Sunday, July 21, 2013

vegging out

My blogger pals Felipe and Calypso are vegetarians.  You have probably noted that in their comments.

I am not a vegetarian.  And you have probably noted that, as well.

But I do like vegetables.  And Mexico is a great place to build a meal out of fresh produce.

I did that on Saturday afternoon.  The store had some of the best French green beans I have seen recently.  Thin.  Crisp.  With consistent coloration.  The type of green bean you would expect to accompany an extra rare lamb chop at Maxim's.

There are generally two types of cooks.  Let's call them the Stalinists and the Jeffersonians.  I am certain no one would suspect me of stacking the categories with mere labels.

The Stalinists are the recipe people.  They cook in the same manner the Soviet Union managed its five year plans.

They start with a recipe with no regard of what is in or out of season, and trudge off with a list in hand to Safeway.  No variation.  No substitutions.

The Jeffersonians start with what looks fresh at the market that day.  They then combine the best of their finds into original creations.  Sometimes, they are glorious.  Other times, they fall flat.  But they learn.

(I suspect I lifted that categorization from the late -- and great -- Nika Hazelton.  But not necessarily with those labels.)

You will not be surprised that I am in the Jeffersonian camp.  After finding the green beans, I looked around for a complementary taste.  There were some nice looking potatoes.  A perfect marriage.  And some basil.

So, I slightly boiled the green beans and potatoes.  Saut
éed Kalamata olives (I had in the refrigerator) and garlic in olive oil and tossed that with high-end Parmesan I picked up at Costco earlier in the week.  A little fresh lemon juice, a touch of salt, and a few twists on the pepper mill gave me a great main dish for dinner.

My salad was Greek -- a combination you have seen before.  With one big exception.  Because I cannot get heirloom tomatoes around here, I tried a package of grape tomatoes, instead.  They were a home run.

So, there it is.  A full vegetarian dinner in less than an hour of preparation and cooking.  Simple food that relies on its own good taste rather than an avalanche of competing herbs.  I almost feel as if I am being sucked into the hubris of vegetarianism.

But I doubt that will occur.  All through the meal, the little voice that controls my culinary desires kept asking:  "OK.  It's good.  But wouldn't it be better with ham cubes?  Or bacon?"

I doubt I will be eating for the other team anytime soon.

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