The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization this week issued a report claiming that insects are the key to solving future food shortages and environmental concerns. I can appreciate their argument – but no thanks. Being the squeamish sort, just reading the report was difficult.
While not that adventurous, I do like to try new recipes every once in a while. It’s a good idea to add a few new dishes here and there, if for no other reason than to keep dinner from getting boring. If you find yourself making the same dishes every week, put the chicken in the freezer and hide that box of mac-and-cheese! Instead of the usual, make something new for dinner tonight. These recipes are fast, easy, and just a little (but not too far) out of the ordinary:
Green Tea and Smoked Salmon Pasta – I found this recipe at Taste for Adventure, and it is a light, easy dish that you eat cold -- perfect for hot summer evenings. Add tea bags (about 30) to about 20 cups of boiling water. Remove the tea bags and add the pasta (cook as usual, but save some of the liquid after straining). In a separate bowl, mix the juice of two lemons, about a tablespoon of grated ginger, and add a dash of salt and pepper. Slowly pour in about a half a cup of olive oil while whisking. Mix the pasta, a ladle of the saved tea, and the lemon juice mixture together in a large bowl. Add poppy seeds and smoked salmon, and serve cold.
Nasturtium Salad – Take four cups of nasturtium blossoms, half a cup of violet leaves, a clove of garlic, 2 tablespoons chopped chervil leaves, a dash of salt and pepper, two tablespoons of lemon juice, and three tablespoons of olive oil (be sure to wash the flowers and leaves in cold water and remove the stems from the blossoms) and toss them gently together for a unique and colorful salad.
Ma Po Tofu (from the Cooking Channel) – Heat some vegetable oil in a wok over high heat. Stir-fry a teaspoon of minced ginger, spicy bean paste, chili powder, a teaspoon of minced garlic, and a teaspoon of sweet flour paste for about one minute. Add about a cup of water, and then add diced tofu (one-inch cubes) and a quarter cup of leeks. Cook until the liquid begins to reduce. Add a little potato starch, if needed, to thicken (breaking any clumps that form). Serve immediately.
Eggplant Dip – Traditionally, the eggplant would be cooked over a wood-burning fire – or at least on the grill. But you don't have to leave your apartment to make this, and the end result is close enough. Cook the eggplant whole – just puncture it with a fork and put it under the broiler for 10-15 minutes. The eggplant is done when it turns black and is very soft. Let it cool on a rack set on some paper towels. Once it cools, peel it by hand (discard the skin) and put the eggplant in a bowl. Cut it up into small pieces and mash it with a fork. Stir in about a half-cup of olive oil and four teaspoons of wine vinegar, alternating between the two to get them well-blended. Stir in three cloves of minced garlic and a dash of sea salt and ground pepper. Serve it cold with slices of pita bread, feta cheese, and anchovies on the side.
Moroccan-Style Cornish Game Hens (from Epicurious.com) – In your coffee (or spice) grinder combine a tablespoon each of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and whole cloves. Add two teaspoons each of cardamom seeds and fennel seeds. Break half a cinnamon stick into pieces and add that. Finally, toss in a bay leaf and grind everything together. Put the spices in a bowl and mix in a quarter cup of orange juice, two tablespoons of olive oil, and two cloves of minced garlic. Rub the spice mixture over four Cornish game hens and put them in a roasting pan. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together, then arrange peeled, cut carrots around the hens and sprinkle those with salt and pepper. Roast in a preheated 400-degree oven for 30 minutes, and then add half a cup of chicken broth to the pan. Cook another 35 minutes or so, until juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced and the carrots are tender.
Try something different for dinner tonight – you could end up with a new favorite go-to recipe. Prefer to dine out? There are unusual restaurants across the country – give one near you a try.