Friday, January 22, 2010

Attack of the Killer Salads

Funny story: remember my last post, where I raved about the "killer" salad I got from the salad bar at work? Turns out I was actually telling a piece of the future. Obviously, it didn't really kill me, since I'm posting this, but it sure is trying.

A little back-story: I have long had a hateful relationship with the food service at work. That's a horrible thing to say, since I am fortunate to have a cafeteria in my workplace. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, though, this place is the reason cafeteria stories exist. In the time we have been in the building (about two and a half years), we have gone through two food service companies in this cafeteria. They shall remain nameless not to protect them, but rather to prevent the unintentional loss of my employment by someone coming upon my blog and finding my comments termination-worthy. I will say, however, that our present providers, though the "value brand" of the two, are actually much better than the "name brand" guys we had at first.

The food isn't great, but it's not bad, either - what little of it I've eaten. I generally avoid eating the food they prepare because I have witnessed what I perceive to be less than sanitary behavior. Little things, like taking money with your food prep gloves still on your hands or wearing your apron to the bathroom, but they don't give me a lot of confidence about the behind-the-scenes situation. However, they were behind the preparation of the food that management delivered to us daily for three weeks, and I didn't suffer any ill effects, so I became bold when I found the Salad Bar That Didn't Suck in the earlier part of this week.

What follows can only be described as a Complete Lack of Common Sense. Having become convinced that the less-than-sanitary practices of the kitchen staff were not going to kill me, I forgot about the purest nature of a salad bar. It's like a buffet - the only contact the staff has with it is refilling empty containers. Most of the human contamination comes from my colleagues - all of whom seem to have contracted some kind of deadly illness over the first month of winter. So, now I'm all snuffly and achy. No more killer salads for me - that was so stupid.

While growing progressively more sniffly and starting to admit that I might actually be sick (the last time I was sick was 14 months ago), and in between sips of Yellowtail Shiraz-Grenache (which has a gorgeous color, by the way, and probably tastes really good, but I was already starting to lose my tastebuds' acuity), I was able to construct the new menu. I have a folder full of recipes I clipped from a building collection of cooking magazines and when I do things like that, I have a tendency to forget them...kind of like I did when the magazines I had saved for the recipes were sitting in a neglected pile in the bedroom. So, this week's menu is constructed from those recipes - I'll do my best to trace the source.

1. Tofurky and Kale Minestra - actually, the recipe is for Bacon and Kale Minestra, but I was approaching the magazines with a creative mind and when I saw how delicious the picture of this soup looked, I thought that I had to find a way to make it work. I decided to substitute Hickory Smoked Tofurky because I knew better than to try tempeh bacon.

2. Braised Broccoli Rabe with Orecchiette - the cooking instructions intrigued me - aside from orzo, I've never cooked pasta in broth before, so I think this is going to be fascinating.

3. Seitan and Cabbage Stirfry with Peanut Sauce - I have made this before and I was absolutely thrilled with how it came out. The original recipe calls for beef, but I am going to use seitan. Unfortunately, I could not find the right cabbage at Whole Foods or Superfresh, so this probably won't happen until later in the week, when I'm feeling well enough to try again.

4. Pan-Crisped Tofu with Greens and Peanut Dressing - I don't know how this is going to work out, which is kind of why I chose it...I might have been feeling woozy from the combination of getting sick and drinking wine, but I was feeling adventurous.

5. Garlicky Spaghetti with Beans and Greens - I have made this before as well, but it just looks so irresistibly good in the picture. Also, I'm on a greens kick. Did you notice?

6. Aloo Channa Soup from The Garden of Vegan. I never ended up making this from last week's menu.

I need a nap. More later.

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