I grew up watching lots of Food Network (way back when it called the "TV Food Network"), and if there's one thing I learned, it's that meals should have "gorgeous color." When I was home alone in the summer, I'd concoct crazy meals in my mama's kitchen with way too much spice. And I'd say to my pretend audience, "Just look how the color of these green beans pops against the yellow corn." Sometimes, when I'm alone, I still pretend like I'm on a cooking show when I'm prepping meals (yes, I just admitted that). And I still brag about the lovely colors in my saute pan.
I also know that one's plate should contain lots of colors for the full nutritional spectrum (beta carotene, flavanoids, and all that mess). But tonight's two dishes violated that rule. My entree and my side veggie turned out almost the exact same color. I didn't even think about that when planning this very orange and tan meal.
My main dish were these Chickpeas with Carrots and Onion from The Natural Vegan Kitchen:
This is the sort of dish that doesn't need a recipe, but it has one magical ingredient that I wouldn't have thought to include without some direction from cookbook author/macrobiotic guru Christine Waltermyer — kombu! The flat, dark green sea veggie is simmered with the dry chickpeas, carrots, and onion, and after it sits a spell, the juice gets all thick from the gelatin-like effect of the kombu. Not like Jello-thick, though. More like cornstarch-thick, but without the gravy-like consistency.
My other orange and tan dish was this serving of Steamed Sweet Potato Melt, also from The Natural Vegan Kitchen:
It might look similar to melted cheese, but that gooey stuff on top is actually melted mochi! If you've never had mochi and love chewy food, this stuff is a must-try. It's a pressed rice cake that melts when heated and puffs up when baked in the oven. It's super chewy and delicious.
I must say though, this sweet tater dish may be one of the weirdest things I've ever cooked. Delicious, but weird. The potatoes are steamed in orange juice and then topped with a tahini-dill sauce and melted mochi. Strange as hell, right? But I think that's why I was drawn to it. I'm always attracted to dishes with weird-ass flavor profiles.
Anyway, I'm sure I got plenty of beta carotene from this meal, considering all that orange. Despite it's color-sameness, the two dishes complemented one another quite well.
Do you strive to get as many colors onto your plate as possible? Or do you also secretly have pretend cooking shows in your kitchen (I know I'm not the only one!)?