Branzini with Warm Lentil Salad

Branzino@2x-8466

Well, this is it. The day has come. My hot gf and I are officially moving in together. We just signed our first lease.

We’ll be living above a lovely older Italian couple who barely speak a lick of English. When we arrived to sign, they sat us down at their dining room table and served us espresso and homemade tiramisu. We think we’re making the right choice–they also have a big tomato garden out front and make their own wine. Look forward to many future posts featuring our new 80-year-old BFFs, Salvatore and Teresa. We can hardly wait! While writing this, I put on some Caruso to set the tone for the next chapter of our life.

Life has been good altogether lately. My birthday was Saturday. The weekend prior, my hot gf surprised me by taking me to AC to see Bob Dylan. Not only did I get to see my idol, she even let me play poker. She must love me.

This past weekend was a little more low key. Here’s how it went*:

My hot gf took me out for a nice dinner.
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I got some much needed rest.
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She flew a kite for the FIRST TIME EVER. (Seriously, no joke. Apparently she was never a child.)
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I told some jokes.
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My niece and my nephews joined me in a group photo bomb.
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Then they proceeded to blow out my candles. So much for my 31st birthday wish.
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It was just for good health anyway–is there anyone who wishes for anything other than this? Every year I find myself wanting all these things, and then when it comes to the pivotal moment to make my life-changing wish, the only thing I can ever come up with is “to keep living”. Maybe it’s too much pressure in the moment; maybe it just makes sense. I remember reading a quote from some philosopher who said something along the lines of “the wisest man only wishes for good health.” I think it was Homer or someone. Not that Homer, though you can learn a lot from his approach to life too. How ’bout that for a little food for thought?

While we’re on the topic of being a fat lazy slob, my hot gf’s got me on a dietary regime now. Having eaten more spaghetti, chicken parm, and pork brachiole than any sane person should ingest at my parents’ on Sunday, she refuses to let me eat ice cream until I start working out. For lunch, she won’t buy cold cuts and instead has been giving me tabbouleh and lentil salad. I can’t complain–it’s good as fuck. And it makes me feel pretty good too, without even doing any physical activity.

Here’s what she made for dinner on Monday:

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After scoffing it down, I asked, “Am I allowed to eat more lentils?”

“Are u still hungry?” she responded, inquisitively.

“I could eat more.” I’m resorting to lentils at this point: what do u think? “Is this going to be my life now?”

“Once you get healthier you will be allowed to eat more,” she dictated.

I got up and filled my plate. She started to scold me but withheld when she realized she was probably the only person ever to reprimand someone for eating too many lentils.

It was a delicious meal. Healthy and all. A guy as lucky as I am, I should want to live to be 150– you’ve gotta start sometime!

Branzino@2x-8264

*Disclaimer: Some photos have been edited to be facetious and are not intended to be taken seriously or to demonstrate entirely factual events that took place over the weekend. For example, while asleep in the grass, I did not have a penis drawn on my face with Sharpie, but Photoshopped this detail to implicate the presence of college buddies. Also, I do not currently have any jokes involving priests, Mexicans, or black people all in the same set-up, but wanted to point out the odd timing and shot positioning my girlfriend had while taking the picture. I’m not actually sure what sports show was on TV in the background, but judging from the gentleman’s expression, he is not pleased. Perhaps they renegotiated his 7-year contract down to only $130.6 million as opposed to $145.2. That’s nearly a 15 million dollar difference. I would be pissed too.


Lemon Caper Branzini

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 20 min
Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • About 1 3/4 lb bronzini filet (I ask at the fish counter for enough to feed 2 and this was about the weight given to me)
  • 2 lemon slices
  • 1 clove, garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp capers
  • 1/4 cup white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper
  • Aluminium foil and non-stick spray for cooking

Prep Work

-Chop garlic and parsley

Steps

  1. Put 2 pretty large pieces of foil on a counter top (enough to fully enclose the fish) and spay with non-stick spray.
  2. Place 1 lemon slice on each piece of foil and put fish skin side down on top of foil.
  3. Top fish with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, capers, garlic, EVOO, wine and italian parsley.
  4. Close foil packet tightly and place packets on baking sheet.
  5. Bake on 350° for 20 minutes. Serve immediately and top with sauce from packet.

Warm Lentil Salad

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 15 min
Serves: 4-6 as side dish

Ingredients

  • 2 15.5 oz. can brown lentils - you can also use dried, just cook them before starting this recipe
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped - mine were in oil but feel free to also use dried
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper

Prep Work

-Chop onion, garlic, herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach

Steps

  1. Heat EVOO in a large skillet on medium. Sauté red onion until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add sun-dried tomatoes and cook 2 minutes
  3. Add lentils, zest of 1 lemon, juice from half of the lemon, coriander, cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook to combine, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add in the spinach, parsley and mint to wilt spinach, about 2 minutes.
  5. Before serving add at the remaining EVOO and juice from the lemon half. Check seasoning for salt and pepper. Serve warm or cold.

Notes

This is one of those dishes that really works well for leftovers. It is great to make this early in the week, and have it for lunch. When serving it leftover, if desired, you can top it with lemon juice and/or EVOO.