Fasolado (Greek White Bean & Celery Soup) • Romaine with Olives, Red Onion, and Roasted Peppers • Grainy Levain Rolls • Lamingtons
Adriana’s celery is so gosh darned delicious that I’ve been thinking of how to use it as a central ingredient. This chilly, damp weather led my thoughts toward bean soups, and then to the idea of this specific soup, one where white beans and celery share equal billing as stars. I gave my mom a bowlful, and she asked what herb I’d put in it. No herbs at all! That flavor you can’t quite recognize comes from the celery leaves. I did some quick research on celery, and holy moly, what a fascinating history. It’s been around for millennia—archaeologists found celery leaves in King Tut’s tomb—and one point in the late 1800s/early 1900s it was more expensive than caviar, because it was so popular but so difficult to grow.
It’s simple soup, one of those with a short list of ingredients, just insane amounts of each one; six bunches of celery, seven pounds of beans, fifteen huge yellow onions. The original version of this soup in Green would have used cups of olive oil. I use less when I’m cooking the soup, but the garnish uses Kalamata olive oil—raw, fresh, extra virgin olive oil is so good for you, and so very delicious. Besides olive oil, the garnish also has a squeeze of lemon juice and chopped celery leaves; I like to layer flavors like cooked celery and celery leaves in the soup, and then fresh celery leaves added at the last minute.
I put some punchy Kalamata olives in the salad, with red onions and roasted peppers. The dressing is bright and zingy with lemon and oregano. This is the time of winter that I don’t love—I hate damp, gray days, I’d much rather have full-on rain. But California citrus is the saving grace of winter, and this is a particularly good year. My mom’s Meyer lemon tree has an impressive crop this year; I put a whole one, skin and all, into the blender for the salad dressing, along with the juice of several Eureka lemons. We may not have sunshine outside, but there’s some in our salad.
The bread’s a little different today. I was at Good Earth buying beans and coconut, and was inspired by all the grains in the bulk bins. I brought some home, so we’ve got millet and barley in the rolls today.
For dessert, we’ve got an Australian treat called lamingtons. Of course I made these because Australia has been in the news. I was heartened to see how much money has been donated to help firefighters, wildlife, and victims of the fire.
Have you ever read the picture book Possum Magic? It’s about a possum who’s grandmother turns her invisible to save her from predators. To reverse the spell, grandmother and granddaughter travels around Australia eating regional foods, lamingtons among them. A lamington is made from two layers of sponge cake sandwiched with jam in the middle; I used homemade raspberry jam from last summer. The cake is cut into squares, and then the squares are dipped into chocolate and rolled in shredded coconut. What’s not to like?