It's hot here. Hotter than in Florida (not by much, but still). There's going to be a little break in the heat next week, but for now it's 90s as far as the eye can see. I really didn't want to make Bruce fire up the grill -- it seemed like a weekend for salads more than anything else.
So I picked out three different salads -- very different. With my trusty helper in the kitchen we made one salad, ate it, and then made the other two.
The first one (from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Appetite for Reduction) just had two ingredients and the dressing. Romaine lettuce and "eggplant bacon." To make the bacon you take a small eggplant (no bigger than four inches wide at its widest point), slice it in half, and then slice those halves into 1/8-inch half moons. Don't worry about making them too uniform. Put the slices on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and spray them lightly with Pam. Bake them at 425 for about 8 minutes. I did not bake them long enough, so I want to make it again and do a few things differently. Anyway, they should come out starting to turn brown in spots and some of the thinner slices may even have some burned spots. If they do, just take them off the cookie sheet. The other slices you should just flip over and bake for about 3 more minutes. I cooked mine a lot longer and I still don't think I did it long enough. The slices are supposed to be really browning by this point and mine weren't. You're supposed to put 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon of Liquid Smoke in a bowl and dip the slices in when they're cool enough to handle, but I just put all of it into a plastic bag, put the slices in, mooshed everything around, and there you go. You lower the temperature of the oven to 350 and bake them for a few more minutes. You should use them within a few hours, according to the recipe. Next time I will add a teaspoon of brown sugar to the bag to get a sweeter bacon-y flavor. And I'll cook them long enough.
The dressing was very unusual and good. Bruce loved it; I don't like raw onion and it was a little strong for me, but it was still good. She calls it "Caesar Chavez Dressing" and it was not dissimilar to a real Caesar dressing. I made it in my Vitamix; she says to process it for five minutes in a food processor. I just threw everything in and whipped it right up: 2 tablespoons of roughly chopped shallot, 2 tablespoons of cashews, 1 tablespoon tahini, 1 tablespoon miso (any color -- we used white), 1/3 cup water, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon capers with brine, 1/8 teaspoon salt, black pepper.
Between us we ate an entire bag of romaine lettuce and half an eggplant, just on this salad. I was quite stuffed for a long time.
But -- I had the ingredients and the desire to make two more salads, so we went back into the kitchen. About seven weeks ago Bruce emailed me a recipe, which he never does. Since I always want help with picking out recipes, you'd think I would've jumped right on that, wouldn't you? I did not -- but today was the day. The vegetables included half a head of grated cabbage, two grated carrots, a bunch of chopped cilantro, a red bell pepper, and 4-5 green onions. The dressing ingredients were 3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 3 tablespoons peanut butter, 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, a tablespoon of grated ginger, and 2-3 minced cloves of garlic. It's a gorgeous salad -- really one of the prettiest things I've made. I would add another tablespoon of peanut butter and about half a cup of chopped salted peanuts to the salad itself. And -- needless to say, I cut out all the oil in the original recipe except for the teaspoon of sesame oil (which I cut back from a tablespoon). We did not miss any of that.
Finally, I wanted to have a substantial salad with lots of protein, so I made a black-eyed pea salad. This one I can just link you to: Black-Eyed Pea Salad. I made it exactly as the recipe calls for except I just left out the canola oil and didn't miss it one little bit.
Needless to say, I'm stuffed. And I feel really healthy! There's no more Caesar salad, but there's plenty of the second two for leftovers tomorrow and I'll make some kind of bread to go with them (I wanted to do that today, but I ran out of energy).
Tomorrow Bruce is embarking on a 200k bike ride. For most of us, that's 124.7 miles. I think he's planning to ride for about ten hours. Sounds like torture to me. I'm mildly concerned because he'll be by himself, but he'll have his phone and I'm going to make him check in with me every hour or so.
Alex and Alisha are in Florida and I'm craving updates. I've been very good and have not called, but I keep checking Facebook to see if she's posted pictures (so far, not really). They spent today with my Mom and Alex texted me a picture of Kael with chocolate all over his face (from a cupcake). That's always a winner.
I'm exhausted, but yesterday was my day to do my leg exercises and I didn't do it so I REALLY MUST do them today. No time like the present.