Archive for ‘cold dishes’

April 5th, 2012

Bruschetta

They say all married couples start to look like each other.  Is it true?  Today, my husband said, “You are turning into me.”  Why?  After eating my homemade bruschetta with a fresh baguette, I said, “I could eat all of this bread by myself.”

In my single days, bread was my least favorite carb.  Did I ever even buy a baguette?  Sure, I like bread, but if I’m going to consume lots of guilty calories, I’d rather it be something nutritious and versatile.  Bread is pretty much the least nutritious and the least versatile of all carbs compared to Japanese rice or pasta/noodles.  I firmly believe that I’m right, but I married a bread snob, who claims he could eat a dozen of bagels if I leave him alone for the day.  On top of that, he doesn’t like rice, so I have to find interesting ways to use less-than-nutritious bread.  One of which, is bruschetta.

My recipe is quick and simple.  Dice tomato, chop garlic & onion, chiffonade basil leaves add olive oil, add a squeeze of lemon juice, and good salt to taste.  Leave in a tightly lid container for a few hours to overnight in the fridge.  Spread on a nice piece of bread and you’ll feel like you are biting into a little of Italy; bright, fresh and delicious  It’s so good that it may change your opinion of that evil white bread.  It surely changed mine.  At least I found a way to include fresh vegetables so that I don’t feel guilty reaching for that third piece.  Maybe I am turning into my husband.

 

October 3rd, 2011

Caprese Pasta

As a Japanese person growing up in humid Tokyo, I love nothing more than cold noodles on a hot day.  Although officially, the calendar says ‘fall’, in sunny Los Angeles, it seems like the weather forgot it’s October, as temperatures still soar into the upper 80s.  With a forecast like that, is it surprising that my dinner menu still revolves around either salad or cold noodles?  Well, maybe not for me, having grown up with cold Japanese pasta dishes, but for my husband, ‘cold’ and ‘noodles’ are two words that he’d prefer not to have listed together in a description of his dinner.  Even though most Americans have embraced pasta salad, my husband is still a holdout. But I was feeling a bit adventurous and I sensed that he was tired of another salad dinner, so I got creative.  I knew he wouldn’t eat Japanese soba or udon cold, but knowing that he loves caprese salad, I casually suggested a pasta dinner without mentioning anything about temperature.  Sneaky, right?

When we visited Tokyo in July, the temperature was 100 and the humidity hovered around 95%.  Not in the mood for something hot, I ordered a cold capellini pomodoro dish at an Italian restaurant.  Between the delicious flavor and the small Japanese portion, I was convinced that I could eat ten servings of this masterpiece.  Was my enthusiasm shared by my husband?  Well, yes, if ‘meh’ is considered an expression of high praise. I knew he didn’t like Japanese-y cold soba broth (I’m suspecting the fish taste of the broth was enhanced when cold), but why not delicious tomato sauce with perfectly cooked, al dente capellini!?  I was puzzled.  With that memory in mind, you are probably wondering  why I’d risk dinner on the chances that he’d enjoy a cold pasta dish?  Call me a gambler, but I was hoping his fondness for caprese would outweigh his dislike of cold noodles.

Did my gamble pay off?  Let’s just say if this were poker, I hit the royal flush.  He loved it!  Maybe now I won’t mind the high temps of fall in Los Angeles knowing we have a delicious dinner option.  And now, so do you…

Here’s how to make the caprese sauce:

Ingredients:

  • Heirloom tomatoes (cut into small bite sizes)
  • Fresh basil leaves (chopped)
  • White onion (small dices)
  • Garlic (minced)
  • really good olive oil
  • really good salt
  • freshly grinded black pepper
  • White balsamic vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • fresh mozzarella cheese
  1. Mix everything but cheese in a bowl.  The ratio of tomato to basil to onion to cheese that you’re looking for is roughly: 5:1:2:3, while the ratio of olive oil to garlic to acid is 10:3:1
  2. Keep in the fridge about 20 minutes
  3. Add mozzarella a few minutes before mixing with pasta; adjust flavor with salt and pepper