Friday, 22 April 2011

Edible Sunshine

Insalata di Arance & Asparagi con Peperoni
Orange and Asparagus Salad with Bell Pepper

Summer is on the doorstep and we are all looking forward to finally be rid of those long cold nights. Our taste buds are ready for new delights after all of the good comfort food we have been enjoying during the Winter months.
Time to get creative and cool for the hot Summer days ahead!

I know that you know that I am throwing together recipes made of my left-overs... Do you think that I care what you think?
And it's not simply a rule of survival for a guy living on his own- it's also just good common-sense and also the starting point of many a great culinary discovery.
I had red and green bell-peppers and asparagus left over from last night. The thicker ends of the asparagus were so soft and juicy that it would have been a shame to not put them to good use. So I cut them on a slant and popped them into a pan with a little butter and gave them 4-5 minutes at a high heat. I salted and peppered them and put them to one side. Then I sliced up half of both a red and a green bell-pepper and did the same to them. This gives the vegetables a nice sheen and enhances their flavor whilst still leaving them crunchy and firm.

I added a few slices of orange and a couple of cherry tomatoes into the mix. Yes, I used thyme again too... although oregano or marjoram would also have been wonderful. But all I have at the moment is basil, rosemary and thyme, ok? This is about using what you've got!

I added a little olive oil, mixed everything together nicely... and then added the ingredient that made this into a very cool and different salad: Sumac, which is also sometimes known as Mace.

This is a red powder made of the husk that surrounds the nutmeg- it has a tart, astringent, almost vinegary flavor and is used quite a lot Turkey and the orient. You have just got to love this stuff... I mean look at it! If you had seen these things growing on one of the trees in Avatar- you would have said "that looks pretty far fetched!".  Those blue people would also have had the shock of a lifetime if they had bitten into one! Not to worry though- this has nothing to do with the poison of the same name, but it is a great alternative to vinegar to give this salad a nice kick and keep all of the natural flavors of the other ingredients.

So a good sprinkle of sumac and a little more salt and pepper were all I needed to make this unusual and totally refreshing Summer salad. Give it a try and give your taste buds a treat!

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