Sunday, October 23, 2011

Colorful Pepper and Pastrami Salad

How pretty is that!!??
(Ok, I made it for dinner on 11/1/11)!
Have you ever had the bad dream where you are expecting company for a meal, realize that you forgot to cook all the food, and have nothing in the house except for tuna?  Well, I recently had an experience that came pretty close to that! This past Sukkot we were really blessed with having a lot of family staying with us and eating all the holiday meals.  Our Sukkah was pretty accommodating and we were able to actually invite a few additional people to further enhance our Yom Tov meals. I also try really hard to have all my cooking done before the holiday so that I can enjoy the meals with everyone rather than alone, laboring in the kitchen while everyone is having a grand old time eating the food I’m preparing!

On the morning that we were having 20 people in our Sukkah for lunch, I woke up and realized that I had forgotten to make an appetizer.  I realize that in the scheme of things it’s really not that big of a deal, but when having company I like to serve a nice meal – including an appetizer!  I thought about what I might have leftover in my freezer (shudder) and remembered that I had some “fish” fish left over from Rosh Hashana along with the accompanying sauce – great! (“Fish” fish is a puff pastry that looks like a fish, is filled with a salmon filling, and comes with a cucumber dill sauce – pretty, fun and delicious).  I opened the container and…oh no!...there were only 8 fish.  ARGH!  You couldn’t even cut the fish into pieces without having the appetizer appear barbaric – “Oooh look…I got the head”!   It was time to pull out the “Kitchen MacGyver” hat and see what I had left in the fridge that wasn’t already cooked for other meals and could pass as an appetizer.  With the action movie music playing in my head, I began searching for whatever I could find.  Hard boiled eggs for egg salad?  Only one hard boiled egg left…RATS!  Wait...I found exactly 6 leftover slices of the roasted Romanian pastrami from the night before – excellent…ingredient number one.  In the back depths of my extra basement refrigerator I found a long forgotten package of small colorful sweet peppers – SCORE!…ingredient number two.   I quickly put one of my guests (who luckily is a dear friend) to washing and cutting the peppers into long, julienne strips, while I cut the pastrami into similar shaped strips.  I grabbed 5 or 6 washed romaine lettuce leaves, cut them into long, julienne strips and added them to the incredibly delicious pastrami and peppers.  Wow!   It was gorgeous!  The colors of the peppers, contrasting with the pastrami and the lettuce was a thing to behold.  I grabbed the bottled Italian dressing from the refrigerator door, added a few squirts and…Tra La…my appetizer salad was done!  We plated the salad, and when it was time to bring it out there were ooh’s and ah’s from everyone…and the best part – it was really tasty as well as colorful and attractive.

Pick a pound of pretty peppers!
I knew that the makings of the next blog were born at that meal…sadly, because it was Yom Tov no pictures could be taken!  Unlike the real MacGyver show, there were no TV cameras following me around during my appetizer quest.  Oh well.  I know that I’ll be making that awesome Colorful Pepper and Pastrami Salad again soon and when I do – you’ll be seeing the results!

Colorful Pepper and Pastrami Salad
1   pound         colorful small sweet peppers, seeded, white inside parts removed
                       and cut into 2 ½ inch julienne strips
6   thick slices  pastrami (approximately 1/3 pound)*, 
                       cut into 2 ½ inch julienne strips
5   large           romaine lettuce leaves, washed and cut into 2 ½ inch julienne strips
3   tbsp           Wishbone Italian Salad Dressing (or more to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl.  Toss gently to combine.  Allow to rest for 20 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.  Serve on individual salad plates for an appetizer or in a beautiful bowl for a side salad.

*Note:  I used the leftover Romanian pastrami that I had roasted (unsliced) for dinner the day before.  Slow roasting the pastrami brings out the flavor of the meat and melts off some of the fat in the pastrami.  You can also make this dish gluten-free for the GFE (Gluten Free Eater) by using gluten-free Italian Dressing.

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