Crazy Salad

…it the name of a book that I just picked up by the one and only, Nora Ephron. The full title is actually Crazy Salad and Scribble Scribble: Some Things About Women and Notes on Media. It is a collection of her essays, some of which from quite long ago, but I’m only two essays into it and love it.

UnknownThe title Crazy Salad snagged me right off the bat, as “crazy + most words” is typically a good combination (working especially well with curses. She was CRAZY Bullsh*t!. Really paints a picture, eh?). Nora writes and I listen. I have loved her since her early fiction (Heartburn) to recent works like I Feel Bad About My Neck, which I read one vacation sitting in a wicker chair on a lovely, sweeping porch (while young waiters continually supplied me with gin and tonics) overlooking the Atlantic. I was cackling so often and so loudly that my husband kept glancing over and asking “What ARE you reading?”.

Nora does it for me. If I had to choose a celebrity to have dinner with, she’d be my gal. Her writing never fails to amuse me or inspire me in that real-woman-kind-of-way. I know it’s a lighter kind of writing and not high literature by any means, but there is just something very accessible, quirky and lovable that comes through. Not to mention a good sense of humor and a comical way of describing events or thoughts. She’s for me. Yes sir-ee.

As you can imagine, I danced a quiet, little jig when I found this book of hers. I hadn’t seen it before and coincidentally, I was in a new bookstore that I had also recently discovered in a nearby town. New book AND bookstore. Heaven. This bookstore is a total little gem, too. It’s completely adorable and old-time, with cramped aisles and a friendly staff. When I was in there the other day, I heard  a customer saying what I was thinking as he checked out with his purchase…”Thank you for being here and doing what you do!”. Good words in a bookstore. Mind you, I’m not biased. I’ll take any size bookstore. BUT, there is something particularly charming about small ones. Ones with chairs in corners for you to curl up in, while you are glancing through a book. One with a bell on the door. One that has that smell. It’s the bookstore smell and its fabulous.

I’m actually headed back there today, to find a birthday book for my father-in-law, and I’m excited. What a geek, I know. I will happily go two towns over to give business to any small bookstore, in this day-in-age of Amazon, Kindls, Nooks and Barnes and Noble. The little guys need a life raft and I’m happy to help them build it.  Same goes for small toy stores, but that’s another post.

Crazy Salad. And yes, I told you a salad recipe was coming today in preparation for this weekend’s big holiday. It’s not a crazy salad and it’s not a BIG salad ( eh, hem…Elaine on Seinfeld) but it is a GOOD salad. Nothing zany but springy and delish. Go get your crazy on.

Arugula Salad with Oranges, Feta, and Sugared Pistachios, courtesy of The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook
Serves 6
*the sugared pistachios can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container. Honey can be substituted for the marmalade.

Sugared pistachios
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1/3 cup sugar

3 large oranges (try to get mineola…the BEST oranges I’ve ever tasted. Or Blood Oranges, for the color)
3 Tb. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tb. plus 2 tsp. lemon juice
5 tsp. orange marmalade
1 small shallot, minced
1 Tb. minced fresh mint
salt and pepper
5 cups baby arugula
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

For the pistachios: Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325. Toss pistachios with egg white in small bowl. Using slotted spoon, transfer nuts to prepared baking pan; discard excess egg white. Add sugar and stir until nuts are completely coated. Bake, stirring mixture every 5-10 minutes, until coating turns nutty brown, about 25-30 minutes. Transfer nuts to plate in single layer and let cool.

Peel oranges, cut them into segments, then halve segments and drain to remove excess juice. Whisk oil, lemon juice, marmalade, shallot, mint, 1/4 tsp. salt ,and 1/8 tsp. pepper in large bowl. Add arugula and oranges; toss and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide salad among individual plates; top with a portion of feta and sugared pistachios. Serve immediately.

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