The call went out. And the foodies poured in.
The people who pickle and the people who vend kitchenware. The people who grow community gardens and the people who grow kombucha. The Slow Food people and the Just Food people. The vegans and the grass-fed meat vendors.
They came, they spoke and they distributed their recycled paper brochures.
Disappointingly, the workshop I really wanted to attend (Permaculture : an introduction to ecological design systems fro sustainability) was stuffed to the walls with folks pouring out into the hallways of John Jay High School.
But the good news is, the lunch was delicious. The finest cafeteria food I’ve ever eaten in a high school cafeteria. (I realize that’s faint praise, but it really is intended with the highest regard.)
They served a tender mushroom quiche that I couldn’t keep my paws off (it was very much like the ones I make, actually) and a delightful bean salad. It had sauteed red onions and a savory sesame dressing. Simple and lovely, with a crunchy shout-out to spring.
Naturally, the cafeteria serving tray was compostable sugar cane and the fork was fashioned of some kind of biodegradable corn plastic. Both went into the conference compost bins, although the napkin I used had to hit the trash can, for inexplicable reasons.
Though I can’t share much of the food conference with you, I’ll try to recreate that tasty salad for you here, dear reader. It seems like it’d be just the thing for a spring picnic: inexpensive to make and no worries of mayonnaise poisoning on a hot day.
Sesame Three-Bean Salad (Makes about 4 cups)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium red onion, halved and sliced
1 cup fiddlehead ferns (or substitute asparagus or green beans cut in 1” pieces)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
2 1/2 cups cooked beans (ideally, a mix of black, pinto and navy)
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a medium-sized skillet. Add the red onions and fiddlehead ferns (or asparagus, if using), and sauté, moving constantly in the pan for 5 minutes or until tender-crisp. Remove from heat.
- In a small bowl, whisk soy sauce and vinegar. Whisk in sesame oil slowly to incorporate.
- Mix the onion mixture with the beans and sliced tomatoes. Toss to coat with the sesame vinaigrette. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning with a little more soy sauce or cider vinegar, to your taste.
- Allow the flavors to mellow for several hours in the fridge before serving.
Thanks to the Brooklyn Food Conference for sponsoring the event, and even more thanks to whomever cooked lunch. You, anonymous kitchen worker(s), made my day.