10 October 2014

Roasted Greens with Ricotta

It was meant to be the "summer of Cynthia", or so this is what I told myself, back in June as I plotted and prepared to leave my regular 9 to 5 job. I was going to re-enter the great freelancing army of New York, that along with a daily dose of human interaction teaching pilates each day at my favorite little studio in Carroll Gardens
Prying myself away from the dead-end job I'd been in for too many years ended up being a little harder and a lot more stressful than expected. As June morphed into July, and I found the need to lull myself to sleep listening to a meditation app, I finally left. Unfortunately, before I'd had a chance to breathe in the carefree summer I was faced with the hospitalization of not one, but both of my parents. They're the elderly sort of parents -- my dad just turned 80 and my mom will soon be 77. Neither of them are spring chickens, but it seemed a little too much, my dad with a serious heart condition along with newly diagnosed dementia, and mom with a less serious but more debilitating injury. My siblings and I joined the great leagues of adult children everywhere forced into making decisions for their parents.

While this put in perspective the stress-levels of my silly job, I was comforted by the knowledge that I had been initiated into a new sort of adult club as I began receiving caring and insightful emails and messages from friends who had been through similar challenges in finding themselves caring for their elderly parents and relatives.

All of this has ushered in not so much "the Autumn of Cynthia" but rather, "the Autumn of Simplicity". (I'd use the word Fall but it sounds too like the Fall of Caesar, or other such tragedies). Happily, my commute now amounts to a long walk from my bedroom to my office at the other end of my apartment. I'm persistently leading a charge of un-complicating my life. Little things like doing one thing at a time and not thinking about the future things I need or want to do while I'm mid-task, going to bed before I fall asleep on the couch, taking the laundry out before it weighs 30 pounds, de-cluttering my desk, and so on.
This recipe is placed squarely in the category my new worklife seems to dictate -- simple, homemade and barely a recipe not too dissimilar from ordering take-out in that it takes about the same amount of time and effort. I call it lunch.

Roasted Greens with Ricotta
Inspired by Sunday Suppers, via Feast Cookbook
Serves 2-4

1 bunch broccolini, cut into florets
1 bunch broccoli, also cut into florets
1 bunch Tuscan or Lacinato kale, stemmed and cut into 2-in/5-cm pieces
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Maldon sea salt or other flaky salt
6-8 oz fresh ricotta cheese or fresh Buratta
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes or Aleppo Pepper 

Preheat the broiler to high. Toss the broccolini and kale with half the garlic, lemon zest, and olive oil. On a separate tray, toss the broccoli with the remaining oil, zest, and garlic. Season both lightly with salt.  Broil each sheet, tossing halfway through cooking, until the kale is crispy and the broccoli is tender and slightly charred but still bright green, about 5 minutes.

Divide between two to four small plates and top each with a dollop of ricotta. Sprinkle the ricotta with black pepper and red pepper flakes and drizzle each plate with finishing oil. Serve warm or at room temperature, with more lemon wedges for squeezing over the top.

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