Today was a fine day for inventing a new dish for lunch and for trying out two recipes I had never attempted before, for dinner.
Lunch was inspired by available elements of past, present, and future salads. Favorite tools played a part, as well. The tool is a Kuhn Rikon mandoline-style julienne cutter. I decided to finish the unused half of a purple daikon radish and one large steamed beet. The tool made quick (and safe) work of the task. The vegetable sticks went into two prep dishes, and then were flavored quickly with several pinches of Sicilian sea salt. This incentivized me to examine the refrigerator for other candidate ingredients, and I found the tail end of Barbara’s excellent cole slaw, and some leftover asparagus spears with sautéed shallots. I had slow-roasted plum tomatoes a couple of days ago, so I grabbed a few of those, along with a small chunk of jalapeños pickled in the Fall.
I mixed all the vegetables together in a bowl, then added salt, pepper, Kala Namak (the volcanic salt from India, which whose sulfurous flavors complement beets beautifully), Greek olive oil, and a touch of red wine vinegar. Two slices of my sourdough, topped with homemade Kalamata olive tapenade completed the preparation. I poured a small glass of a Portuguese red wine from the Douro Valley, and then devoured it all with gusto.
A few hours later it was time to make dinner. I had not figured out what I was going to make yet, but I did have a pot of just-cooked Marcella cannellini beans from Rancho Gordo, so that’s where I began the planning. Grabbing one of Joyce Goldstein’s cookbooks on Mediterranean cooking, I found a recipe that seemed to be just what I needed. Since Barbara is a bit limited in how much beans she will tolerate, I thought the recipe selected would be highly acceptable, since it combined the beans with a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette, and sautéed shrimp, which were in our freezer and could be defrosted in two hours.
It turned out to be a good choice, but it was also a lot of work, since I first had to make the vinaigrette, prep the beans, and defrost and shell the shrimp. And — of course — I decided that I could make two other dishes to complete the meal. One was a simple bowl of steamed zucchini — microwave for 3 minutes, no problem. The other of those was a recipe for onion, tomato, and feta cheese turnovers from my Greek islands cookbook. Then I discovered that the turnovers require that I make dough called Cretan Phyllo first. So I did. Here are the recipes:
Some more Pacheca wine fit right in, and we enjoyed the dinner immensely. Not so much, all the dirty dishes, but Barbara did most of those to help out.