Friday, April 3, 2009

Cooking to Save the Planet: Garbanzo Salsa Salad

Two days ago, when I blogged about the frittata I made from the remains of a Creole boiled dinner, I ended my posting noting that the broth from the boiled dinner would probably become the base of a lentil soup in a few days (here).

That's not precisely what happened, and it occurs to me to blog now about what did happen with that broth from the boiled dinner. As I've mentioned in previous postings in this series on cooking to save the planet, I'm offering these food ideas not so much to provide readers with exact recipes, but to jog people's imagination about the manifold ways we can cook simple, nutritious, delicious meals using materials right at hand in our own kitchens--and making frugal use of leftovers or foodstuffs that we might otherwise discard, if they don't fit into tonight's dinner.

When I looked for lentils yesterday, I didn't immediately see them in our pantry. What I did see was a bag of dried garbanzo beans. I happened to have some cooked rice on hand at the same time, from my birthday dinner: Steve, my brother and sister-in-law, a nephew, and my aunt had taken me to an Indian restaurant, and it was left over from that meal. So here's what I decided to do:

I cooked the garbanzos in the savory broth from the boiled dinner. As they cooked, I put the rice (it was about a cup) into a mixing bowl with half a sweet white onion finely chopped, half a bell pepper chopped, two toes of garlic minced, and a good handful of chopped cilantro. Into this I mixed about a cup of salsa.

We keep salsa on hand most of the time. I refuse to buy brands that include additives and/or sugar or corn syrup. I find some of the salsas produced in Mexico are the best I can buy locally; they have simple, real ingredients--tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, and that's it. We also often make our own salsa, using fresh tomatoes in season and canned ones out of season.

I had about a scant cup of salsa on hand, so that went into the bowl with the other ingredients, along with a tablespoon or two of lime juice and several tablespoons of olive oil. The salsa wasn't picante, so I also chopped and added a jalapeno pepper.

When the garbanzos were tender, I drained them and added about two cups to the salad mix. This went into the icebox to chill for supper, and when we were ready to eat, I tore a bed of lettuce, put the garbanzo salad on it, and garnished it with some slices of ripe avocado. That was our meal along with corn tortillas and a glass of Mexican beer.

Simple, very tasty, food that doesn't demand either materials or cooking techniques that stress the earth . . . . And the ingredients were right there in my kitchen, when I looked for them. The only thing I might add, if I were planning this meal and shopping for ingredients, would be some queso fresco to crumble on top as a garnish.