Sunday, October 3, 2010

Summer Cooking

The mighty bean has saved me one more time. Actually over and over again, since this summer I seemed to revel in cold bean salads. Other than cooking out, I am totally at a loss as what to fix in the summer for supper. Fall and Winter cooking is more to my liking. If you follow my blog at all you know that I enjoy making breads and soups and the like. This does not fit the incredible hot summer we experienced.

It started with my DH mentioning that we needed something cool for supper and mentioned he liked what we had eaten previously at an Indian Restaurant. "I can make that.", I responded and made a cold lentil salad the next night. After supper DH complimented me on the Indian lentil meal and then it dawned on me. I bet he doesn't want this every evening this summer. I have to find more recipes.

So the next day I put in my Google search engine - Summer Cold Bean Salads. So if you know how to search you can find a lot of bean salad recipes. But, I never follow a recipe. And I seldom can make the exact same dish twice. But they give me lots of ideas.

First of all I keep my ingredients to a minimum. Each week at the grocery store I usually buy the same vegetables: about 12 tomatoes, 1 cucumber, 1 green pepper, 2 shallots, 1 avocado. Then I work at dividing these up into 2 - 3 bean salads a week. I did add fruit: in black bean salad I added mango and in various others I added some crasinets. I also keep almonds, peanuts and walnuts on hand, to add that little extra.

Then I got into pasta salads. I use the "practically no carbs" pasta and used the same above vegetables. What varies then in the meals? Why don't they all taste alike? The herbs and spices I use. That is what changes the dishes, with the same ingredients with each meal.
I did make Gazpacho this summer also. But, of course, with a twist. I left all the vegetables just diced. The first time I made it with V8 juice, but it was a little too much for DH's tummy. The other times, I used regular tomato juice.

Cooking out is by far my favorite summer meals. Often this summer DH lit the coals and we enjoyed many a meal from it. This is a very simple meal for us. With DH eating meat and me being a veggie, all the meals I make are generally vegetarian with meat on the side for him, which he usually cooks on the George Foreman grill himself, since I overcook meat to death. When we cook out, meat is king, and I need to figure out what to have. Often I have a potato and onion put straight on the coals. Then I went through a phase of having processed veggie burgers on hand, followed by "trying" to make my own. Then through my Depression Cook Book I read of using eggplant for "meat". This is the absolute best "veggie burger" I have ever had at home!(The eating out version being the black bean and brown rice version at Ruby Tuesdays.) I brush the eggplant with olive oil and grill. Then I add just what you would for a regular burger. Or I switch off and just add parmesian cheese, salt and pepper.

What is great is that if I buy an eggplant, slice it and parboil, then I can freeze the egglant "burgers" and have them always ready to grill. You really need to cut them 2 - 3 inches though or they are hard to physically maintain on the grill. I also can have them all winter on the George Forman, when DH decides he wants a burger and chips.

So, from the house, where the wife woke up freaked about supper each day, supper is getting easier, even in the summer. Now that Autumn is upon us, look forward to new installations of what's cooking here!

1 comment:

Susan said...

You didn't mention how you cook the beans - if you use the pressure cooker, it slashes the cooking time (and the amount of heat in your kitchen!). Lorna Sass has a couple of terrific cookbooks that explain the concepts and give time charts for dozens of types of beans.

I'm not a huge fan of quinoa, but it makes a very nice salad with kidney beans, crunchy vegetables and a red wine vinaigrette.