Sunday, June 29, 2008

"Stirring Prose - Cooking with Texas Authors" - Molly Ivins's Composed Salad of Sausage and Orzo with Fresh Peas and MIxed Greens

Date I made this recipe: June 28, 2008
Stirring Prose – Cooking with Texas Authors by Deborah Douglas
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
ISBN: 0-089096-829-2 © 1998
Recipe: Molly Ivins’s Composed Salad of Sausage and Orzo with Fresh Peas and Mixed Greens – p. 130-131

I miss Molly Ivins.

In case you don't know who she was, she was a political writer, some might say satirist, and nobody wrote about politics, particularly the antics of the Texas Legislature (“The Lege”), like she did. To her, it was almost a sport to report on local doings in Austin, the state capital, and as to the national scene, why she was darned near an Olympian. The only thing funnier than her pen was the droll way she talked about politics on the talk show circuit. She should have been a comedienne. (To see some of Molly's finest, check out this link to her quotes:

I hate to say, but one of my favorite pieces that Molly wrote had to do with a member of “The Lege” who lobbied hard against smokestack cleanup back in the 1980's saying that there was nothing wrong with Texas air. After telling the story, Molly inserted a footnote at the bottom of the page telling us that the gentleman eventually died from lung cancer. I shouldn’t have laughed out loud at that but the way Molly wrote, you couldn’t help but see the irony of life.

It’s not for nothing that the name of one of Molly’s most popular books is Molly Ivins Can’t Say That… Can She? She has The Dallas Times Herald to thank for that one. After Molly said of Texas Representative James M. Collins “If his IQ slips any lower, we’ll have to water him twice a day.,” readers bombarded the newspaper with letters prompting The Dallas Times Herald to start a publicity campaign called “Molly Ivins Can’t Say That…Can She?” that ultimately became the book of the same name. After that, Molly was a national star.

Besides being witty as all get-out, Molly spent some time in Minneapolis as a writer for the then-named Minneapolis Tribune. You’ve got to admire a Texan for wanting to be part of the Chosen Frozen even if it was only for a short period of time.

Sadly, Molly died from breast cancer in January 2007 and it was while I was spending time this week with one of my best friends who is battling ovarian cancer that I thought of her again. I intended to make this recipe after Molly died but given that it was a summer salad, I back-burned it (pun intended) for another day. My friend with cancer has just now started eating again after months of eating through a feeding tube and so I hope she prepares this recipe and thinks of Molly (we both loved her writing) and of the hilarious antics of the Texas “Lege,” particularly as we are gunning for the finish line on this next election. Although most of us are exhausted by the year-long quest for the top job, Molly would have literally and figuratively eaten it up. She is missed.

Molly Ivins’s Composed Salad of Sausage and Orzo with Fresh Peas and Mixed Greens (no serving size noted but I cut this recipe in half)
2 cups orzo (about 12 ounces)
2 cups shelled fresh green peas (about 2 lbs. in the pod) (I used frozen)
1 large garlic clove, mined
½ cup pine nuts
12 sweet Italian sausages (about 2 lobs)
¼ cup dry red wine
½ cup chopped scallions
2 T. Dijon-styled mustard
1 ½ tsp salt
½ cup plus 1 ½ T olive oil
4 bunches of lamb’s lettuce (mache), about ½ lb.
8 small radicchio leaves, torn into pieces
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. mayonnaise
¾ tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 Belgian endives, cut into thin strips
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Note: the author indicates that this is a flexible recipe so if you don’t like sausage, don’t use it, if you want lima beans instead of peas, go for it, and if you can’t find the lettuces listed (and I couldn’t), substitute.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Stir in the orzo and cook until the pasta is tender but still firm, about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water; drain well.

Scatter the pine nuts over a small baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes. (Author’s note: 10 minutes on a heavy sheet; on a think cookie sheet they burn easily).

Steam the peas over boiling water until just tender, about 6 minutes. Rinse under cold running water; drain well.

Prick the sausages all over with a fork. In a large skillet, cook the sausages over moderately high heat (medium), turning, until browned, about 10 minutes. Pour off all of the fat. Add the garlic and wine to the skillet. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. (Ann’s note: although I cut the recipe in half, half the amount of wine would have been too little and would have simmered off too quickly so add just a touch more until your pan is coated.) Remove the sausages. Degrease the juice in the pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and ½ teaspoon of the pepper. Gradually whisk in 1/3 cup of the olive oil and the reserved pan juices, until well blended. Add to the orzo and stir to coat.

In a large bowl, toss together the lamb’s lettuce, Belgian endives, and radicchio. Drizzle the lemon juice and the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil over the salad. Season with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and toss.

Place a portion of the greens on each plate, top with a portion of the orzo mixture and arrange 2 sausages, sliced if you like, over the top of the salads.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

I just came across your blog while doing a google on the word "potagerie." I enjoyed looking around, but really wanted to say I loved Molly Ivins too. I hope she and Tim Russert are having a good laugh right now! Anyway, love your blog and the recipes - very original and fun. Cooking, food, cookbooks - new and old, kitchen gardens, ingredients, etc. occupy way too much of my time, but i would not have it any other way either. Thanks for the entertaining break in my research. Best wishes, Barbara in NJ