Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I never thought I'd write the following words: It's so peaceful to go to the grocery store with Dash on Fridays. He gets in the cart, we talk about what we're going to cook, and then he gets right to his favorite October subject: Halloween. He is going to be Batman.
He even convinced my husband to buy me a Batmomma costume. I haven't worn a Halloween costume in 20 years but I'll do (almost) anything for my little Batman. Last week at the market Dash told me all about Batman's habits.

"Momma, do you know what Batman does after he saves the day?"
"No idea," I reply.
"He does yoga," he says with absolute certainty.
"That's so smart of him."
"And then he eats a bowl of chocolate soup. Okay, mama? Okay?"

I'm a Batmomma in training.

As I'm unloading our cart at the checkout,  I come up with the idea of Batman Salad.  I tell Dash we're making it for dinner because Batman loves green beans and burrata cheese. The checkout guy looks at me and rolls his eyes. He turns to Dash and says, "Your mom tells the truth MOST of the time." I roll my eyes back at the dude and he says, "What? I was giving you an out. I thought you'd be happy."

When we get home, I let Dash choose all the other ingredients for the Batman Salad. Thanks to Berkeley's October summer, our tiny porch is exploding with cherry tomatoes, basil, parsley, thyme, mint, and lemons. Dash picks, stems, snips, and then piles everything up on the counter.
He proudly carries the uncooked Batman beans over to the stove. We boil them in salty water and shock them in ice water.
Dash makes the salad dressing all by himself. First time ever. He loves bashing the anchovy and garlic with the mortar and pestle to make a paste. To the mortar, he adds four different vinegars, meyer lemon, and some minced shallots.

Stepping back and photographing my son while he uses a knife requires a fantastic amount of letting go on my part. But I think I do pretty well, and so does Dash. He hasn't mastered the curling in of the fingers but he'll get there.
Dash adds lots of Grey Poupon mustard and then he is ready to whisk in the olive oil. Lots and lots of olive oil. He moves through all the steps with such confidence. I realize he has seen me make salad dressing at least twice a week for his entire life. He has really picked up on all the techniques.
I place the burrata on a plate for Dash to examine. "Wow. This is beautiful. It's like a boobie. Can I touch it?" he asks. I change the subject and explain that in fact it's a pouch made from mozzarrella cheese. Burrata means "buttered" in Italian and when you cut through the tough exterior a buttery substance made from mozzarella and cream oozes out. It's crazy delectable. We carefully scoop out little chunks of it for the salad.
I hand over the knife once again so Dash can slice the cherry tomatoes in half. I swear I'm not drunk. He just seems so eager to cut things.
He proudly drizzles way too much dressing all over everything and then does an herb-sprinkling dance.
Dash and Bella snarf up the salad for dinner, lunch the next day, and then dinner again the next night. The beans don't stay vibrant and green but the flavor holds up.

In an ideal world I would have added grilled eggplant and caramelized onions. But this is Batman's salad, not Batmomma's salad.
We have some leftover burrata cheese so the next day I try to convince Dash that Batman LOVES pizza with figs, burrata, caramelized onions, and creme fraiche. He wags his finger at me and says, "Uh-uh. That pizza looks stinky. Batman loves cheese pizza."
Fine. More pizza for Batman's momma.(Batmomma photo styled and photographed by my 7-year old Bella.) 

printable recipe 
Use haricots verts, otherwise use any kind of green bean you can find. I've never made this salad dressing the same way twice since I always use a different combination of vinegar/lemons. Make sure to taste it as you go along.
Serves 4 as a side dish.

1.5 pounds green beans, washed and stemmed
2 teaspoons salt (for boiling water)
1 anchovy
1 clove of garlic
3 tablespoons vinegar (any combination of the following vinegars: red, white, champagne, sherry wine, or balsamic)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 shallots, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon creamy Dijon mustard (I always use Grey Poupon)
6-9 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes
mound of burrata cheese
salt (for salad)
1/3 cup chopped herbs (any combination of mint, basil, thyme, and/or parsley)

Boil a big pot of water. Add salt. Boil green beans for a minute or two. I like them still crunchy but cook them how you like them. While they're cooking, prepare an ice bath (water plus ice). Strain green beans and immediately shock them in the water bath. Leave in the cold water until cool. Strain in a colander and then place on a dishtowel to dry.

For the salad dressing. Make a paste with the anchovy and garlic with a mortar and pestle or on a cutting board with a chef knife. Combine paste with vinegars, lemon juice, and shallots. Let sit for a few minutes. Whisk in mustard. Slowly whisk in some of the olive oil. Pour the oil in slowly enough that it emulsifies. Taste. If necessary, slowly add more olive oil. Just keep tasting as you go along.

Place cooked green beans in a bowl. Halve the cherry tomatoes and add them to the beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add some salad dressing. Mix with your hands. Taste. Add more dressing if necessary. Place in a tall mound on a plate. Scoop out small chunks of burrata cheese and place all over the salad. Sprinkle with chopped herbs. Serve immediately. If the salad sits for a bit the beans will start to lose their vibrant green color but they'll still taste good.

grilled eggplant
caramelized onions
hazelnuts, pine nuts, or slivered almonds