The forecast for today was 81°F with thunderstorms. Generally, that means hot and muggy. They got the 81° part right – but no thunderstorms and no humidity. It was an absolutely perfect day.

I spent the majority of it outside reading – being retired can be rough – and when I wasn’t reading, I was playing with Blanche or futzing with the seedlings that are getting ready to be planted.

As I said, being retired can be rough.

Perfect weather calls for salads around here, and with a produce bin full of fresh goodies, I had a lot to choose from. We had picked up some Belgian endive and I thought it would work braised and cooled. We always have leeks and I thought a braised leek with parmesan would work. And then I received an email from La Cucina Italiana – in Italian – that spoke of fennel roasted in the oven with parmesan.

I had my salad.

I cleaned and sliced a leek in half, and took half a fennel bulb and cut it in half. Into a hot skillet they went with olive oil, white wine, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. I covered the pan and let it all steam and cook. When they were mostly done, I added the endive and continued on…

I took everything out of the skillet and laid it out on a sheet pan and covered everything with a hefty coating of Pepato cheese. Pepato is a Sicilian pecorino cheese with peppercorns. I get it from Downtown Cheese at Reading Terminal Market. It’s Locatelli on steroids!

It went under the broiler.

The steak was a NY strip steak liberally doused with Penzey’s Mitchell Street Steak Seasoning.

Besides mixed greens, I added watermelon radishes and roasted golden beets and topped it all off with our favorite Spicy French Dressing.

It was perfection on an oval plate! Great contrast of flavors and textures – the cheese worked with all of the vegetables and the beets and radishes added contrast and texture, as well.

A fun meal on a perfect day. In the immortal words of Ira Gershwin, who could ask for anything more?!?