To be honest, I have no idea what is traditionally served during the Memorial Day gatherings. I assume something simple and quick, since nobody wants to spend too much time cooking on the weekend marking the start of summer. I also assume that there is some appetite out there for something new and different. There is nothing wrong with a good cheeseburger or a hotdog but why limit yourself if there is a whole world out there? All of the recipes below require little or no cooking, use seasonal ingredients and can be fun to make and serve.
Fava (broad) beans, pecorino and salami
serves 4 to 6
8 to 10 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese
8 to 10 ounces corallina salami or other coarse pork salami with black pepper
1½ pounds fresh fava beans in pods
Using a knife, split the Pecorino Romano into bite-size chunks along the natural grain of the cheese (do not slice it). Slice the salami crosswise into ⅛-inch-thick rounds, removing and discarding the outer casing. Arrange the cheese and salami on a cutting board or platter. Pile the fava bean pods alongside.
Serve picnic style with slightly chilled red Italian wine.
Butter and Anchovi crostini
Makes 6 crostini
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 thin slices sourdough bread, toasted
3 salted anchovies, cleaned, filleted, and halved lengthwise and crosswise
Spread a layer of butter on one side of each slice of bread. Top each with two pieces of salted anchovy. Serve with something bubbly or a light beer, like Michigan’s Oberon.
Grilled haloumi cheese
Haloumi cheese is made in Cyprus from sheep’s and goat’s milk. It is very firm and is best enjoyed grilled. You can find it at wholefoods and many smaller good quality grocers.
Slice the cheese crosswise about half-inch thick. Brush your grill with a bit of olive oil, grill the cheese on both sides. Plate, sprinkle with olive oil and lemon juice, serve with a simple salad of seasonal greens and balsamic vinaigrette.
Asparagus omelette (Tortilla de Esparragos)
This simple Spanish dish is seasonal, easy and delicious. It can be served for breakfast, lunch or at a picnic. Using fresh eggs from a local farm takes it to an all together different level. Both asparagus and green garlic are available from farmers markets in most of the country right now
1/2 pound of local asparagus, tough ends removed
8 green onions, including tender green tops, chopped
1/2 cup of coarsely chopped green garlic shoots. Substitute for 2-3 garlic cloves and 12 garlic chives if you must but it is not quite the same
7 large eggs
salt and pepper
- Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, ad asparagus and boil for 3 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again. Cut into 1-inch pieces
- In a frying pan warm 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the green onions and the green garlic and saute until tender. Add asparagus and saute for about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs until blended. Add the asparagus mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a frying pan (non-stick or well seasoned cast iron), warm 3 more table spoons of olive oil over high heat until very hot but not smoking. Pour the egg mixture and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the underside is golden – about 6 minutes. Run your spatula around the edges of the pan a few times to loosen the eggs. Invert a large plate on top of the pan, flip the pan over, so that the omelette rests on the plate, cooked side up, and slide the omelette back to the pan, still cooked side up. Reduce the heat to low and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Slide the omelette on a serving plate, allow to slightly cool, cut into wedges.
Serve warm or at room temperature with a side salad, on bread or by itself with chilled white wine or beer.
Happy Memorial Day and enjoy!