In the introduction to the section on side dishes in Ad Hoc at Home, Thomas Keller writes,
Because these dishes are weighted toward vegetables, they tend to be the most seasonal recipes in the book. . . . So you may well want to plan a meal by choosing one or two side dishes, and then determining what meat or fish would go well with what you’ve chosen.
That’s a whole new way of thinking to me, as I generally think about varying my proteins with each meal, and then picking a standby side dish to serve with what I have on hand.
But Chef Keller is right (of course). I’ve been shopping at the farmer’s market almost every week during the summer, and the zucchini, eggplant, peaches, nectarines and strawberries have been incredible. (My oldest and I even sampled dragon fruit for the first time – bleh!)
I’m starting my foray into cooking my way through Ad Hoc this week with an asparagus dish, because I’m sure asparagus season is coming to an end at the farmer’s market and I know my husband and I (though not the kids) will absolutely adore the Grilled Asparagus with Prosciutto, Fried Bread, Poached Egg, and Aged Balsamic Vinegar (page 156). I’ll get my asparagus at the farmer’s market, my prosciutto at Whole Foods, and I’ll bake my own country loaf for the fried bread using leftover artisan bread dough from tonight’s pizza. I also have a fabulous balsamic vinegar from Trader Joe’s that I love.