|Grains, vegetables and beans, with a Mediterranean flavor - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
Worthy of a Meatless Monday, I threw this quinoa/barley salad together that I was calling a Medite-grainian Salad. Which is a terrible pun of a name, I know, but this is what happens when you work from home and are left to your brain's own terrible devices. It came about as a craving for food from one of my favorite garlic-heavy/anti-vampire restaurants, Mediterranean Kitchen. Their house garlic sauce is legalized crack. You smell like garlic for a couple of days after eating their food, which makes you unpopular with dates, but pets love you. As best as I can tell, their sauce is a mixture of a ton of fresh lemon juice, garlic aplenty, cracked pepper, some dried oregano and possibly other dried spices, all blended together with olive or vegetable oil. So simple, but so delicious -- on everything. I've made at-home versions, but they of course never taste exactly the same so I keep going back to Mediterranean Kitchen whenever I can for the next hit of The Good Stuff.
My latest version of Homemade Garlic Crack Sauce looked more like a spring pea puree, mostly because the herb garden has been fully revived, including our lemon balm plant that makes yearly plans to take over the known universe. I'm always cutting handfuls of leaves off that plant and chopping them up to use like parsley with dishes. The lemon balm leaves are delicate and it gives everything a citrus-fresh flavor, which pretty much goes well with everything, even desserts -- cocktails, too. I used a bunch of lemon balm in my garlic sauce, so I think that's what ended up giving it that final green color as well as a pleasant herbal flavor.
If you want to reek of garlic goodness, this is typically how I make the sauce: juice and zest of 3 large lemons, a whole head of peeled garlic cloves (yes, the whole thing), 1 tablespoon of dried oregano or half a tablespoon of chopped fresh, about a cup's worth of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. The trick is to emulsify the sauce in a blender, versus just whipping everything together with a whisk. Put all the dry ingredients in with a pinch of salt and pepper, and half the oil, just to get things started. As it blends, drizzle in the rest of the olive oil so that the whole thing comes together into a nice opaque, creamy sauce. May have to add more oil -- sometimes I add some plain vegetable oil, as it helps keep the olive oil from hardening when you refrigerate the sauce. Taste as it blends to see if you need to add more salt or pepper. The lemon juice has a nice sharp flavor, so you can get away with not adding much salt.
|Green garlic dressing to keep this salad vampire-free - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
|Rice cooker magic and pan-toasted chickpeas - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
Taking the cooked grains and tossing it with the chickpeas, vegetables and enough of the dressing to flavor to your taste, and the salad is done. The dressing itself is pretty flexible -- fresh lemon juice with some olive oil, salt, pepper and some vinegar would do fine, it's just to enhance the flavor of the ingredients, not overpower it. I had leftovers of the salad for several days and even added some roasted chicken later in the week, but it's perfectly fine meatless.
It's a perfect dish to ease one into warm weather summertime cooking, a reminder to keep it simple and just take it all in stride. It's summer, yo!
|Summertime whatevah-style cooking - Photo by Wasabi Prime|