As I’ve written before, traditional salads don’t interest me much. On the other hand, there are occasions and ways in which I take full advantage of how versatile and easy to prepare salads can be. Here are three examples this month.
One day at lunch I prepared a version of my Spicy Guacamole, inspired by a visit three years ago to abc cocina in NYC. This month’s lunch used a whole avocado, diced jalapeño pepper, diced raw red onion and garlic, lime and lemon juice, and diced fresh San Marzano plum tomatoes. Generous quantities of Maldon salt and freshly-ground black pepper added to the zestiness of the dish, served on my pan-fried sourdough.
Chickpeas and Vegetable Salad with Feta
Another simple meal was created when I needed to use extra chickpeas I had cooked earlier in the week. I simply diced cucumber, plum tomato, celery, black olives, jicama, and red onion. Then I added cubes of Feta cheese, several glugs of Greek olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and grabbed a fork to eat it all right from the bowl. The wine choice was a delightful organic Mourvedre, Grenache, Carignan blend from Southwestern France, je cherche le ciel (“I search for the sun”).
Springtime, and Black-Eyed Peas (or Beans)
Somehow, I have recently associated black-eyed peas with the advent of Spring. That image is mostly from what I read online, since I have no links to the southern US, where these are popular. In any event I recently opened a box of Indian cooking ingredients I had saved, and among the goodies was a bag of Peruvian black-eyed peas (or beans, whichever your prefer). They were small and had been in the box for years, but they looked good, so I cooked them and tried them out in a recipe that appealed to me, Wild Rice & Black-eyed Pea Pilaf, alongside grilled Japanese eggplant with an Asian soy-sesame oil sauce. The results were terrific, and I catalogued this loosely as a “salad”.
The wine was a spectacularly good choice for the dish, a Birichino Cinsault, a floral, medium-bodied French grape from a California producer.