The power’s going out again, huh? There are going to be some very upset people in my house if the Fairfax theater is dark on Friday night. It’s the opening night of Frozen II, and we’ve already purchased our tickets. If PG&E does cut power, they sure as heck better get it back by Friday afternoon, or they’re going to have Poppy to answer to.
While other parts of the country are having cold snaps, snow, even an ice storm or two, here we are having our November is-it-summer-or-is-it-fall weather. It’s hard to know what to make for dinner when you need a fuzzy hat and cozy sweater when you wake up, but you’ve stripped down to a tank top by noon.
The lentil soup today should straddle both extremes. The soup itself is hearty, comforting, filling, healthy—all the things you want in an autumn soup—but the Romesco sauce on top is bright and punchy and colorful, like all the best parts of summer. I call it “double lentil” because I used both brown lentils, slightly larger and flatter, and French green lentils, the tiny speckled ones. And I caved to my parents’ belief that there should be meat in every soup, especially legume soups, and added a few pounds of Italian sausage.
I love the Romesco sauce. It’s a blended mixture of roasted peppers (summer!) and walnuts, along with olive oil, tomato paste, smoked paprika, and good hits of garlic and Sherry vinegar. In Spain, it’s served with everything from grilled meats and vegetables to roasted potatoes to eggs or as the base for a fish stew. In the spring, it’s very traditional to grill the large spring onions called calçots, then eat them with your fingers straight off the grill, dipping them in Romesco before eating.
I used Sherry vinegar again in the salad dressing, and contrasted its sharp acidity with some sweet honey and creamy mayonnaise. It’s a lovely dressing to have with baby spinach and generous amounts of fall fruits: persimmon and pomegranate.
The combination of oranges and walnuts reminds me of the holidays. It’s this time of year that I start keeping a bowl of mandarins on the counter, and a bowl of nuts (including walnuts) next to the fireplace, for the kids (or me!) to crack open while they’re sitting by the fire. Later, when it’s closer to Christmas, mandarins and fried, sugared walnuts are always part of our “treat table,” small buffet of sweet and savory snacks that gets set up for guests and family gatherings. For dessert, I used a few of Tim’s mandarins to make a lemon-orange syrup and orange-scented whipped cream to have on top of walnut cake—a pre-holiday treat for you, my friends.