Posted in Brunch, Salads, Vegetarian

Oranges and Beets on Wild Rice – a Picturesque Salad

The most versatile among the food grains, rice is the staple food of over half the world’s population. It is the largest cultivated crop and provides more than one fifth of the calories consumed worldwide by humans.

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Rice cultivation originated in the Pearl River Valley of Chine, close to 10,000 years ago. From there, it spread to countries in South and Southeast Asia like India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Legend has it that is was the soldiers of Alexander the Great that brought this grain to Europe. And when Europeans started the colonization of the American continent, rice reached there too.

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There are many varieties of rice available today, each one suitable for particular ways of cooking. Like basmati for a pulav or arborio for a risotto. And if we start talking about the many many dishes that can be made out of rice, we will be here a long time. 🙂

Posted in Lunch, Non-vegetarian, Salads, Vegetarian

A Tabouli Salad with a Difference

Tabouli is one of the dishes that is a definite hit or miss with me. (Is that statement an oxymoron?) I know that tabouli is a parsley-intense dish. Though not a major fan of parsley, I am okay with it… up to a limit. Sometimes the parsley in the tabouli sooo overwhelms everything else that it tastes of nothing else. In such cases, yeah, that polite one spoon is all that I can deal with.

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But then, this friend of mine – she is from Turkey, where tabouli is a staple – made this amazing version, with cilantro instead of parsley. And boy, did it change everything! Never have I made a tabouli again with parsley. The main difference I feel, is in the texture. Cilantro has this delicate texture whereas parsley tends to be a bit coarse. Even when you manage to avoid even the tiniest stems and use only the leaves.

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Another standard ingredient of tabouli is bulghar wheat or cracked wheat. The variety that gets cooked with just hot water poured over it. Recently, I tried using quinoa instead of the wheat. And, found it far superior.

Posted in Non-vegetarian, Salads, Snacks, Vegetarian

Muffins to the Rescue of Bananas

Four bananas going south… cannot eat anymore as two already downed… don’t like to waste food either… what is a girl to do?
Make some banana muffins, of course! Especially when she is in need of some interesting breakfast stuff.

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And that is how it started. But then, isn’t it too tame to go ahead and make some regular run of the mill muffins? Why not add some different stuff to make it a bit more interesting? That is the path I took. And the end result? Well worth the effort… a healthier, tastier set of muffins!

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So I went around assembling the ingredients… the bananas are very sweet; so what is a fruit that is not so sweet? Dried plums! They do have a good texture too.

Posted in Brunch, Non-vegetarian, Salads, Vegetarian

Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Cherry Tomatoes

There is this funny story about how humans first started cooking their meat… how a barn got burned down along with the animals in it and the sad owner burned his finger when he poked a dead (and apparently perfectly cooked) animal… and put the finger in his mouth… and went yummm… but I have not heard a story about how we started eating shrimp. Only thing I can say is, whoever started the trend, he or she must have been a courageous soul! To look at one of those grumpy looking things with all spindly legs and stalk eyed stare and think… “umm… that must taste lovely!” would have taken a truly adventurous mind.

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Whoever it was, I’m eternally grateful to that person. For, that indeed tastes lovely! In fact, shrimp is the favourite of a majority of pescetarians.

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The name ‘shrimp’ is used to describe a wide variety of species, often synonymously with ‘prawn’, though technically prawns are the larger cousins of shrimp. These days more than half of the shrimp in the commercial market is farmed and rather than caught in the wild.

Posted in Dinner, Non-vegetarian, Salads, Vegetarian

The Day of the Grill

July 4th… if you grill one day in the year, this will be that day! It has become so much a part of the tradition. The weather, the food, the whole atmosphere calls for it. And that is exactly what we did for our dinner on July 4th.

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The menu was quite simple. To start with, the basic of basics, grilled chicken. A simple marinade of sour cream and tandoori spice. Marinated in the fridge for two hours and straight to the grill. As simple as that.

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The next item was a bit more complex. Spicy kababs! Cilantro and mint leaves, garlic and onion, and jalapenos, to add that requisite heat.

Posted in Lunch, Non-vegetarian, Salads, Vegetarian

Zucchini and Peppers Salad with Pasta

Remember those silly things that teenagers keep saying? Correction, that we all used to say as teenagers? ‘Life without you is like a night without a moon… like peanut butter without jelly…’ and so on. I got a new one… life without you is like a summer without Freon! Why this sudden focus on a chemical gas? My air conditioner is out of Freon and I’m feeling the impact of the summer heat inside the house! 🙂 It is not terribly terrible – yet – though enough to make me look for ways to minimize time in the kitchen. One solution will be to eat more salads. But the simple green salads only make me more hungry. I need salads with some heft in them… So here I was looking forward to devising some interesting salads!

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When you think about salads of substance, the first that come to mind are pasta salads. Okay, actually one thinks of potato salad first, but I have written about it very recently; so let’s go with a pasta salad. Good thing about pasta salad is that you can add a lot of stuff into it to make it interesting. And I wanted them fresh.

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So a saunter to the local farm market later, it was clear what was going into the salad. Green and orange peppers and zucchini… perfectly matches the colours of the pasta! And cherry tomatoes and onions are always in the refrigerator.