School is also the time when I make and eat a lot of salads. It's easy, it's healthy, it's good. The one above was inspired by a recent trip to Pizzaiolo, when we were sent (on the house no less) a delicious prosciutto and melon salad. The Greek and I wanted to recreate the recipe at home, but couldn't figure out (or remember) what the dressing had been like. So, we threw some honeydew on top of mixed greens, added prosciutto and went with a basic crowd pleaser: olive oil and basil flakes. Do you really need anything more when you've already got the juices of the melon to work with? This really satisfied my love of all things salty-sweet.
I also then stepped things up a notch when I decided to make not just salad, but panzanella. This recipe was from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day, a book that has saved me many nights (and mornings) in the kitchen. While salad is supposed to be easy, this one was fairly involved: you had to grill both the bread and tofu with olive oil until crispy and golden; you had to roast cherry tomatoes until they, like the stuffed peppers and tomatoes above, had caramelized; finally, you had to whip up a scrumptious dressing of peanut butter, minced garlic, toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, red pepper flakes and hot water (for thinning the dressing out). I loved everything about this salad--the flavors may seem strange, but they really go quite well together--but the dressing was definitely my favorite thing.
And then there was this gem: trifongo. If you (like me before this evening) have no idea what trifongo is, it's sweet plantains and yucca that are mashed with garlic, olive oil, pork rinds and broth (mofongo is the same, but with fried green plantains instead). I can't even tell you how much I enjoyed this; it was all-around remarkable. The chef, a dear friend in Engineering, made everything and, as you can see, he took pains to create something that was beautiful. The trifongo was accompanied by skirt steak in a guava sauce and by a not so Puerto Rican asparagus salad. As S's lovely sous chef and hostess explained, Puerto Rico isn't so big on vegetables, so she had to get creative to give us a well-balanced meal.
Even though work is upon me (my current task is to create a list of primary sources for my dissertation since my adviser is wondering if I have enough material!! I shall remain calm, compile the list and trust in my belief that this will turn out just fine) and things are rapidly becoming busy, busy and busier, there are things to look forward to. One of them is cooking from the gem below, sent to me from my friend and fellow blogger; first up, maybe delicious chocolate chip cookies? After all, my freezer cookie supply is running low and something tells me this might just be a long semester.