Thursday, November 8, 2007

New Kitchen Staple

I had heard good things about toasted sesame oil, but had never had occasion to use it, so it didn't live in my pantry until recently. I picked it up a couple of months ago from my favourite bulk and specialty food store Galloways, but it still sat in my cupboard for a while before I thought to try it. Then I made one of my typical "all in one" dishes (a grain & bean salad) and thought I'd dress it with with an oil based dressing and remembered the toasted sesame. Wow! What a difference! I mean, I put lots of goodies into these dishes, so they usually have good flavour, but this takes the prize. I shall never make this dish without toasted sesame oil again if I can help it!! So, here are, generally speaking, the ingredients from this week's version (contents subject to availability & boredom levels!).

  • 1 cup cooked grain (this week wheat berries; alternatively barley, but also sometimes second grain of quinoa or buckwheat groats)
  • 1 cup cooked beans (aduki this week; alternatively turtle, kidney or cocoa, or garbanzos)
  • 4 small carrots, sliced in rounds (this week from our garden, yay!!)
  • 1 pomegranate, just the seeds (when in season)
  • 1 cup chopped parsley & cilantro (about half a bunch each; alternatively, from our fall garden, I use a mixture of chopped chives, mint and celeriac leaves)
  • 1 broccoli crown, chopped into little broccoli florets, steamed briefly (2 min in microwave; green peas, pea pods, and apples are also good alternatives)
I have been known to add other seeds, like pumpkin, sunflower, flax, etc., but with the pomegranate seeds, I didn't feel it was necessary. I LOVE pomegranate season. They're one of my all time favourite fruits. And they're so pretty they add such nice colour to any dish. Apparently the seeds freeze well, so I've got to try that. Here's how to shuck a pomegranate if you've never done it before. Try to pick a pomegranate with nice red skin, no dark or light patches, that's heavy in your hand when you pick it up.

For the dressing, I just whisked together:
  • 1/4 cup grape seed oil
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • zest and juice of 1 lime (sometimes I use red wine, or balsamic vinegar instead)
  • 3 dashes of Louisiana hot sauce
  • pinch of cracked salt & pepper
On the first night, we had this dish with venison steaks (garnished with home-made native berry jelly, a perfect condiment for game) and roasted mushrooms. It was one of those rare (for me!) times when everything was just right - each piece of food had its own wonderful flavour & texture.

So we're on our third night of this grain & bean glop, and the flavours are just getting better (except the broccoli is a little past its prime now). But now it's all gone!

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