Saturday, January 8, 2011


Mark Bittman's recipes are fabulous in all sorts of ways, but one of their most fabulous aspects is the ease with which one can bulk up or slim down most of the resultant dishes as necessary to make a full meal, component of a meal, or a mere appetizer. Take this Asian eggplant salad, for instance.

If the presentation reminds you of action painting, it's because I basically splattered all the elements onto the plate. But it was flavorful and, oxymoronically*, hearty and fresh at the same time. This week, I'm determined to prove that wintry foods don't have to be caloric, cumbrous, or cooked to death.

Most of what is on the plate has no mention in the recipe that inspired it, which basically called for eggplant, walnuts, and dressing. I made a dressing similar to the soy lime vinaigrette in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, with the addition of reconstituted dried shallots (you'll just have to trust me here) and some minced jalapeno to keep things interesting, and tossed it with sesame oil-roasted eggplant and steamed carrots and edamame. That steamy mix went over arugula tossed with chopped cilantro on which I put a little patty of warm rice, such that the arugula wilted the tiniest bit from the warm dressing and heat from the rice. I garnished it with some chopped peanuts and would have loved to add toasted sesame seeds, but sesame seeds cost the equivalent of $99 a pound for some reason. Not interested.

*I am disappointed that I have to adverb the adjective here.

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