cups fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch radishes, washed and thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
4 ears fresh corn
1 large bunch asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup white wine vinegar

   Bring a medium sized pot of salted water to a boil.  
   While waiting for the water to boil, place 1 1/2 cups of the fresh parsley and the olive oil in a food processor. Process until smooth. Scrape this into a large mixing bowl.
   When the water boils, boil the corn until bright and tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the water and allow to cool. Place the asparagus in the same boiling water until just crisp tender (just 1 to 2 minutes). Drain and immediately submerge in an ice bath to stop the cooking and keep the crispness and green color. Once cooled, drain.
   Cut the kernels from the cooled corn cobs with a very sharp knife. Coarsely chop the remaining parsley.
   Add the radishes, scallions, beans, corn kernels, asparagus, chopped parsley, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper to the bowl which contains the pureed parsley dressing. Drizzle the vinegar on top. Toss to coat evenly.
   Serves 8. I like this best the day I make it, but it also makes delicious lunch leftovers.
  
   




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