Guilt makes good food.

Oh, the joy. I picked up my first CSA box of the year last Wednesday night, and though I had a couple nights of pizza weakness, it felt really good to be cooking again. I had actually missed that tinge of guilt I felt every time I opened the fridge. “Damn it, I have to do something with that chard” or “Right, there’s cauliflower. Not going to make soup and not going to roast it. Something new.”

Over the weekend I attended Cook Here and Now, Marco Flavio’s brilliantly successful cooking group, where we gather to cook and eat together. He chooses a theme ingredient, plus some additional produce notes for seasonal inspiration. This month was legumes plus root veggies. It was another cold, rainy day in a series of cold, rainy days and multiple plates of stews, dals and the like seemed pretty perfect.

I signed up for a lentil appetizer, and though I had visions of fried chickpea cakes in my mind initially, I changed the plan when I came across a recipe for Umbrian Lentil Stew with Olive-Oil Fried Eggs in this month’s Food and Wine. I made it for dinner (win), but decided to omit the eggs and somehow adapt it into an appetizer. Stew as app, it was a challenge.

But innovation came with the root veggie mandate. I took my cue from the Alice Water’s recipe I’d tried a few months ago, where all it takes to make turnips tasty is a little salt, a little butter and a pan. I turned the ‘nips into squares, browned them, chilled them, and called ‘em Turnip Toast.

I had a lot of lentils left over. Come Monday dinner, there they were in the fridge, alongside the CSA remains I had yet to get to. Though the prospect of continuing a somewhat sedate weekend was really compelling, I did the right thing. I put in a load of laundry, and I got to prepping some chard. Simple sautéed chard with super-fresh shallots in a bowl with some lentil stew and topped with, well, an olive-oil fried egg.

It was a really good bowl of food. I didn’t fully expect it to be. But there was something about this confluence of earthy flavors that felt particularly comforting with the storm outside. The crisp edges of the fried egg, the buttery softness of the spilling yellow into the bowl, the meaty bite of the lentils (helped by a little prociutto), and some red chard rounding it all out with a toothy, green bite. Not bad for leftovers.

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