In addition to being the name of a winery that turns out killer Cabernet, far niente translates roughly to “sweet doing nothing” or as Webster’s says “pleasant relaxation in carefree idleness.” I was reminded of the value of far niente the other night when I decided to put an Italian spin on dinner, when in fact I should have let the produce relax pleasantly in carefree, unadorned idleness. We had defrosted two awesome bone-in New York steaks (we have a freezer full of beef from Heritage Foods USA) and had picked up some corn and red onions from the farmers market. Our newly planted herb garden is totally out of control—who knew Italian parsley multiplied like rabbits?—so I plucked a handful of Italian parsley, basil and lemon thyme for a makeshift pesto with leftover Marcona almonds to go on the steaks.
Meanwhile, my husband grilled our loot to perfection.
Inspired by a Mario Batali recipe I’d seen, I brushed the grilled corn with balsamic and olive oil, sprinkled with mint from the garden and some red pepper flakes. For the onions, I’d made a balsamic glaze stovetop with more lemon thyme and crushed garlic. And here’s the deal. The pesto on the steaks was great, but did the steaks need the adornment? No. And the corn? I’ll take my corn on the cob with plain old melted butter ANY day. And the grilled onions with the balsamic glaze were certainly enjoyable, but the onions were so perfect, so sweet that again, they didn’t need to be “dressed up.” So next time, I’ll save the herbs for a salad and serve the rest of dinner far niente.