Brussel Sprouts, Apple, and Pomegranate Salad


I haven’t posted on the blog for a while because I was traveling. Steve and I celebrated New Year’s eve in Lisbon with out friends. We ate bacalao (salt cod) cooked with potatoes and eggs, pasteis de nata (the ubiquitous Portuguese egg tarts), and drank lots of vinho verde wine. We listened to fado music in a neighborhood restaurant, where the owners, a husband who cooked and wife who served us, both sang for us and brought us to tears with emotion.

We then went to Paris where we spent time with friends and observed the tail end of the latest Parisian food fad: hot dogs. Yes, hot dogs. Last year it was bagels, the year before it was cupcakes, and before them it was burgers. Despite the fascination with the worst of American cuisine, I’m happy to report that the food scene in Paris is thriving, with countless little restaurants offering home-cooked, delicious meals everywhere.

Before coming back to New York I went to Cyprus for a week to visit my family and a day after I arrived I was struck with a nasty case of stomach flu that pretty much destroyed my appetite, so I didn’t get to enjoy my mom’s cooking as much as I would have liked.

By the time I came back home, after being away for almost four weeks, I was craving simple and familiar food. My body demanded salads and grilled chicken. This brussel sprout salad with apples and pomegranate will soothe any travel-weary stomach. We made it for the first time last Thanksgiving and we loved it. It’s fresh and sweet-tart with a satisfying crunch. It holds well in the fridge so you can make it in advance or store left overs for next day’s meal.


Brussel Sprouts, Apple, and Pomegranate Salad – Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Serves 4-6


1/2 large red onion, diced small
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons ground sumac
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to season salad
2 cups shredded brussels sprouts (you can shred them with a food processor or thinly slice them with a sharp knife)
1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (from about 1/2 a large one)
1/2 a large peeled apple, cored and diced
Juice of half a lemon, plus more to taste
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup toasted, cooled walnuts, lightly crushed or coarsely chopped
Aleppo pepper (or ground chipotle chile pepper, urfa biber peppers, hot smoked paprika or another chile flake) to taste


Make the sumac-pickled onions: Combine red onion, wine vinegar, sumac and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a small bowl and set aside while you prepare the other ingredients, or ideally at least 15 minutes.

Combine all salad ingredients, including red onions and their pickling liquid, in a medium bowl and season to taste with salt and red pepper. Taste and adjust ingredients as desired.

This salad can be prepped ahead, but keep the dressing off of it until at most an hour before serving so it doesn’t discolor the sprouts.

Charlie Bird’s Farro Salad


There is a time of day when Provincetown becomes magical. As the sun sets behind the town’s houses and gradually changes colors, it illuminates the harbor. The water, dotted with little boats, becomes a palate of teal blue and tangerine orange, while the sky goes from bubblegum pink to ruby red before letting darkness take over. When you are standing on the deck of a restaurant or a bar, or walking along the cool sand, and watching this live painting take shape in front of your eyes, you understand why so many painters and other artists have flocked to this little enclave for decades. Resting at the tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown has beckoned to everyone from Eugene O’Neill to Jackson Pollock to Michael Cunningham and they have found inspiration here to produce some of the best work.DSC05240

For decades, Provincetown has been called an “artist colony”, which for a long time also served as a veiled euphemism for what Ptown (as it’s also know) really is: a gay town. This is a place where gay men and women have felt safe and welcome even before they did so anywhere else in the country. It’s a town where couples of same sex (as well as couples of opposite sex) can display affection publicly without any reproach or fear of being attacked. Where drag queens are a constant sight on the main street that runs along the town and families with children will be eating lunch next to a group of leather-clad bears like it’s an everyday occurrence.

Provincetown is one of my favorite places on earth. That’s where we spent a week this August, as our last summer vacation before the beginning of the fall and work taking over. It was, as always, a wonderfully relaxing, yet exciting six days, doing nothing but walking around, eating and drinking, and enjoying the beauty of the town (as well as dancing for two hours to nothing by Madonna music at the famous Boat Slip tea dance on a Wednesday afternoon).

It’s never easy to say goodbye to summer. It makes me understand why people pack up and move to Los Angeles or Florida. But I try to remind myself that even after Labor Day is gone, we’ll have weeks of beautiful weather that’s even better than some of the unbearably hot days in August. And to stay in a summer mood, we’ll eat “summery” foods, like this farro salad that I first tasted when our friend Greg made it while we were on Fire Island (another “artist colony”) for a weekend earlier this summer. I loved it so much, that we’ve already had it at least four more times in the last couple of months. It’s incredibly flavorful and the chewy farro and crunchy pistachios give it a substance that makes it sufficient as a dinner main dish. Take advantage of the late season basil and make this today. I plan to make it year round, substituting what’s out of season with something that is. And when I eat it, I will think of next summer when I’ll be back at Provincetown, watching the sunset.DSC05258

Charlie Bird’s Farro Salad – Slightly adapted from the New York Times

Note: For a vegan version, omit the parmesan cheese or substitute it with vegan cheese or some nutritional yeast.


