Sunday, July 19, 2015

New Ideas for Side Dishes

I have two "salads" to talk about today. One is Guacamole: everyone already knows guacamole. And the other is a new mixture. I saw somewhere online a picture of white beans and artichokes, and thought, "Ooh! I have those in my pantry!

For the Guacamole, I have always made mine simply, as I learned in Guatemala. Smash the avocado a bit, sprinkle with some salt and lime juice. Taste. Adjust those two seasonings. And voila! Sometimes I take the time to chop scallions to go in it, and somethimes I have added Gorgonzola crumbles, somewhat a la Nigela Lawson's "Roquamole". Love that addition, BTW! It is stellar.
Guacamole with Fermented Hot Pepper Relish

This time though, as I have been making fermented foods, about 13 days ago I had started fermenting a Hot Pepper Salsa. In The Art of Fermentation, Sandor Katz advises that although the fermentation process at room temperature should not be exceedingly long, the salsa should be kept in the fridge for 3 or even 6 months before using, as the flavors will continue to develop, getting better and better with time. Provided, of course, that one can keep themselves out of the jars, because it smells heavenly! When I made the pepper salsa, I used a large variety of peppers, some hot, some not. The amount came out to be just a bit more than I was comfortable putting in the one large jar I had available, so I put a little bit of it into two little jars. One of these I gave a friend as a gift, and the other I kept, to be my sampler and taste tester.

Fermented Hot Pepper Salsa
Let me say, this sampler is not going to last. I am finding it difficult to stay out of it, now that I tasted the results! It is hot, but just a nice amount of hot. No mouth-searing, but just a gentle burn. Yesterday morning I had an omelet and spooned out some of the salsa on top of the omelet. Bliss! Heaven. O-M-G, good! And after tasting it, I thought it would be good mixed into guacamole. 

I know most of the world seems to have taken to mixing chopped tomatoes into guacamole, but I just do not like that combo. I love guacamole. I love tomatoes. Just not stirred together. This Fermented Hot Pepper Salsa, on the other hand, sounded good. The result last night makes me think I don't know how I am going to ever again eat guacamole without this addition! If you try my Fermented Hot Pepper Salsa, I guarantee you will want more! The little jar is almost empty after two meals! This is so good I could just eat it spooned straight out of the jar. Yes, it was a royal pain to hand chop all those peppers. No, I did not have to hand chop, but wanted that even-sized texture. Maybe I will have to try using the food processor next time. And oh yes, there will be a next time!
Fermented Pepper Guacamole & White Bean & Artichoke Salads

The other dish I made last evening was the White Bean and Artichoke side dish or Salad. I am not sure which to call it by. Being a cold dish suggests it more likely to be termed a "salad", though there is nothing much of fresh veggies in it. I did use celery for a little crunch, but without overwhelming the flavors of the beans and artichokes. The result was really wonderful. It ended up that these two dishes were my dinner last evening. I made a quick "slap a piece of cheese between two corn tortillas and heat it" type quesadilla to go with the meal and I was one happy gal!

White Bean and Artichoke Salad 

White Bean & Artichoke Salad
Serves 4 - 6

1 (15.8-ounce) can white beans, drained, well-rinsed
1 (14.5-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh basil,sliced in chiffonade

2 tablespoons lime juice, fresh squeezed
3 tablespoons olive oil
a few grinds of pepper
1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard

Slice the drained artichoke pieces into reasonable sized pieces. Combine them with the beans, celery and basil in a bowl. 

Separately, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients (or alternatively combine the ingredients in a small jar with tight fitting lid and shake) until emulsified and pour over the bean mixture and toss well. Allow the mixture to set for a few minutes to meld flavors and serve. 

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.