Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Meatless Monday Meal Without Planning

Another Meatless Monday has come and gone and the best laid plans of Al and Cyn....well, you know the rest. Over the weekend, like we usually do, we talked about a couple of possible dishes. First, there was going to be a lentil and pasta dish that sounded very yummy. It was from a recipe I found on Lidia Bastianich's website. For those of you who may not know who Lidia is, you need to check her out here. If you ever have the opportunity to go to one of her restaurants, do. One of the five best meals I've ever had was at her flagship restaurant in NYC, Felidia.

At some point, I think it was Sunday afternoon, the plan had morphed into a vegetable lasagna that Cynthia has been dying to make. By the time we went to bed that night, we hadn't reached consensus and I gave Cyn the green light to surprise me. Fast forward to Monday and that's when everything changed.

It was a beautiful 65 degree day in Northern Virginia and while I was at work, Cyn couldn't resist getting out into the garden. Spring, it seems, has sprung, or at least had on Monday. You see, we garden a lot, flowers, vegetables, herbs and, did I mention we are building a koi pond starting next week? We are, but more about that in a future post. Needless to sat there is a lot of winter clean up to do before the real spring gets here. So, when I got stuck at work a little later than usual, and Cyn lost track of time and worked in the garden all day and the next thing we knew it was 6:00 PM and neither one of us had considered what was for dinner. Time to scramble.

Fortunately, we tend to keep a pretty well stocked refrigerator and Cyn is particularly adept at improvising. Remember the French green lentils from the Sheperds Pie post a week ago? Well, we had some left over in the fridge and they became the base of our first course. Add some yellow and orange bell peppers, a few beautiful sweet peppadews, cucumber, onion, barrel aged feta cheese and calamata olives. Thin slice some eggplant and zucchini on a mandolin, and cook them very briefly on both sides (use a grill pan with ridges to make it pretty if you have one). Combine, drizzle with your favorite dressing (we mixed our homemade balsamic vinaigrette with a Greek dressing  from a restaurant called Lefteris in Mount Kisco, NY that had been given to us by a good fried (thanks Judy!). The finished salad was rich, very flavorful and could easily have been a main course.

As they say on the late night commercials, but wait, there's more....

Not knowing how filling the salad would be, we planned to have a second course of a angel hair pasta with the garlic roasted tomato sauce we had canned last summer. It's a very basic marinara sauce that we love to keep on hand as much as we can. Honestly, there is nothing quite as satisfying as a summery fresh tasting tomato sauce eaten in the winter made from the tomatoes you grew yourself.

Can't get that taste from those cardboard tomato imposters you find at the supermarket in February. Like I said, I'm not sure we needed the pasta course, but it sure was tasty.

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