Have spices, will travel.
I used to do a ton of meal planning before I visited Rob’s family. My master plan was to make food that Rob’s family would adore and want to make themselves. To do that, I would try to find a recipe that was a bit more mainstream in flavours, with ingredients that were already in their kitchen.
I don’t do that anymore. As selfish as it may seem, I no longer cater my meals to others. It is my meal, so I cater it to what I want to eat. I have realized that at Rob’s family gatherings, my meal is never the main dish and people just nibble at it because they want to try it. If they like it, so be it. If not, that is ok, too. However, I know that with my different tastes, I use different ingredients. I am not just talking about eating vegetables like kale, rather that I use a wide range of spices and condiments that not everyone has.
But now I come prepared. I bring my own spices. My containers are small and portable, so it is no big deal. During my last trip to Woodstock, I decided to make a few dishes. I brought my favourite curry powder to make the Raw Thai Pineapple Rice Salad which received high praise. It was my only repeater recipe but I knew it tasted great and was easy to make. I also brought chili powder (not stale!) to make these grilled vegetable fajitas. Yes, I wanted to capitalize on using the barbecue!
A bounty of vegetables (Portobello mushrooms, zucchini and bell pepper) was marinaded in a chili-lime dressing in the morning. Lentils simmered on the stove before guests arrived for the barbecue. While I originally had elaborate plans to make a flavourful Ancho chile-spiked lentil taco meat, I erred on the side of simplicity and tossed the unadorned lentils with the roasted vegetables. The smoky vegetables with a bit of zip from the chili marinade worked really well together.
I scored the leftovers and at home, I served them in a collard wrap, topped with some fresh avocado. Sprouts are a delicious, gorgeous garnish.
Have no grill? Roasting the vegetables would likely work just as well. Pick your favourite vegetables, but try not to skip the Portobellos. They were my favourite, with a slightly meaty taste. Enjoy!
So when she made Spanish Chickpea Salad with Capers and Roasted Red Peppers for a potluck, I asked her how she liked it. “It was all gone!” But how did you like it? “It was great!”
When she made Bulgur and Cantaloupe Salad with Hazelnuts and Mint for her barbecue, I asked her how she liked it. “It was all gone!” But how did you like it? “I didn’t even get to try it, it was gone so fast!” Wowzas!
Personally, I don’t subscribe to the if-there-are-leftovers-they-didn’t-like-it camp. It all depends on how much food is available. I tend to err on the side of too much food so that no one can say they left hungry. Granted, this means I make dishes that will make great leftovers for me, and usually a large batch of the recipe, at that.
Recently, my brother and sister-in-law were over for dinner while Rob was out-of-town and trust me, I erred on the side of more food. I included this soup as an after-thought, after I had already decided to double the recipe for the main dish. They still demolished the meal, which was sad for Rob, because he wasn’t able to try any of the leftovers. Because I definitely had Rob in mind (mango lover extraordinaire) as I prepared this last-minute mango gazpacho.
Adapted from The 30-Minute Vegan, this is a wonderful chilled soup with summer salsa flavours. Gazpacho is a Spanish chilled soup typically filled with tomatoes, peppers and onions that is partially pureed to give it a chunky soup-like consistency. In this Thai-fusion version, mango is added to the traditional tomatoes and bell peppers, along with cilantro and parsley. The sweetness from the mango is countered beautifully by the zippiness from chili flakes and chile powder. It took me a bit longer than 30 minutes to chop everything for the soup, but it was a very simple soup to prepare. I found it tasted best after a long chill, almost 6 hours, which is a perfect make-ahead summer appetizer.
This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to My Kitchen, My World for Spain, to E.A.T. World for Spain, and to this month’s Simple and in Season, to Ricki’s new Summer Wellness Weekends and to this month’s No Croutons Required for raw salads/soups for Lisa’s birthday (I’d also serve this with Savoury Hemp Crackers as a side, Raw Tacos with Walnut Taco Meat, Cashew Sour Cream and Tomato Salsa as our main and Raw Tropical Mango Pie for dessert).