Cooking. It is such a wonderful thing. The fact that a person can combine a few ingredients and create a whole new dish is amazing. Usually, when I think of cooking a stove or oven come to mind. In the summer (or year round if you are my dad) this extends to the grill. I compensate by owning a George Foreman. (Don't knock it till you try one!) For some reason I just can't call it cooking if there is not some sort of heat source. Silly, I know, but there you have it. I can prepare a meal/food without heat, but it is not cooking.
This afternoon I prepared a meal for lunch. It is hot here in Chicago. There was absolutely no way I was going to turn on my stove or (worse yet) oven. Heck no. What to do? Well, I would have just noshed on rice cakes, cheese and apples, and Gatorade. Appetizing, I know. For some reason, though, I was inspired to hit the veggie market on my way home for the Capoeira workshop I attended this morning. (Good lord, my legs hurt!) At the market I bought so much lovely produce: cherries, strawberries, bananas, plums, red bell peppers, endive, eggplant, vadallia onions, basil, chives...the list goes on. In the fridge section they had a small selection of prepared salads. Almost all of them were off limits (couscous and tabbouleh). There was a tasty looking chickpea salad nestled amongst the verboten items. Hmmmm...interesting. Sadly, the salad was from the same company as the others and I did not want to take the chance. What to do? Make my own!!! OK, so I don't have any chickpeas, but I do have white beans. A little modification and this is what I made:
1 can white beans
1 can quartered artichoke hearts
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/4-1/3 vidallia onion, diced (these suckers are BIG!)
2 T chopped fresh basil
olive oil (I like one with a strong flavor)
red wine vinegar
fresh cracked pepper
Combine the first five ingredients in a bowl. Toss together gently. Drizzle the salad with olive and vinegar, lightly season with salt and pepper. Mix. Taste. Add additional oil/vinegar/salt/pepper to taste. (I like to add a generous portion of pepper.)
It is the ultimate in summer "cooking", that non-cooking in which no heating element is involved. Yet the end result...a healthy, flavorful meal that will definitely go in the repeat file.