Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Best Ever

It was not my intention to create personal bests, but I did. One was from a recipe, so I can hardly take credit. But the other, the other was from my mind and the simple and omnipresent need to use up leftovers.
Pasta salad. I didn't put this in the title because I didn't want to put people off. You say "pasta salad" and what comes to mind? A cucumber, a tomato, some black olives and a bottle of vinaigrette poured over soggy pasta. This is not that pasta salad. I already had a pasta salad recipe that I, and others, like, so I wasn't really looking, but I wanted to use up my sun-dried tomatoes and stumbled upon a way to do that. (I really want to create a complete index of all recipes and everything they use. There are so many times when I am searching for a way to finish off a couple tablespoons of this or that and just need some guidance.)

Pasta Salad:
Sauce: 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (in oil, chopped and drained), 1 T capers (chopped and drained), 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1 garlic clove (minced), 4-6 T e.v. olive oil. Whir everything together in a food processor. Use 4 T evoo to start and check the consistency to see if you want more.
Salad: 1 lb. fusilli pasta, 12 oz. cherry/grape tomatoes, 8 oz. fresh mozzarella (ovoline), 1 cup fresh basil, 1 cup Parmesan, 1/2 cup oil-cured black olives (optional), 4-5 pepperoncini, 1-2 roasted red peppers. Cook the pasta within one minute of al dente in order to ensure that it won't get soggy. Let it cool for a couple of minutes after draining, and then throw it in with the dressing. Slice the tomatoes in half. Cut the mozz into bite-sized pieces. Chiffonade the basil and grate the Parm. Now, the rest of the ingredients are optional. I didn't have olives, so I threw in one jarred red pepper for the oiliness. I simply like pepperoncini, so I threw in a few of those, sliced, as well. Do what you like. Parsley might be nice.
Then, quite by accident, I created the best veggie burger. Earlier in the week I made fried rice and split peas that were both rejected. The rice was a surprise because it tasted good and Sam eats the fried rice I buy at Uwaj. The split peas, well, I foresaw rejection, but I thought I would give it shot. I ran into them in the back of the pantry and thought Hey I should use these. I recalled that the last burgers I made used lentils and bulgar and thought that my rejects were similar enough to work. So I dumped: (1.5 cups when dried) split peas cooked in chicken broth; 2 cups fried rice, complete with 1T soy sauce, some minced veggies, and a scrambled egg; 1/2 cup toasted cashews; 1/2 cup packed each cilantro and basil. I then took them for a spin in the processor, gradually pouring in canola oil until it held together. A few minutes on each side in a pan, and bam! best veggie burger ever.

Of course, if the parts were rejected, the whole - which was much more than the sum of said parts - would also be dismissed, right? Oh, I hoped, but was prepared to eat the burger if Sam didn't like it. He popped one of the pieces in his mouth and bit down. His jaw sort of froze as he winced and began ejecting the offensive material. He even used his fingers to wipe his tongue and flick tidbits off of his bib and jeans. Oh well. I can have them for lunch.

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