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Ronnie Paul: Fall recipes to meditate on

Asian pasta salad makes a good fall meal.
Submitted Photo |

My husband Jeff and I sip coffee together every morning and discuss the major issues confronting us. For example, today’s topics included where to plant the on-sale Daphne, how much to withdraw from the ATM and where we went wrong as parents.

After covering these pressing subjects, my mind is blissfully quiet until I close my eyes to meditate. The ideas I conjure during my 30-minute meditation probably rival the contents of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

This morning, while trying to calm my jabbering mind, I mentally transplanted the Shasta daisies and worked out a Celtic tune I’ve been learning on the ukulele. I won’t even mention the various wardrobe combinations I considered for the wedding we’re attending.



Inhale, exhale: when I suddenly remembered to just breathe and not think, I actually luxuriated in silence for a split second before noticing bird calls.

I received a bird book for Christmas, so I tried differentiating the songs of warblers from goldfinches. Then my images of orange and yellow bird feathers transported me to a Mexican palapa where I munched guacamole and chips and sipped a chilled Margarita.




Of course, the tropical images encouraged more food ideas. Could I marinate green beans in a lime and coconut dressing? Does pineapple panzanella sound weird?

The fortunate outcome of my daily meditation practice is new recipes. I hope you appreciate what emerges from my chattering mind.

Sunomono Pasta Salad

4-6 Servings

I love Japanese cucumber salad, and came up with a version that morphed into a pasta salad.

Ingredients:

12 ounces curly pasta, cooked until tender

1 cup peeled and seeded cucumbers, cut in half-moons

1/4 cup shredded green cabbage

1/4 cup shredded carrot

.18 ounce package of toasted nori, crumbled (This small version of sushi wrappers comes in small packets and is found in the ethnic section of most natural food stores.)

3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Dressing

Whisk together:

3/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons white sugar

4 teaspoons Tamari (This is the wheat-free equivalent of soy sauce)

1 tablespoon sesame oil

Toss everything together and put in the refrigerator to chill. Let the salad come to room temperature, then toss and serve.

Chutnied Eggplant

Serves 4

Summer eggplant is still rolling in, so when you’ve exhausted all your old eggplant recipes, try this. By the way, to create an exotic theme dinner, serve this with the above Sunomono Pasta Salad.

Ingredients:

4 medium Japanese eggplants (1 1/2 pounds total)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Dressing

Whisk together;

1 tablespoon sesame oil

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons Major Grey’s mango chutney

1 tablespoon minced red onion

Split the eggplant in half lengthwise, and brush the cut surfaces with olive oil. Place the eggplant face down on a greased baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees until the eggplant is easily pierced with a fork.

Put the eggplant face up in a shallow dish and pierce the flesh all over with a fork.

Spoon dressing over each eggplant, cover tightly, and chill for a few hours (overnight is fine, too.)

Arrange artfully on a platter and serve.

Ronnie Paul is a freelance writer in Nevada City.


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