Writing a cookbook is awesome and terrible. Awesomely terrible?
I feel like maybe I shouldn’t break the third wall by admitting the absolute shitshow that is Dude Diet recipe testing, but I try to keep things real around here, and sweet. baby. Jesus. My kitchen, my sanity, and my digestive system are in shambles.
(Let’s just acknowledge that I LOVE The Dude Diet and am super grateful to be doing this so that I can go on with my oversharing guilt-free. Thanks.)
As I’ve mentioned many times before, I have some mild obsessive tendencies, and they’ve really come out to play during this all-consuming process. Needless to say, I want to feed future Dude Dieters the dankest possible creations, so I find myself testing and tweaking each recipe an embarrassing number of times to make sure it’s up to snuff. For example, I’ll think I’ve perfected something like Jalapeño-Cheddar Cornbread, but just when I’m about to write out the recipe, the doubt will slowly creep in. Is it sweet enough? Too spicy? Appropriately MOIST? And then I’m all, “Well, Serena, you can never be too safe. Maybe you should make it again. Just seven more times once.”
I am lucky enough to have amassed an army of recipe testers over the past few weeks (Hi, guys! I love you!), and they are helping to tame my crazy significantly, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t make infinity different blueberry crumbles yesterday and end up in the fetal position feeling like the real-life Violet Beauregarde. (At some point I stopped making the full crumble and just baked different versions of the topping to determine if it was the oats or the flour that was causing the textural issues. THE OATS OR THE FLOUR??! Sadly, that’s still TBD.)
Adding insult to recipe testing injury, summer in NYC has really hit its stride (read: it’s steamy AF), and there’s no AC unit in the kitchen. This is not good, especially given my sweating problem and general failure to hydrate. I’ve now taken to cooking in the semi-nude to survive in my culinary sauna, which may sound fun and sexy but isn’t (there are flip-flops and a humidity fro’ involved). The naked chef routine has worked so far, but as temperatures rise, I may need to consider making bolder moves, like building a wind tunnel or hiring an intern to spritz me with one of those spray-fan bottles all day. (Any takers??? I’ve got meatballs!)
Sidenote: Logan is very concerned that I’m going to pass out from heat stroke, hit my head, and die in our kitchen this summer. I’ve obviously written this off as overly melodramatic, as he’s also afraid I’m going to die: in the bathtub (via electrocution from my Kardashian-watching devices), crossing the street (because I’m always reading emails on my phone), or because I never, ever exercise. He’s a worrier.
Anyhoo, in addition to messing with mind and body temp, this Dude Diet recipe testing gig has really wreaked havoc on my eating habits. Because I a.) need to taste each trial, and b.) feel guilty wasting things, I end up ingesting some very odd food combos. For example, last week I ate mostly coconut chia pudding, chili dogs, and Asian cucumber slaw. (In hindsight, that was pretty balanced compared to the very dark three-day stretch where I consumed exclusively meatloaf and chocolate pound cake.) As I’m used to a diet heavy in Greek yogurt, avocado toast, and kale, my bod is not responding well to this new normal, and I’ve been craving salads like no other. So yesterday, I took a brief timeout from crumbles and chicken wing experiments to make myself this Arugula and Farro Salad with Cherries and Goat Cheese.
This salad really hit the spot, friends. It’s light, fresh and nourishing, and I can honestly say it did wonders for my physical and mental health. I’m on a cherry kick lately (who isn’t?), and they’re particularly magical when tossed with creamy goat cheese, peppery arugula, cool mint and spicy red onions. Farro provides some necessary heft, and the whole shebang is tied together with a maple-sweetened citrus dressing. It tastes like summer and happiness and this song. Hallelujah.
I’m digging this cherry madness as a sassy desk lunch or super light dinner, but it would make an equally fabulous appetizer or side for your summer soirées. It’s easily adaptable (swap cherries for peaches or plums, goat cheese for feta, quinoa for farro, etc.), you can obviously bulk things up with some grilled chicken or steak if you like, and it comes together in a flash. It also happens to be a total looker, so I’m hoping you’ll work it into the rotation STAT.
Happy Tuesday, peeps! I’m off to strip down and take my crumble for another spin. Wish me luck.
Arugula and Farro Salad with Cherries and Goat Cheese: (Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as an appetizer/side)
½ cup semi-pearled farro
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1½ teaspoons pure maple syrup
Fresh ground pepper
½ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
4 cups baby arugula
¼ medium red onion, very thinly sliced
1¼ cups cherries, halved and pitted
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
Preparing your Arugula and Farro Salad with Cherries and Goat Cheese:
-Cook your farro according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
-Transfer your salad to a serving bowl/platter or individual plates and top with crumbled goat cheese. (You can also toss the cheese with the salad if you prefer, but it tends to melt a little and can make things clump together. Your call.)