June 9, 2008

Meal one: A lesson in pantry items and substitutions

I have a feeling there's going to be a lot of that going on--substituting, that is.
Meal one. After some intense deliberation (I'm hoping it gets easier to decide exactly what to cook), I decide to pull the zucchini and the small head of lettuce. On the short-shelf-life list of staples, we have one small red onion left from Ryan's grandmother's garden; some organic strawberries; a bit of Gruyere that needed to be used; a bulb of fresh garlic from my mom's garden. From the pantry, I pull pine nuts, Israeli couscous, and the basics for a very simple strawberry vinaigrette (EVOO, RW vinegar, dollop of jam, s&p).

I come up with a salad plan that I think will work: romaine topped with strawberries, onion, cheese, and caramelized pine nuts (see--that's a sub for much more delicious caramelized almonds!). The sweet berries, tangy cheese, and bitter onions work really well together. Check out my new Santoku knife--German steel, but I got the greatest deal. $20!
The salad was the bulk of dinner, but I also sauteed the zucchini and garlic to toss with the couscous. A very simple, starchy side that worked well with the salad. It lacked a little zest, though; if I make that again, I will use whole-wheat couscous, and maybe garnish with parsley and lemon.

The end result was a beautiful multicolor plateful of fresh summery goodness. Everything was delicious! Our first meal passed muster and we're looking forward to the next incarnation. I convinced Ryan to enjoy the meal out on the back porch, complete with red wine (not local, but the box it comes in is fully recyclable!). Fin joined us, and appropriately begged for food. I'd say our very first meal was a great success and left both of us feeling fulfilled and inspired. This will give us fodder for the next meal. Stay tuned--meal two, I'm going to venture into the world of squash blossoms.