1 cup farro
1 cup apple cider or apple juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
2 bay leaves
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
70 grams Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler (about 1/2 cup)
70 grams chopped pistachio nuts (about 1/2 cup)
2 cups arugula leaves
1 cup basil leaves, torn
1 cup mint leaves
¾ cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
⅓ cup thinly sliced radish
Maldon or other flaky sea salt, for finishing


In a medium saucepan, bring farro, apple cider, salt, bay leaves and 2 cups water to a simmer. Simmer until farro is tender, about 30 minutes. If all the liquid evaporates before the farro is done, add more water. Let farro cool, then discard bay leaves.

In a salad bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Add arugula, herbs, tomatoes, and radish and toss well. Add cheese and pistachio nuts and toss lightly. Sprinkle flaky salt to taste and serve immediately.

Carrot Salad with Spicy Lemon Dressing


I went to Cyprus last week and spent it with my family. It happened to be both my sister’s birthday and mine, the first time I was there to celebrate my birthday with them since I left 26 years ago. Unlike here in the U.S., when it’s your birthday in Cyprus you are the one who treats people to drinks or dinner. So my sister and I took everyone out to their favorite restaurant, a Syrian restaurant, where the waiters all have stories of their families back home, or what is left of it. It’s hard to reconcile the delicious salads and dips they place in front of you with the place of death and destruction they come from.

It also happened to be Greek Orthodox Easter week while I was there. It’s a different kind of celebration in Cyprus, less commercial than in the U.S. (there’s no Easter bunny or bonnets to be found), more traditional and somewhat religious. At midnight on Saturday, people go to church to hear the “good news” and receive the “holy light” on their candles, to bring it back and bless their home. Groups of young men explode fireworks (every year some lose fingers, hands, or lives) and light up a huge bonfire behind the church “to burn Judas”, though no effigy is ever burned. On Friday, the day before, my parents got an alert from the home security company that outdoor furniture was being stolen from homes, to be used on Saturday night’s bonfires. As I said, somewhat religious.

My youngest niece decided that her favorite game was to fake-face paint each other, with dry brushes, describing each step so that we could visualize it. Now I’m painting your face green, since you are a frog. And now I’m drawing two big eyes with my brush. We played for hours until I collapsed. She could have gone for a few hours more. My oldest niece, a teenager, showed me the music she listens to and I recognized about 1% of it. She told me that she’d like me to be cooler. I said I’d try.

Carrot Salad with Spicy Lemon Dressing – Slightly adapted from The Bitten Word


1 tbsp harissa
1/6 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1 lb carrots, grated on large teardrop holes or coarsely shredded in a food processor
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
4 oz feta, crumbled


In a small bowl, whisk the harissa with the lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and whisk again.

In a large bowl, add the carrots and raisins, and pour the harissa dressing on top. Toss well.

Sprinkle parsley and feta on top and serve at room temperature.

Carrot Salad (with blueberries…maybe)

This isn’t much of a recipe. That is, the ingredients aren’t anything special and there are no strict measurements for them. But there are a few things that are important, and if you follow them, this simple combination of carrots, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt become something ethereal but snappy, light but hearty.


This is what you do. Take carrots (here I took 6 small ones) and grate them using the small teardrop holes of the grater. This is important. The small teardrop holes shred the carrots into fine threads that are juicy but have just a tiny bit of bite to them. The result is a mushy pulp that makes you want to take another bite, and another, and another. I know it’s a pain and that the large holes take less time, but trust me on this one.


Put the carrots in a bowl and add a generous splash of good olive oil (for the 6 small carrots I added 1 1/2 tablespoons) and a good amount of lemon juice. None of the bottled stuff. You need real juice from real lemons. And you need more than you probably think (I used 1 tablespoon here). Finally, you need salt (I added 3 good pinches of kosher salt). The result is sweet, sour, salty, and a little fatty, thanks to the oil.


It should all end here, and it almost always does. But as I opened the fridge to put the half cut lemon back in, I saw the packet of fresh blueberries I had bought earlier and I though, what the hell. So in they went. And you know what? It worked great. Again, sweet, sour, salty, and fatty. Can’t go wrong. But if you don’t have blueberries, no worries. All you need is carrots, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Simple as that.