I just love it when it's easy to be virtuous. I'm gratified when the sun is setting and I have accomplished ... you know ...something. When a huge project that looms like the spirit of doom over you is suddenly broken down into bits and pieces and you find - you're not tearing your hair out and muttering odd words to yourself - but actually completing the project. Those are my happy days.
Tell me virtuous eating is all about celery sticks and carrots and I go running to the nearest bowl of pasta. And gelato. And salty-dark chocolate. During my week of the "huge project that follows me like a storm cloud," I have been contemplating a new diet - only carbs! They jump start my brain. For five minutes and then I need a nap.
When this happiness salad appeared (tender, chopped zucchini, fresh corn, berries, pears, peaches and then topped with that decadent fruit that masquerades as a vegetable - the avocado), I found a midway point. I could balance my carb-laden dishes (which fuels my spirit) and my plant-laden meals (which offers me balance).
My happiness salad is from Zarela Martinez and she is Week 47 of Gourmet's Female Game-Changers in Food. Martinez was born and raised in Mexico but began her cooking career in El Paso, Texas. Paul Prudhomme and Craig Claiborne noted her extraordinary Mexican cooking and encouraged her to move to New York City.There she became the menu designer and eventually the Executive Chef for Marimba. She garnered a lot of attention for creating true Mexican Cuisine but with local New York resources.
Her dishes have been described as "vivid" and "vibrant." I find that so appropriate because when I think of Mexico - vibrant colors are indeed what come to mind.
In 1987, she opened her own restaurant Zarela - which received excellent reviews and had a fiercely loyal customer base. New Yorkers still lament her decision to close Zarela in 2011. It was time to move on to other things. She has an unwavering commitment to Mexican culture and wants to promote that knowledge through her knowledge of food and Mexican traditions. To that end, she is on the Board of the Mexican Cultural Institute. Martinez continues to make TV appearance, cater and offers cooking lessons. There are whispers of a new restaurant or salon - we shall see. Meanwhile, her extensive knowledge of Mexican cuisines and many recipes can be found at her website: http://www.zarela.com/about/
This salad is not the typical fare at any Mexican restaurant in Minnesota! And for those who think Mexican cooking is all about the carbs (not that there's anything wrong with that)- this recipe may have you rethinking that.
Fruit and Vegetable Salad - serves 6-8
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1 medium zucchini - diced
1 small cucumber - diced
1 pear (preferable Comice - I used Bosc) - peeled and diced
1 firm, sweet peach, peeled and diced
1 cup fresh blueberries
Seeds of 1 pomegranate (I omitted - when you can find a peach in the store - you cannot find a pomegranate)
2 small avocados - peeled and finely diced (I used 1 medium)
1/4 olive oil (I used less)
Juice of 3 limes (I used 2)
salt to taste
Combine fruits and vegetables in a large bowl. Whisk olive oil and lime juice to taste. Add salt. Pour over salad. Serve immediately.
One thing I did note is that this salad does depend on having at least 3 seasons worth of fresh ingredients at your grocer. Pomegranate and blueberries don't jump into the stores at the same month!
I must also note that although this serves 6-8, 3 of us ate it all with glee.
And my huge project? It is becoming so exciting I am like the countdown to New Year's Eve. With garden-fresh ingredients on my right side and pasta on my left side, I am no longer creating a bald spot from tearing out my hair. On the contrary - I am leaping awkwardly around the house in sheer excitement and alarming the cat. Time for balance. Time for more of this salad.
Check out what the other bloggers are doing to honor this week's game-changer Zarela Martinez and if you want to join in the fun, e-mail Mary at One Perfect Bite. Mary started this delectable journey.
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds,
Linda A - There and Back Again,