I rarely have occasion to use my formidable meat cleaver, but the other day she got put to work when I brought home a nice, juicy watermelon. Perhaps it was a little overkill, but, I tell you what- I got a cleaner cut on that melon than I ever have. Anyway, the point of me telling you this is that when that little buddy split open it emitted a sweet aroma that instantly transported me to the dozens of outdoor, warm weather celebrations of years past. The point of me telling you that is to contrast it with the actual weather we've been having around here as of late, which has been rather dreary. Aaaand the point of me telling you that is so that I can offer you a little edible empathy in case you're also experiencing your fair share of April showers.
Enter, the Rainy April Menu.
Main Course: Spicy Lentil & Sausage Soup
Sides: Alex's Salad and Roasted Garlic & Rosemary Bread
Dessert: Simple Toffee Cookie Ice Cream Sundaes
"Rainy Day" (found on Eats and Beats' Music Playlist page.)
Notes about this menu:
The workload, and special tools: This is the kind of menu that makes you feel like a gourmet even if you're not. There's nothing about it that requires a great deal of skill, but it does require some TLC and it goes beyond just chopping and stirring. For instance, you're going to grind your own fennel seeds and roast a bulb of garlic. You'll also be removing sausage from their casings. It's all EASY and I'll talk you through each step. Since it's a very handsy menu, so I think you'll end up feeling extra satisfied and empowered when you and your guests (or family) dig in! You'll want to make sure you have all the prep work done in advance. In case the idea of a lot of prep work stresses you out, take courage knowing that most of the bread work needs to be done the day before, the cookies, soup, and some of the salad work can all be done the day before. There's very little that needs to be done the day you serve this meal! The bread gets baked in a dutch oven, so make plans to borrow one from a friend if you don't already have one. A mortar and pestle would come in hand, but you can always just use the end of a rolling pin and a hard surface.
The flavors: This is the essence of modern comfort food. Warm and unpretentious with mostly familiar flavors and lots of fresh ingredients. In the main course you can look forward to a little heat, a subtle fennel taste, and the savoriness of pancetta and sausage that everyone loves. Alex's Salad has a fantastic combination of textures and flavors. Chewy, fruity, crunchy, salty, creamy... I have made it dozens and dozens of times and have never, ever, ever tired of it. Rosemary and garlic bread is always a crowd pleaser, and the toffee and caramel in the dessert provide those wonderful soothing flavors that you want on a rainy day. I don't know what else to say, except that it's reeeeally good.
Coming up: the recipe for the Spicy Lentil and Sausage Soup.