Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Summer Vegetables with Chimichurri

What should you do when you’re driving on the left lane in the freeway and your exit is coming up in less than 2 miles and there are 4 cars on the right lane that are so close to one another and there is no room for you to cut in? (Mouthful!)

That’s basically where I was yesterday and because I had a horrible experience missing that exit last week, I decided it shouldn’t happen again. I sped up to get ahead of the 4 cars so I can take my exit. Then when there was finally a safe distance between car #1 and car #2, I squeezed in and… got caught speeding and cutting other vehicles off.

Lesson learned… do not believe your friends when they say it’s ok to speed on the left lane when you’re passing other cars. The police officer would hear none of my explanations and told me that since I was not bleeding to death, what I did was absolutely unnecessary. Great! Never mind the fact that I was only speeding up because I needed to get to my exit and when I cut in, there was a good distance between me, the car in front, and the car behind.

Tears flowed, explanations became incoherent, anger was pushed down… the police officer lessened my speed by half and did not charge me for cutting in front of another vehicle. Still, $93 and another a speeding ticket on my record.

Work wasn’t as fun after what happened. All I wanted to do was go home and cry, but I had students to see and I’m glad I pushed on. They are sweet and their smiles brightened me up.

After work, I hastened to the dental office for a filling appointment. For some reason, there’s a crack in one of my back teeth. When I got home, my numb face and numb heart (from the morning police encounter) wiped me out and a nap was due. Working out usually fixes me during frustrated mindset moments, but since my mouth was in no working order for smiles or conversations at the gym, I opted to stay home and make granola and a delicious dinner.

During summers, I go crazy with the abundance of vegetables. There’s plenty and they are so good there’s no need to cover up the taste. I like to just sauté them with olive oil then add simple seasonings such as salt and pepper. Which is exactly what I did here… no need for a super accurate recipe here… feel free to add more or substitute and even use herbs or special seasonings to your fancy.

Summer Vegetable Sauté (Makes 4 servings)

olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small Walla Walla onion (or any sweet onion), sliced
4 shiitake mushrooms (or more), roughly chopped
1 carrot, chopped into half moons
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 zucchini, chopped into half moons
1 yellow zucchini, chopped into half moons
salt and pepper   
Coat the bottom of a large pan with olive oil. Heat the oil over medium heat.

When the oil is hot, sauté the garlic until it turns golden brown. Add the onion slices and sauté until soft and translucent. Throw in the mushrooms and sauté until soft. Season with about 1-2 pinches of salt and pepper.

Toss the carrot sliced and cook for a little over a minute. Add the bell pepper slices in and cook for a little over a minute. Throw in the zucchini and cook for about 2 minutes. Lastly, throw in the yellow zucchini and stir everything constantly for about 4 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm.

What made this dinner most special was the chimichurri… For the Food Matters Project recipe two weeks ago, the members made chimichurri and I used mine as a pizza sauce for an extremely amazing grilled pizza. So, I wanted to give it another try with sautéed vegetables and a piece of pork chop. Yep, just a piece! Minimal meat intake in this household. The chimichurri added so much flavor and freshness to everything I slathered it on! It was garlicky with a slight spicy kick and a bright, lemony zing.  

Adapted from Mark Bittman’s, Mixed Grill with Chimichurri

2 cups fresh parsley, mostly leaves
1 cup basil
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup olive oil
juice of 1 medium sized lemon
1 tsp red chili flakes
salt and pepper to taste
Place the parsley, basil, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice and purée in a blender. Add the chili flakes, a pinch or two of salt, and pepper and purée for a few more seconds. Serve fresh!

Now, the pork chop. It was a delicious Mexican fiesta, even though there was just one piece shared by two adults (the bigger adult got 2/3 of it). Seriously though, it had all the right seasonings in it that made it incredibly tasty.

Mexican Pork Chop (for one)
1 pork chop
1 cup water
juice of 1 lime
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp cayenne
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp salt
1 small bay leaf
Place water, lime juice, cumin, cayenne, paprika, coriander, salt, and bay leaf in a medium size sauce pan. Stir just until everything is mixed well. Add the pork chop.

Turn the heat on to medium and cook for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down a notch and flip the pork chop on the other side and cook for 12-15 more minutes.  

Serve warm.

Serve everything with rice and you have a complete, healthy, and delicious meal!

After dinner, I asked DFJ to write the $93 check for my speeding infraction. It would have hurt me too much to do it… I signed it with a heavy heart, took a deep breath, promised myself to be more mindful next time, and stopped hating the police officer. He was just doing his job.

You think if I invited him over for dinner, he would have torn my check and just told me to be good next time? Hmmm…    

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