Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fresh Veggie Stacks

Fresh vegetable stack
Summer is in full swing in the Midwest.  The good news is there were beautiful tomatoes and cucumbers at the farmer's market. The bad news is the heat. I had two criteria for lunch, I didn't want to heat up the kitchen and I wanted something fresh. So, I decided to make something I haven't made since last summer, veggie stacks. They are deceiving easy to make but very time consuming. There is a lot of chopping. I had blocked the amount of chopping these take out of my mind, but it all came rushing back to me as I prepared the dish. Instead of buying food rings, I use PVC pipe. You can get PVC pipe from your local hardware store. If you are lucky you can talk someone else into cutting the pipe into sections and smoothing the edges for you.
As I was trying to name this recipe, I starting thinking about whether I should call tomatoes a fruit or vegetable and did a little research. I discovered that the US Supreme Court actually looked at this very issue. The Court ruled in Nix v Hedden, 149 US 304 (1893) that while the tomato is technically a fruit, under customs regulations it should be classified (as thus taxed) as a vegetable and not a fruit. I recommend clicking the link and reading the case-- it is a short case and a fun bit of history. So from a botanical standpoint these should really be fruit stacks and not veggie stacks but from a legal perspective they are veggie and fruit stacks.

Cilantro Dressing

The Dressing 

1 Clove of Garlic
1/4 Cup (60 ml) of Lime Juice
2 Tbsp of Honey
3 Tbsp of Rice Wine Vinegar
1/2 Cup (10 g) of Cilantro
1/3 Cup (80 ml) of Vegetable or Canola Oil

Place all of the ingredient except the oil in a food processor and combine. Once the garlic is chopped and the cilantro is in small pieces, slowly add the oil (in a steady stream). Set aside.  Note: If you don't want to make your own dressing, Trader Joe's Cilantro Dressing is a great substitute.

The Layers (All in Separate Bowls)

2 Cups of Cooked Basmati or Jasmine Rice (1 Cup (180 g) Uncooked) (Mixed with 3 Tbsp of Dressing) Chill while you are making the other layers
1 Cup (150 g) of Diced Tomato (Mixed with 2 Tbsp of Dressing)
1 Cup (130 g) of Diced Cucumber (Peeled and seeds Removed) (Mixed with 2 Tbsp of Dressing)
1 Avocado (155 g), Diced (Mixed with 2 Tbsp of Dressing)
1 Cup (155 g) of Diced Mango (Mixed with 2 Tbsp of Dressing)
The assembly line is ready
Line a plate with salad greens (I used baby spinach and arugula). Place PVC pipe or food ring on top of the greens. Place a couple of spoonfuls of rice in the bottom of the PVC pipe and press down. Add the layers in the following order (press down after each addition): tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, and mango.
View from the top
Finally add the remaining rice and press down. Any remaining dressing can be drizzled over the greens and rice.  Carefully remove the PVC pipe. Enjoy!
It didn't fall down
The bottom line: Will I make this again? Yes, I love these (I ate two). Next time, I will try to plan my time better and budget more time for chopping.

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