Had I known there would be such a poetic write-up about this quick and humble meal, I would have set my phone aside and pulled out the camera, or maybe just tried to take a few decent shots outside of our dim dining room, but I had no clue the husband was connected to the dinner at this level. That's the beauty of marriage, you can't be paying attention ALL THE TIME.
I was however paying attention to my cooking that evening, and want to point out an oversight by Mr. Poetry -- during the last five minutes of baking, I drizzled blackberry balsamic syrup on the pizza. This of course married all the flavors, and added a tinge of sweetness. Besides this minor neglected fact, I think the husband really captures all his complex emotions about sardines, speeding tickets and relying on his garden (considering he doesn't do the grocery shopping).
I awake with a singular and confounding craving: I want a quiche pizza. I don’t necessarily need the eggs (which the wife later points out makes a quiche), but I want the rest of that gooey, hearty-greens-and-cheese filling sitting atop a baked dough. Often, I dream up a meal out of combination of food in the fridge, freezer, and my garden. Rarely does my mental construction become a dinner. But, I could actually make this pizza. I know I have some leftover homemade pizza dough lurking somewhere (freezer, thankfully, where 3 month old dough should safely lurk), some leftover gruyere and parmesan cheese (fridge), and a healthy amount of mixed greens (garden). This thought process all occurs before 7AM, so all I need to do now is wait about 10 hours and make it for dinner. Oh, the suspense. . .
Traditional Chinese astrology asserts this is the year of the Horse. For me, however, it is the year of the Sardine. I actually like the taste of these little guys, but there’s economic reason for the decision, too, which involves me, Tony Bennet duets, and ultimately a speeding ticket (jazz standards really get the heart pumping, and the pedal too close to the metal for me at 6:30AM). Anyway, the much-maligned fish is extremely versatile, and I think what better complement to the savory pizza I’ve thought up than a nice sardine salad? The wife and I had encountered just such a salad in Point Peyes, the sardines accompanied by beluga lentils, and I think, “she can probably do that, especially when I give up.”
The dinner prep hour finally arrives. I pick greens from the garden, the wife makes a tantalizingly light, citrusy dressing for the salad. I shape the pizza dough, she cooks down kale, Swiss chard, mustard greens, and in a stroke of inspiration I can’t even imagine (marry somebody who sees things you can’t, and you’ll be happy), she adds in some radicchio, too. The pizza quiche topping is exactly what I hoped for. I par bake the crust, and we add gruyere and parmesan, the wilted greens, and a dash of olive oil and throw the completed pie into the oven for about 8 minutes. This is the result:
A delicious dream fulfilled, for sure. The lesson here, folks, is to dream neither too big nor too small when you cook. Instead, dream of things you already have lying about, just waiting to be seen anew and reconfigured. It can lead you to creative places that established recipes in cook books rarely tread. And don’t forget to spice it up with some sardine action. That never hurts. Just check out the nutritional value on them!