Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mexisraelican cuisine...figure that out

One of the things I admire about Isa's recipe creation and matching is the joy she finds in fusion.  Not trendy fusion, like French-Chinese or Nouveau Mediterranean or whatever it is Horizons does - no, Isa likes to mix things that don't belong.

I do, too, but I'm not quite as skilled at it.  For some reason, it always works with Isa's pairings.  Not so much with mine.  I know I have at least one poor pairing in the past, but tonight's was truly bizarre: Mexican and Israeli.  Perhaps we don't even need the label "Mexican," but even if we took a close look at Latino cuisine, I don't think we'd find many points of similarity with Israeli/Middle Eastern cuisine (aside from Mister's love of each).

For dinner, I made Salsa Rice and Red Beans from Vegan on the Cheap.  It was pretty simple to make, since most of the time was just letting the brown rice simmer away until it was cooked (only about 45 minutes, this time).  I cooked the rice completely separately from everything else, but it all came together in the end for a strangely sweet rice-n-beans.  I'm not sure if it was the fresh poblano or the fresh tomato, or even the canned tomato, but there was something undeniably sweet going on.

While the rice was simmering away, I had about...oh...45 minutes of free time, so I filled it with much chopping.  On my way home from work, I decided to take advantage of the not-arctic weather to stop into Superfresh for kitty litter and my usual fruitless glance where the fresh spinach should be but isn't.  One big difference today, though - there was spinach there!  I picked up a bag for tomorrow night's curry (finally), then remembered how I wanted to get a few extra veggies yesterday but didn't want to go out in the cold, so I grabbed my memory grocery list and a basket, and still remembered the kitty litter.

The fruits of my chopping was the Mega-Israeli Salad from the forthcoming UV2.

Texturally, it had many layers - crispity-crunchety peppers, more refined toothsomeness from tomatoes and cucumber, with a creamy smooth bite of avocado.  The dressing was delightfully simple and pulled everything together in the most mouth-watering way.  I didn't even get a chance to ask Mister what he thought, because before he finished chewing his first mouthful, he was exclaiming how good the salad was.

There's a tartness from the lemon that is only slightly overwhelmed by the zing of raw garlic, which only dominates the dish as much as you let it - you could also allow it to draw out the crunchiness of the raw veggies with even more intensity due to their enhanced flavor.

The salad was amazing and will absolutely find its way onto my table again (and hopefully, the tables of family and friends who ask me to bring food to gatherings).  As far as pairing it goes, I guess we'll have to play around with different main courses - it completely overpowered the Salsa Rice and Red Beans, with their subtle, sweet flavor and creamy texture.

 Mister did exactly what I expected him to do when he saw the mountain of rice and beans and tomatoes - he went to the cupboard and pulled out the tortilla chips left over from our last chili adventure.  To my amusement, he alternated between scooping up rice-n-beans and treating his salad like really garlicky salsa.  Either way, dinner got an enthusiastic thumbs-up from Mister.

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