26 January 2009

Two meals, somewhat local

"Noodles with the Red Topping"

Sunday night at Cosentino's I bought local basil. In January. It's Living Basil from Basehor, Kansas. I must say that there was something jarring about the sensation of smelling basil in the winter at the grocery store - three elements that felt strange all mixed together. After a few years in a CSA, I have grown accustomed to the most pungent fresh basil in the summer and only in the summer and only at a farmer's market, not a grocery store. But eating with the seasons is one thing - eating locally is another. And the CalAnn's Living Basil smelled so good and we were having pasta for dinner and it's local. So I bought it.

The basil has roots and soil - it stays fresh sitting on your counter top, growing.

I thawed tomato sauce in the fridge over night.

For the pasta sauce we used tomato sauce that I made and froze in July. It is a totally local, pure and simple, delicious and reliable tomato sauce. We added Smart Round (from an, ahem, undisclosed location) to make it a "meat" sauce, added the basil and some parmesan ... and it was delicious!

Vegetable Pilaf

Then Tuesday night we made Vegetable Pilaf. This is one of my all time favorite dishes and has been a repeated standard in our repertoire for years. But tonight, for the first time, we made it with local carrots and corn. The peas were from ... well, you know. But hey - you can't win 'em all, at least not all at once. (Note for next year - freeze some peas!)

The corn I froze berry style, meaning I spread it out on a cookie sheet first to freeze and then compiled it in a very large tupperware container. This method is meant to keep the kernels independent of one another. Even so, it was a little difficult to wrest 1/3 cup of corn from the frozen mass.
The carrots were even harder. I think I need to freeze them berry style next year.

Now if only I can get some of that rice from the rice producers in the bootheel of Missouri, then this would be really local.

from the Vegetarian Best Ever Collection, page 166

1 cup basmati rice

2 T. olive oil
½ t. cumin seeds
2-3 bay leaves
6 green cardamom pods
6 cloves
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely diced (or about 1/3 cup froz
1/3 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup frozen corn
¼ cup cashews, lightly fried
1 can or 2 cups vegetable broth

¼ t. cumin

Wash rice in several changes of cold water. Put in a bowl, cover with water, let soak 30 minutes. Heat oil in large frying pan, sauté cumin seeds for 2 minutes. Add bay leaves, cardamom, cloves, and sauté for 2 more mi
nutes. Add onions – cook for 5 minutes. Stir in carrots (if fresh) – cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain the rice and add to the pan together with the peas, corn, and carrots (if frozen) and cashews – cook for 4-5 minutes. Add 1 can vegetable broth, ground cumin, salt. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes over low heat, until all broth is absorbed. (Keep watch and add water if needed). Let stand, covered, for 10 minutes before serving.

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