This week, thoughts banged against the walls of my head. Certain moments hit me in the gut. I wanted to tell you about a dream I had: I stood in the kitchen with my mom, frying up strips of bacon in a cracked ceramic dish. They crinkled into little abalone, seashell-like cracklings. We ate them, our fingers greasy. They were salty and good. I woke up crying and craving bacon. My baby chickens (BABY. CHICKENS. !!!!!) arrived. I have spent every spare second with them, sitting with my tea, watching them cheeeerrp-cheep curiously over their world. Flats of favas and kale and peas are in the ground, the first occupants of this year’s garden. The forsythia has faded, but I discovered three clumps of peonies (a favorite) at the house, tight buds closed—for now.The car started shaking, rattling my teeth, and I had to take it to the shop. Girlfriends let me sleep over a few nights and drove me to the bus in the mornings. We smuggled booze into a late-night, 3-dollar movie. I felt lucky. I bought gifts for three different weddings in the next few months. I felt older.Ben is coming home. I’ve wanted to tell you how it feels to go grocery shopping knowing that there will soon be two of us in this big old house after a winter of one, how I bought cereal even though I never eat it, and how it felt like a happy secret to stow it away in the pantry. I wanted to write about how I smiled scrubbing the refrigerator and cleaning the drain yesterday, not realizing it until my cheeks hurt when I finished the chore. I itched to record these to-the-brimmings. For three nights I sat down to write, but came up with nothing more than a bullet-point journal entry. It didn’t bother me, though, the way I sometimes feel when words won’t come. I put down the pen or closed the laptop. I threw open the windows. I ate lentils, three nights in a row, once with a poached egg, once on toast, and once with greens. I sat on the porch, watching the night come. I felt full.
Warm lentil salad with red wine
I wrote this recipe to go with a local winery’s release of its light-bodied, pretty, fruity syrah. So, if you can, find a lighter red wine—not too much body, not too much oak, dry, but with lots of cherry-berry on the nose.
You will need
- 1 cup dried green lentils
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, pounded to a paste or crushed and minced
1/2 cup dry red wine (see head note)
1 sprig thyme (or other woody herb of your choice)
2 tablespoons plain, Greek-style yogurt, or creme fraiche
2 cups packed greens of your choice, such as spinach, arugula, or frisee
Ground black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- In a pot, cover the lentils with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cover. Cook, 15-20 minutes, until lentils are tender and water is absorbed.
In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook, over medium heat, for several minutes, until the onion is softened and translucent. Add the garlic and sprig of thyme and stir, cooking for 1-2 minutes. Add the lentils and stir to incorporate with the onions. Pour in the red wine and cook until absorbed, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and remove the sprig of thyme. Stir in yogurt or creme fraiche. Taste for salt and season if necessary.
Transfer the lentils to a platter or to plates and toss with the greens. Grind black pepper over the top, and sprinkle liberally with chopped parsley if desired. Serve warm.