sometimes it was a long drive through the night, other times it was a 3am wakeup to make the drive up the east coast, to the vineyard. we would always take two cars, me and my mom in one, and my dad and brother in the other; the car was stocked up with sandwiches, tons of fruit and cassette tapes for listening purposes (oddly enough, during those trips i found an unwavering affinity for my mom's music, which included: joan baez, james taylor and annie lenox. while my dad acquired a liking for my brother's: nwa and epmd). once we got to woods hole, massachsetts, it was a long pause as we waited for our ferry arrive to ship us over the expanse of water between cape cod and martha's vineyard. depending on my age and mood, the ferry always felt somewhere between a hassle and an adventure - 45 minutes to the only place i wanted to be, and that i had yearned and dreamt for the past 300, some-odd days.
we rented the same house for the past couple of decades and it felt like our second home; we knew its smell, it's creaks, the sound of the loud, clunky washing machine, dialing the rotary phone, and the itchy couch my mom would cover with bed sheets. for the first 10 years or so the first thing my dad and i would do was head down the street to the beach cove. the shore would be littered with heavy doses of rocks and pebbles which we would sort through to find smooth flat ones to skip across the surface of the clear, rippled ocean. most days on the vineyard were spent at the beach, other times canoe rides, flea markets, fishing and squid jigging; there were trips to local farm and flower stands with an honor-system way of payment, and farmers markets before they were an everyday, ubiquitous thing. the vineyard was not so much a vacation, but a way i always wanted to live - small, quiet, connected. i think i hold on to these memories of this most special place because it not only reminds of some of the best moments and memories in my young life, but a sense of minimalism, of simple pleasures and creating memories and traditions without the complexity of every day interferences.
this dish, or salad of sorts, is totally based on a meal i think we would have made for lunch, or as an easy, pack-up, sunset dinner on the beach. garlic scape season is one of my faves, mostly because it reminds me of the vineyard. my mom and i would frequently visit our local farm-stand, beetlebung farm to pick up dinner ingredients. one afternoon we picked up garlic scapes; not knowing what to do with them, we sautéed them up with asparagus, and threw it all over some fresh pasta. today, i roasted it all, because i can't seem to eat asparagus and garlic scapes any other way this season (plus, it's a really quick cleanup for the lazy bones in me). i cooked the rice with cilantro stems for some added, herby flavor and tossed it all up with a considerable amount of minced cilantro and basil, and then topped it off with some pre-roasted (and salted) paprika-spiced almonds. all simple thangs, peeps, as i imagine cooking this up in a rental or vacation space without your normal, day-to-day kitchen arsenal. happy summering :)
cilantro black rice w/ roasted garlic scapes + asparagus
| serves 4 as a side |
this is more a "kitchen sink" recipe, i usually throw ingredients together that i have lying around the fridge so the amounts here are somewhat rounded up or down. the minced cilantro and basil are approximate amounts, but i usually like the ratio of 1/2 cup fresh herbs to 1 cup rice - so i would aim for measuring it that way. this dish is subtle enough that other flavors could definitely be added, be it different herbs or more pungent spices.
- 1 cup black rice, rinsed
- 1 bunch cilantro, minced (reserve the stems)
- 1 small bunch basil, minced
- 4-5 garlic scapes, sliced thin (about 1/8 inch)
- 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed and sliced in 1 inch pieces
- juice + zest from 1/2 a lemon
- 2 tablespoons roasted + salted almonds
- 1/2 teaspoon mild paprika
- extra virgin olive oil for roasting and topping off
- large grain sea salt + fresh ground pepper
- in a medium saucepan, combine rice, cilantro stems (you can use one stem to tie a bundle of them), a big pinch of large grain salt and 2 cups of water. bring to a boil, stir and cover for 30-35 minutes, until all water is absorbed. remove from heat and let it sit covered for 10 minutes. when ready to serve, discard cilantro stems and fluff with a fork
- while the rice is cooking preheat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment. in a large bowl, combine scapes, asparagus, and lemon zest; season with sea salt and pepper, and coat evenly with olive oil (roughly 2 teaspoons). turn out onto prepared baking sheet and arrange the veggies in an even layer - roast for 12-15 minutes, until cooked through, but with some bite left
- in a small sandwich bag, combine the almonds and paprika; using a rolling pin, crush the nuts until roughly broken, set aside
- in large serving bowl, combine the rice, scape and asparagus mix, half the spiced almonds and about 3/4 of the minced herbs, drizzle with some good olive oil and add lemon juice; taste and check for seasoning, adding salt + pepper accordingly. garnish with remaining almonds and herbs. serve and enjoy!