Trifle Salad and Red-Pepper-and-Potato Soup…

We’ve had a hectic few days up here at the cabin with visitors aplenty from Ontario, so today I had a relaxing day of cooking and yell-singing along to Patsy Cline’s greatest hits (oh god, my poor neighbours).

Anyway, I had to both empty the fridge of a bunch of vegetables and start using some of my produce and herbs, so I made what I’ve decided to call “Trifle Salad”: first, the salad is layered like a trifle; second, I doubled the recipe and the only bowl it all fit into was my mum’s famous trifle bowl.

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I inherited the bowl recently when my parents gave up their home to move to a seniors residence. Everyone else thought the bowl (which my paternal grandmother apparently picked up at a United Church bazaar) was hideous, but I always appreciated its distinct hideosity.

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Once I got the bowl home, I did some research, and it turned out to be a Wedgwood bowl from about 1865. I believe it must be a second because (as you can see) some of the paint on the pedestal was clearly dripped. The bowl is also slightly chipped (likely by one of the hooligans with whom I share parentage). These old pieces of pottery aren’t worth anything really, but it’s kind of neat to know the bowl’s history because it sat on a dining room shelf at my parents’ home for fifty-or-so years.

Anyway, here’s the recipe for…

Trifle Salad (adapted from this recipe)…

Dressing:

Blend in the magic bullet…

  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh basil

Cook….

  • 4oz brown rice pasta

Drain and rinse with cold water.  Place in large bowl and toss with 1/3 of the dressing.

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Chop….

  • 2 cups chopped fresh vegetables: I used zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cabbage, and (fresh from the garden!) carrots, and swiss chard
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • ½ cup sliced ripe olives (I used a mix of kalamata and jalepeno-stuffed green olives)

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Layer ingredients on top of the pasta in the following order: vegetables, tomatoes, olives.  Top with remaining dressing.

Sprinkle on top…

  • ¼ to ½ cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley

Chill for several hours and top with (optional, though I might add it to J’s)…

  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese (freshly grated) or feta cheese (crumbled)

Toss lightly before serving.

In the future, I think I’d forgo the brown-rice pasta and replace it with brown rice or, perhaps, quinoa.

And then I made…

Red-Pepper-and-Potato Soup (adapted from this NYT recipe)…

1 TBS olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

Salt

4 plump garlic cloves, green shoots removed, minced

1 tablespoon Sambal Oelek

2 pounds (4 large) red bell peppers, seeded, membranes removed, cut in large dice

2 teaspoons paprika

1 pound russet potatoes (about 2 medium), peeled and diced

2 quarts vegetable stock

A bouquet garni made with a bay leaf and a couple of sprigs each fresh rosemary and parsley, tied together in a bundle

1/4 cup fresh basil

Freshly ground pepper

Feta or parmesan (optional)

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1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot, and add the onion and carrot. Cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to soften. Continue to cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes, and stir in the garlic and Sambal Oelek. Stir for a minute or two, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the peppers and paprika. Cook, stirring often, until the peppers begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

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2. Add the potatoes, stock, and bouquet garni, and bring to a simmer. Add salt to taste, cover and simmer over low heat for one hour. Remove the bouquet garni.

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3. Blend the soup until smooth with an immersion blender. Once it’s all blended, toss in a quarter-cup of fresh basil and blend again.

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The original called for tomato paste, rather than Sambal Oelek, but the hot sauce gives it a bit of a kick. Also, the original recipe requires that you strain the soup after you’ve blended it, but that seemed an unnecessary step because the soup is very smooth after blending. Also, the original recipe called for thyme in the bouquet garni, not rosemary, but I blithely (and smugly) snipped my fresh herbs and tossed them into the pot, only to realize later that I don’t actually grow thyme in my garden…I grow rosemary. Oh well, it tastes pretty good (and very healthy!).

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And….here’s the finished product! I served it on a bed of fresh butter lettuce from the garden and sprinkled the salad with some dried coconut chips my sweet niece brought me from her health-food store in Ontario.

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I then served it with a lovely riesling (another gift from my sweet niece, Sharon!).

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And the verdict is….mixed. The salad is awesome (10/10 would do again), but I’d go with a dressing with less oil in the future, and, as I mentioned above, I’d like use a grain with more texture, like brown rice or quinoa. The soup was a bit too labour intensive for the finished product, which was a bit too salty and not flavourful enough (and I lurve my salt). All in, the soup was 5/10 (likely would not do again without major adjustments).

And here’s my favourite Patsy Cline tune to yell-sing along with…

PS Best line to really belt out: “I really don’t KNOW, but I KNOW…it won’t le-et me BEEEE-eeeee.”

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