Monday, September 2, 2013

MoFo Day 2: Labor Day Fiesta

I know Labor Day is typically celebrated with BBQ, but I think salsa and margaritas make a much more fitting final meal of the summer season. I used Vegetarian Times Fast and Easy today for the first time since I bought it a year ago. When it first arrived I flagged a bunch of recipes, but haven’t bothered to open it since. To make up for lost time, I picked four recipes: Watermelon Margaritas, Tomato-Avocado Salsamole, Clementine Salsa, and Black Bean Soup with Roasted Red Pepper (links are to the Veg Times website). Fortunately my sister was on hand to help me consume it all.

Salsas and margaritas:

I love my Vitamix and I know it can make me delicious, nutritious juices and shakes and soups in mere seconds. It even came with a recipe book full of these things. Want to know the one recipe I use? Frozen margaritas. And I’ve made them enough times that I don’t even NEED the recipe. But they’re healthy, right? Anyway, I saw the recipe for Watermelon Margaritas and had to try them. It was just frozen watermelon, tequila, Triple Sec (I used Cointreau), a little sugar, lime juice, and ice. Tomato-Avocado Salsamole is exactly what it sounds like – salsa mixed with guacamole. I couldn’t find clementines for the Clementine Salsa so I used a navel orange.

With a minimal amount of blending and chopping, I had this table of deliciousness:

The margaritas were good, but next time I’ll add twice as much watermelon and a touch more sugar. The orange salsa was also really good. The last step of the recpie was to let it sit overnight. Oops, guess that’s why you’re supposed to read the whole thing first. I’m going to trust that it would have been great tomorrow, especially if I’d used clementines. Now the salsamole – OMG AMAZING. I’ve never had anything with avocado that I didn’t like, but this was outstanding. If I had been alone, I would have licked the bowl.

On to the soup:

Like the Vitamix, I know I also underutilize my pressure cooker. It’s hard to come by recipes that use it AND sound good, so I had to try this one. You sauté some onion, then add unsoaked (!) beans, water and spices and cook for 25 minutes. Cooking time with pressure cookers is misleading because it doesn’t include the time to reach full pressure (>5 minutes) or the time to release the pressure (>15 minutes). But 40 minutes from the time I open a bag of beans to when I can eat them is still pretty awesome.

While the soup is cooking, you roast the red pepper. I read the recipe wrong and put them skin side down on the baking sheet. (Note that I had finished two margaritas and moved on to beer at this point. Hey, it’s a holiday!) After the 15 minute cooking time, I realized my mistake. I flipped them over and put them closer to the broiler and OMG the coolest thing happened! Almost immediately the skin puffed up—like a giant blister from one side to the other. This obviously made it super easy to get the skin off once they were cool. I was worried they’d be dry, but they were still juicy. So there, I just invented a new method of roasting red peppers!

Half the peppers are chopped and added to the soup and the other half were made into a puree. As you can see below, the “puree” didn’t add much aesthetic value. When I finally got around to cleaning up two hours later, the puree had thickened a little, so it might actually swirl in the soup. Personally, I’d skip it next time.

The soup was pretty good. Not the best black bean soup I’ve ever had, but cheap and easy. The book does have a lot of good weeknight meals, though, so I’ll have to come back to it next month.

Bonus: assistant editor

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