New Leaf

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A meal for beginnings, for a friend who’s taking some big first steps.

Ottolenghi herb salad: tarragon, dill, basil, flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, and wild baby arugula; almonds toasted in butter; lemon juice, olive oil.

The cookbook promised that this salad would be “one of the most gratifying dishes you can possibly make.  It is astonishingly fresh, and actually makes you feel as if you are doing yourself a giant favour by eating it.  Serve at the end of a substantial meal, before or instead of dessert.  Otherwise, offer it alongside a hefty non-vegetarian main course.  A small portion would suffice to clean the palate and make you feel a ton lighter.”

It was excellent, and a shot in the arm: softly fragrant and more nuanced than bracing, but nevertheless a mouthful of chlorophyll.

Rounded it out with harissa chicken and grapefruit; roasted butternut squash with toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, pomegranate arils, and what Ottolenghi calls “burnt aubergine” (an eggplant/yogurt sauce not far removed from baba ghanoush); and their cucumber salad, dressed elegantly in a poppy-seed and lemon vinaigrette.

We had iced tea and sparkling water in observance of new habits, and finished the meal full—of vim and vigor.  My insides feel as if they’ve just completed a yoga practice.  A satisfying and invigorating way to start any journey.

Update: the meager leftovers, the next day, were a nice Sunday lunch.

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