Monday, June 11, 2007

Snacks for hungry dancers

As wiry as dancers might look, they can be a hungry bunch. This past weekend, the company I work with, Chamberdance, performed at the Cowell Theater. Theater week is a terribly stressful time and the company spends about six hours a night in the theater in the run up to the show--nine on the day of the show.

Funnily enough, that same weekend was the Slow Food Golden Glass wine tasting event in the Herbst Pavilion on the same pier as the theater. I walked down the outside corridor bearing trays of my own food but glancing sideways at the tables. Personally, I think the dancers were getting some pretty good stuff, if I do say so myself...

So what do you feed twenty hungry dancers?

It has to be easy to eat in bites and nibbles (in the short breaks between stints of lighting), not too greasy or sticky (dirty hands on clean costumes? NIGHTmare...), and provide some calories and energy to take them through a long night.

I usually make variations on tea sandwiches, this time it was smoked turkey with provolone, arugula and pesto mayonnaise for the white meat eaters, and also roast beef with Havarti and dijon mustard on dark rye for the red meat types.

For some longer lasting energy I like to make a pasta salad. This recipe, adapted from Cuisine, is a little tangy, but really flavorful and easy to eat in small bowls.

Tomato, Fennel and Red Onion Salad

2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes cut in half
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste

2 fennel bulbs sliced
1 red onion cut into wedges
2 Tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp toasted crushed fennel seeds

1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt

1 lb spiral pasta, cooked al dente and tossed in a litle olive oil

3 cups cleaned arugula

Preheat the oven to 250F and toss the tomatoes in olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and roast for 1-2 hours, until they are shriveled and the flavor has intensified.

In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Roast the fennel and red onion in the skillet, placing only as many slices as will comfortably fit in the skillet at one time. Don't crowd the pan. Don't move them around, but let them caramelize by cooking for about 10 minutes per side. Repeat in batches till all of them are done.

In a food processor, pulse and mince the parsley, lemon zest, and salt. Set aside.

Combine the white wine vinegar, sugar, sat and fennel seeds for a vinaigrette, and set aside.

When you're ready to serve, in a large bowl, combine all the ingredients: pasta, vegetables, tomatoes, parsley and lemon and vinaigrette. Toss it with your hands as fingers are gentler than tongs.

I also make about a gallon of raspberry lemonade. It's an embarrassingly easy and terribly declasse recipe that I forget where I found, but it is deliciously refreshing:

Raspberry Lemonade

2 12 oz cans frozen lemonade
1 12 oz bag frozen raspberries
3 liters seltzer water
mint sprigs

Combine all ingredients in large vat. Blend with an immersion blender until pureed. Strain into pitcher/s to remove seeds & pulp. Chill and serve with sprigs of mint.

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