Monday, March 2, 2009

Thoughts from a Gloomy Monday

Today was a particularly gloomy Monday in Los Angeles, the kind of day that is pregnant with rain, but only manages to push out a light drizzle. And in the midst of it all, in between a hard run and a business chat, my mind couldn't help but wander to a few things I just can't stand:

1. Getting sand on my new pedicure
2. Lint on my favorite black sweater
3. Flat hair
4. Lettuce

Yes, I said it. I know all of the hooha about lettuce and folate and how it is ever so good for you. I've even tried buying different kinds of leaves in order to trick my brain (and my palate), but no luck -- I am still left with a bag of crickled lettuce when I look in the crisper. To be honest, I try to reach around the lettuce to find something more interesting in the fridge.

So, I decided to rebel and create a lettuce-less salad today -- in part to experiment, and in part to use up all the produce in my refridgerator.

Chopping perfectly plump tomatoes and crisp asparagus made even better because it was on sale, I juggled chopping, roasting garlic bulbs and talking to a dear woman about a mutual friend. Trust me, there was no gossiping going on -- it was one of those conversations when two women are trying to help someone who needs to make some tough decisions. Being a woman who always sees the world in people, it is hard for me to watch others make the same poor decisions over and over again. And if I love them enough, it breaks my heart.

But the Lady Wisdom on my speakerphone sang words of sense over the noise in my kitchen, leaving me with tons to think and pray about as I squeezed roasted garlic over a concoction of tomatoes, asparagus, cucumbers and bell peppers. The end result was a fun tease to my palate: warm and garlicky (is that a word?) asparagus, crisp tomatoes that yielded a gentle burst when my teeth met and garlic that gave the vegetables the zing that they needed.

I kissed lettuce goodbye today.

Pairing the salad with baked salmon and an occasional nibble from the chocolate raspberry mousse slowly languishing in my house, it was perfect, with no disasters to report. The gloom remained, both over the sky and over my spirits, but dinner was delicious.

Asparagus Salad
with Roasted Garlic Vinagarette Dressing

2 tomatoes on the vine, chopped into fourths
1/2 pound of asparagus, chopped
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
1/4 green bell pepper, sliced in strips
Garlic salt
Kosher salt

For the dressing:
2 full bulbs of fresh garlic
2 tbsps. of red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. of olive oil

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cut the heads off the garlic, exposing the cloves. Drizzle both with olive oil and wrap tightly in two separate squares of foil. Place on a baking pan and bake for roughly 30 minutes.

In the meantime, heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a saucepan. Toss asparagus in and sprinkle with a pinch or two of garlic salt and kosher salt. Saute asparagus until tender but not mushy. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and sauteed asparagus. Be sure to allow the flavored olive oil from the asparagus to drip into the bowl as well. Drizzle the entire mixture with red wine vinegar.

Once the garlic is roasted and is a soft texture, squeeze the softened garlic into the bowl with the rest of the vegetables. Sprinkle with pepper, and toss everything to coat.

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