Slice 'n' Dice

Slice ‘n’ Dice Dinner—The perfect eats-for-one caper.

snow_on_SAAB.JPGIt was nearly seven o’clock and I was watching the tail end of the news when Carol called to report that there was a hailstorm going on at San Francisco State and she’s not driving home until it’s over. A hailstorm! In San Francisco! With thunder and lightning! Oh, and she had dinner at her meeting.

I was planning to cook the leftover corned beef and vegetables into hash, but there’s too much for one. Besides, I’m not totally hungry, but I’ve got to eat something. I’ll see what’s in the crisper drawer, one carrot, two radishes, some green garlic, three cauliflower florets and some Little Gems. Looks like a chopped salad to me. This is an eats-for-one moment. I start washing and peeling and chopping and mentally assessing what might be in the meat drawer, a piece of ham. Great.

Where did these bits and pieces come from? The lone carrot was not used for the boiled dinner on Sunday. Last Saturday I blanched half a head of cauliflower and tossed with a vinaigrette for a snack, the rest got into salads or snacked through the week, leaving the three florets; just right. Lord knows how long the two radishes have been in there, but they’re nice and hard and crisp.

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I get the Little Gems from the Star Route Farm stand at the Farmers Market. They are indeed gems. I think they’re a cross between Romaine and Boston lettuce, about the size and shape of a pinecone with a tight head. You can pick off the outer leaves and lay them down as a bed for any kind of chopped or sliced salad, or you can slice them across as an ingredient of a chopped salad, that’s what I did. David Kinch, the chef at Manresa in Los Gatos CA, stands them on end in a saucepan and braises them with butter over very low heat for an hour. The recipe was in the New York Times and I did a home version for two. Yummy. But I digress.
vegetables_n_ham.JPGVegetables chopped, I dress them with Ken’s Steak House Ranch Dressing. Ranch Dressing right out of the bottle? I wouldn’t use it for a green salad, but for a quick chopped salad, I like it, not much, just enough to moisten.

That can rest while I heat my skillet-for-one very hot, put in a tiny amount of butter and oil and sear a half-inch slice of ham. I picked up the Half Petit Ham at the Niman Ranch stand at the Farmers Market for occasions just such as this, or to whack off a slice and throw in a skillet for a quick breakfast lunch or dinner. The meat is much less expensive at the Market stand than by mail-order; and although they have a limited selection, you can order ahead for a special cut. Once seared and hot, I slice the ham into a half-inch dice and dump it hot on top of the salad.

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Toss, and that’s dinner.

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