Friday, June 6, 2008

Lunch- my favorite meal

(This was really good)
MMmmm, lunch. The last of my lettuce will be picked this weekend, and I just might plant some (inedible!) Gerbera daisies in their place; we've had some hot weather lately and the delicious little lettuce plants are gearing up bolt. They are getting a might bitter.
This salad combines mixed greens, tomato salsa, and homemade blue cheese dressing, with roasted chick peas and the last of the leftover quinoa pilaf. I love the combination of creamy blue cheese dressing and a spicy tomato salsa on salad- they are a nice compliment to each other.

Here's the provenance and anatomy of lunch:

From the garden:
Mixed lettuce
Kales (Red Russian and curly)
Asian mustards
Lemon thyme

From far away, canned veg:
Organic chick peas (roasted- see recipe below)
Organic chopped tomatoes (for salsa, see recipe below)

From far away; dairy:
Blue cheese Hormone-free-- (see blue cheese dressing recipe, below)
Organic goat's milk
Organic sour cream, or organic cream cheese blended with milk

From far away; fruit:
Fresh lemon

From far away; misc:
Celtic salt
Bragg's apple cider vinegar
Lebanese olive oil
California black olives

You might have noticed by now that I rarely do what the dear, brilliant Julia Child would have called "cooking". She hated Italian food- she claimed it wasn't cooking, it was "combining". While I love what Madam Julia did for the palette in the US, on this one point I completely disagree. My style of cooking definitely veers towards the Mediterranean, on all sides of that sea. And on that particular sea, it is all about combining. And, if your ingredients are fresh, seasonal, and at their best, combining is all food really needs.
Simple homemade salsa (cheating with canned tomato)
1- 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes in sauce (I like Muir Glen organic- no HFCS)
2- medium, or 1- large white onion, finely chopped
3 or 4- cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/8 cup of best olive oil you lay your hands on
Salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste (or chopped habanero, if in season)
Handful of cilantro from garden to taste, finely chopped- use stems, too
Splash of apple cider vinegar, if desired
Combine the above. That's it. It makes double the amount of store-bought for half the price. And it keeps for a long time, not that it will last very long- in our house it's gone in 3 days. In season, this is amazing with garden tomatoes. That glorious day is least 6 weeks away for me, but since my cilantro is coming along, I've been craving salsa.
Simple roasted beans (cheating with canned beans)
1 or 2- large cans of beans (I like Westbrae Naturals- no HFCS)
(Beans can be garbanzos, red beans, kidney beans, cannellini- any bean your little heart desires)
1/8 cup of the best olive oil you can lay your hands on (Good olive oil makes a difference)
Salt to taste
Splash or two of tamari
Cayenne pepper to taste (or chopped habanero, if in season)
1 to 2 cloves of garlic (optional)
Combine ingredients in a bowl. Spread in single layer on cookie sheet (foil on cookie sheet is helpful). Broil in oven on med-low until desired crunch or consistency- usually about 15 or 20 minutes. The beans are already cooked so it's a matter of mouth-feel. I cook them until they aren't mealy anymore, which (tragically) involves a lot of sampling...

Simple blue cheese dressing (for 2-3 salads)
1/4 cup organic blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup organic sour cream
splash organic milk (optional- I use goat's milk)
lemon juice, until desired consistency
Crack of fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Sometimes I leave out the sour cream- I did this time. But it's better with it.

Combine. You know the drill. This keeps about 3 days, but it never sticks around that long.


Ian said...

ilex, that salad looks good enough to serve anywhere around the Mediteranean Sea.

Melissa said...

sounds delicious - and I love your observation about combining - good food shouldn't need much messing around with, should it?

Maggie said...

Yum! I love chickpeas, I used to be able to get Aussie organic chickpeas, my last lot was from far away. I always soak, cook, eat and keep some in the freezer. They are great sprinkled with olive oil, paprika and chilli as a snack, or made into any veggie hummus or chickpea curry, what time is lunch?

Robbyn said...

I'm with you on the love of Mediterranean (sp?) food (too lazy to spell-check it, though...ha!) I love how you're posting about your meals...major Yum :)

L.Bo Marie said...

mmm, going to have to try out the bean thing!
And... I ALWAYS cheat at my salsa.... Unless I'm making it for more than two people... large quantities deserve fresh.
hahaha, though, last year, I made it for 300... and forgot to drain it while I chopped... it ended up being more like a soup... the weight of the tomatoes on themselves was JUICEY!

lamarguerite said...

Ilex, you are making me so huuungry!

Do you know about Mother Earth? She often comments on my blog also, and she too likes to share some of her scrumptious, healthy meals with the rest of the world.

As usual, thanks for bringing a bit of earth in the otherwise dry world of Internet.

ilex said...

All you guys can come to lunch at my house anytime- open invitation, officially issued.

Marguerite, thanks for the headsup on Mother Earth. I will seek her out.

d. moll, said...

Yuummy, blue cheese dressing sounds good, want to try it on steamed greens.....

ilex said...

That blue cheese dressing is amazing on everything- lemon juice really brings it to life. I love the idea of putting it on steamed greens.