Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fresh and Local Salad

There is one statement that always seems to leave me feeling totally stumped in the kitchen. It goes something like this:

"Make a list of ingredients for me and I will go shopping so that you can cook dinner."

A list? Where do I begin? There are too many options, and every one of them involves taking a giant risk. What if I say to get eggplant, but the eggplants are all soft and brown at the store?
At this point I usually try to convince the person that I would be happy to cook dinner with whatever they have in their kitchen.

In my opinion, preparation is a very small part of what makes food delicious. When I make something that turns out tasty, it is generally because the ingredients grown are tasty to begin with. Cooking is not a solo activity, but a cooperation between the cook, the gardener, and the creator of the vegetables (Nature, God, the Sun, or whatever you believe generates the spark of life). When asked to generate a list, it is like saying "do this by yourself" or "do this with your eyes closed". The task seems daunting.

There are other reasons that I prefer not to cook from recipes. When using a recipe, every time a meal needs to be prepared new ingredients need to be purchased. Cooking with what you have means that the carrots in your crisper get used instead of piled on top of.

We had very little in our refrigerator today, but I had some cauliflower left over from my farmers market demo, and some beans from my CSA (Webster Farm Organic). I had some basil and carrots grown by Dehn's Farm and some fresh purple garlic from one of the Hmong growers.

Fresh and Local Salad
In a pot of boiling water, blanch
1 small head cauliflower
2 cups assorted cut fresh snap beans
after about 4 min, remove from the burner and drain veggies. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, then drain and set in a bowl.
While the pan is still hot, add 3 Tbsp olive oil, a pinch salt and 3 cloves minced garlic. Pour over the veggies. Mix in 2 medium carrots, diced and 3/4 cup chopped basil.

Dress with:
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar,
1 Tbsp olive oil,
1 tsp brown sugar,
1/2 tsp ume plum vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Christina's vote: "This salad made me want to repel down the side of a building"

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