29 April 2011

Cold dinner

Last night, it was warm, and late. By the time I got home, it was 8:30, and I was exhausted from work. And the kitchen was messy, as was the bathroom. Ugh. I attacked everything, and got it all sorted by about 9:15. I was still hungry, but didn't really feel like cooking per se.

While I was in Chicago with Steve's family for Easter, his sister's wife Debbie made this fantastic salsa that everyone absolutely loved to bits. I especially liked it, so I commandeered the leftovers and ate it. "Ate it with tortilla chips", you may ask. I ate it with a spoon.

And I don't even like bell peppers. In fact, I absolutely hate bell peppers. Correction: I absolutely hatED bell peppers until I started my campaign of not being so stupidly finicky about everything. My eldest brother made this eggplant dish, for which I completely forgot to ask for the recipe for whatever reason, which was quite lovely over rice. Essentially, it was very heavily salted eggplant, fried in spices and such, so that it almost became like an Indian pickle. It was so good, but it was also an isolated incident. I'm not sure that I can clear my textural issues around eggplant quite yet, but hope springs eternal.

The bell peppers in Debbie's salsa, however, have a subtle sweetness that was accentuated by the corn. I didn't feel like I was eating bell peppers at all, and I happily chomped away at them. I don't know that I'll start seeking them out, but I think I've made my peace with the multi coloured peppers. Green bells are a different story for another day. Maybe if anyone is interested, I'll share my recipe for cumin bell peppers which work excellently as a side veg for those who enjoy green bell peppers.

Anyway. I digress. When I got home, I made sure to bug Debbie via the Internet to remind me of what all she put into that salsa. Here's what she said:

Need 1 can sweet corn, 1 can black beans (rinsed and drained) 1 purple onion, any or all colors of peppers (green, red, yellow), jalepeno pepper (good part is you can make it as hot as you want and leave the seeds in), 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup lime juice, 1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp cayenne. whisk liquid together with spices and pour over veggies; put in the fridge for a couple hours and serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!

Easy enough! What you'll notice immediately is that the riot of colour makes it extremely appetising. A couple of things to note. For one thing, don't think that you have to make this in enormous quantities. If you do, you'll end up with an enormous grocery bill. Make just about what you and your family can eat in one sitting, and you'll be fine. Yellow peppers, red peppers, and orange peppers can get freakishly expensive. If you buy just one, it shouldn't amount to very much money. I don't think that this will work with green bell peppers, because they're way too bitter, and would be jarring in comparison to the other, nicer flavours.

Another thing to note is that this is an excellent place to get other vegetables and herbs that you like. I threw in one tomato, a cucumber, and an avocado, as well as a bunch of cilantro, because I like those things. I didn't use lime juice (having forgotten to buy lemon), but I hit it with some citric acid, and it did the job. Also, I didn't have olive oil, so I used a couple tablespoons of canola oil. Yes, I left the seeds in the one jalapeƱo chile I used.

I was exhausted, so it took me the entire 9 minutes that my pasta was boiling to finish chopping up all the veggies. However, since I wasn't exactly doing anything else while the pasta was boiling, it's not like I had to spend extra time in the kitchen. When the pasta was done, I drained it, and rinsed it under cold water. This was both to cool it down very quickly, and to prevent it from cooking much more. One of the most awful things about pasta salad is when the pasta is overcooked.

For my one pound of pasta, I had an enormous quantity of fresh, raw vegetables, making the dinner quite healthy and tasty. Because I didn't shake off too terribly much of the liquid from the draining pasta, the liquid combined with the seasonings and oil in the vegetables, and was quite refreshing on that warm night. The total put together time was about fifteen minutes, making it a meal I will most likely make again. I'll just need to find tinned black beans and tinned corn on sale somewhere, and keep a few in my pantry, so that I can avoid the extra steps of making those things fresh. The charm of Debbie's Salsa is that it's incredibly quick.