Saturday, September 3, 2011

When Even Five Ingredients Are Too Many

Being in dental school means traveling around with the same group of about 90 people for 4 years. Same classes, same clinic times, same lunch hour. So the other day as we all opened our lunches, one of my classmates commented on the hummus I had made. And another friend at the table brought up how her mom made a Lebanese feast the other night. And another talked about his babaganoush made with eggplant from the local Farmers' Market. I was in heaven - I mean, how wonderful that my classmates love food like me!

We are in the process of finding a date to hit up a few Farmers' Markets, because, can you believe it, I have never been to one in RVA? I know, it's pretty shameful - but I don't have a car, so I think that's a pretty good reason since I'm not in walking distance to any of them. I need to do my research to see which ones are closest because I've heard there are a few scattered around the area.

In lieu of attending the Farmers' Market, I was able to use some fresh lime basil the other night, and hence, this post was born. One of my classmates brought me a couple snippings of sweet basil and lime basil which he grows. I mean, come on, how much more perfect can you get? Fresh herbs picked that day? He even packaged them in a little cooler in moist towels so they'd stay fresh throughout the day.

I rushed home and opened the Tupperware and spent a couple minutes just tasting the herbs. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with them - I'd originally thought a quinoa salad with tomatoes and feta and cucumbers. But they were too good for that - as much as I love feta, it can crowd out other flavors.

What I decided to do was let the herbs shine on their own - I boiled some curly pasta until it was al dente. Then I drizzled in a few tablespoons of my very favorite and sacred olive oil. This is the best, guys, and I do mean it. I bought about 9 bottles in Las Vegas the last time I was there because there are only 4 places in the country that sell it. Of course, when I got home, I realized they have an online store. Fail.

I sprinkled in a little salt - because I think it helps bring out the flavor of any herb, and some fresh pepper. Then I tore in the herbs and finished it off with some lemon.

That's it. It really is so simple and as someone who grew up watching my mom cook, sometimes I feel like I'm cheating when I make something that tastes so good but takes no time at all and only uses about 3 ingredients. But if there is something I've learned since cooking on my own and refining my own style - it's that there is a time and a place for complicated. And it's not when you have fresh herbs from the garden.


  1. If you only choose one market, go to South of the James in Forest Hill Park on Saturdays. They have the largest selection of vendors.

  2. Thanks for the direction! I'll be sure to write a post once I go.