...until very recently. I guess I just perceived salad as a mish-mash of iceberg lettuce thrown together with tomatoes, cucumbers, and julienned carrots. You know, a diner salad. Fortunately, with the help of a couple of my dear cookbooks, I've discovered some amazing salad recipes. I have come to the conclusion that salad dressing is for the weak, or at least for those who don't know how to make a salad.
So dinner tonight was absolutely divine. I kept pausing throughout the meal to just sit for a moment and truly appreciate how wonderful everything was. It probably goes without saying that I made the Spinach, Artichoke, and Chickpea Salad for the main course tonight. The salad was every bit as substantial as the author claims - in fact, I was only able to eat one bowl (normally I can have two). Granted, I was dividing my attention between the salad and the delightful little Tuscan-esque plate I had set out between Mister and I, arranged with juicy green grapes, the sharp Pecorino di Pienza (sheep's milk cheese from Tuscany), and the boldly-flavored Rosemary Olive Oil Focaccia from DiBruno Brothers (courtesy of my dear father-in-law).
The salad was also very good - despite being a vegetarian who eats vegetables for the past 7 years it seems like every time I get a new cookbook I find that there are still vegetables I haven't eaten that most people consider standard fare. Tonight's ground-breaking vegetable was, believe it or not, red cabbage. I do not think I have ever had it before, but I now know that I love it! This is a good thing, because while I was "thinly slicing" a few leaves of the cabbage I was trying to figure out what to do with the rest of it. I do some of my best thinking while washing the dishes or chopping vegetables, so here is the trail my mind followed:
I've read articles in magazines, side dishes in cookbooks, and even in blogs, about people using cabbage leaves in place of traditional sandwich wraps.
I have a small tupperware container of leftover chutney bulghur.
I'm going to have leftover chickpeas and roasted yellow peppers.
End result: Lunch on Monday will probably be chutney bulghur with some chickpeas and a couple of slices of roasted yellow peppers, maybe some sliced carrots, wrapped up in a red cabbage leaf or two. I figure, what's the worst thing that could happen? I could waste a roasted pepper.
I'm also considering marinating the cabbage with some rice wine vinegar, honey, and crushed red pepper and taking it to work as a side salad for another night's leftovers.
I am planning another antipasto platter for the pizza dinner...it will probably be the remaining roasted yellow peppers, more green grapes, kalamata olives, what's left of the focaccia, and a third of the remaining cheese. I realize I'm burying the point of vegan cooking by using cheese in the antipasto, but it's really nice (and expensive) cheese and it was a gift of love from my father-in-law, who I love and respect very much, so I don't want to waste it and we've already had it for a week. Plus, I'm kind of obsessed with Tuscany right now. I think I need a passport.