So, over the weekend (when I wasn't writing my novel about Bay Area Eats), I got to construct and shop for my full week menu. I definitely had another one of those ILoveTraderJoe's moments and each time I go there I find myself more willing to go out of my way to shop there. I'm still getting used to the layout and the much smaller size than Whole Foods, but I pay about half of what I do at Whole Foods and I'm still working out that budget thing.
On Friday, I made Aloo Gobi from The Vegan Table because Mister Loves Curry, especially with two favorite veggies.
It was quite a bit more chopping than I anticipated, but by the time I crammed all 4 potatoes, 6 tomatoes, and head of cauliflower into my miserable little saute pan (near fail!), it smelled too good to think it wasn't worth the work. I steamed some brown basmati over which to serve it and then called a very happy (and by then, very hungry) Mister to the table.
After dinner, I made up my new menu:
1. Granada Paella from The Urban Vegan, which is one of the main reasons I had to at least drop in to TJs, but the whole $25 for a bag I'd pay $50+ for at WF was also pretty alluring.
2. Bean and Bulgur Tacos, also from The Urban Vegan. I've passed this recipe a dozen times, each time wondering exactly how that would work, but being unwilling to take the chance of finding out. Carpe Diem, friends!
3. Orecchiette con Broccoli, also from The Urban Vegan. Hopefully this time I won't make myself sick. I do anticipate this will be my easiest and tastiest attempt because I bought a convenient and inexpensive bag of pre-cut broccoli florets at TJs and I plan to dissolve the miso in something that isn't rancid this time.
4. Fusilli with Lentil Sauce from Vegan Italiano. I was poking through some old posts and came across the first time I made this and thought, Hey, that was pretty good - let's have it again. So there you go.
5. Penne with Cannellini Beans and Escarole, also from Vegan Italiano. I'm still finding my way around TJs, but for all I could see, Whole Foods is still the only place to go for escarole. Not that it's a huge, irreplaceable part of my life. There may or may not be a post soon on Pretty Woman in an Ugly World about a recent customer service encounter at Whole Foods that may or may not be fueling my search for an alternate organic grocer... maybe.
Anyway, with a fridge full of food and well-stocked cupboards, I did the logical thing and made Sloppy Joes from The Urban Vegan. Nothing exciting - they were as fabulous as they always are, which unfortunately makes for seriously boring blogging, so we'll move on to last night's dinner: Fusilli with Lentil Sauce.
This makes an absolutely delicious sauce, but I'm not thrilled with how soupy it comes out. I think 2 cups of broth + 14 oz undrained diced tomatoes might make a little too much liquid, especially when you include about 4 Tbsp of liquid condiments.
I think where I go wrong with the sauce is following the directions. That whole Tyranny of the Recipe thing again... the recipe instructs me to cover the pot while the lentils bubble and boil their way to plumpy-tenderness, presumably so that the steam helps the process along, but I think they will still plump up just fine if I leave the lid off and allow the liquid to evaporate and concentrate a bit. I think Mister will appreciate that, too, since puddles at the bottom of his pasta bowl make him a little sad.
As long as you ignore the puddle beneath this pile of pasta, it's really a very attractive (and super easy and tasty) dinner. I really should make this more often. I used de Puy lentils this time around and I think I probably would have done better with regular old Goya brown lentils. The way they held their form was a little distracting - I would have liked them to blend in with the rest of the sauce a little more.
Tonight, Mister and I were both pretty starving by the time I got home from work, so ignoring the good sense that told me to save my fastest cooking meal for tomorrow night, I sped through the prep for Bean and Bulgur Tacos tonight.
In the little square of plastic, you see something you could easily mistake for very creamy guacamole. You would only be half right...it's Trader Joe's Guacamole Hummus - 50/50 blend of avocados and chickpeas with various seasonings mixed in. You can also see the little corner I dug out with a flatbread and part of a red pepper...quality assurance, you know.
It was a bit spicy, owed to the blended jalapeno and at least a little garlic, as well as some cilantro and lime. It was an unusual color. Does anyone like Fiona Apple? On her first CD, Tidal, she sings a gorgeous song called "Pale September." For some reason, the opening line (Pale September - I wore the time like a dress that year) always made me think of a pale chartreuse chiffon dress, gossamer against sunlight and a gentle breeze. If I had married in September, rather than October, I would have hunted that color down and made it my wedding color...and promptly made enemies of my bridesmaids, at least three of whom would not have been flattered by the shade, but hey - it's my wedding, right?
Fortunately for everyone, I married in October, so they wore crimson instead. My point? The Hummamole (that's what Mister and I are calling it) was that color.
I shredded a big bowl of romaine lettuce and sprinkled it over top of a generous smear of the Hummamole on each tortilla, then topped it with the bean and bulgur mix. It was light yet filling and really hit the spot with a variety of tastes and textures. I guess in that way it was very much like the dinners in this post. The heat and tanginess of Indian curry, the savory toothiness of pasta with a rich Italian sauce, and a new take on a familiar Mexican taco recipe, replacing the brown rice with coarse bulgur.