Welp, I’m free. Graduate school is through with me, and it will probably take all summer to fully recover. So far, I have browsed at a used bookstore and purchased random books mostly based on their covers, cleaned for half the day, and gone a whole
day afternoon hour? without worrying about grades. That much.
I haven’t quit with this pesky over-analysis though. Lately, for example, I’ve been thinking a lot about the lovely photography on food blogs. I am into it–I mean, I think it is beautiful, and I aspire to take photos like, say this or this. Just look at this close up of an egg. That blasted yolk is the size of my fist.
Sometimes I wonder what we’re hiding, though, with all the fuzzy backgrounds and the white countertops and the close ups. I’ve been thinking that when food is photographed more like art than like food–in this mystical, dreamy space–it covers up a lot of things, such as the hard work that goes into cooking, the cost of the food, the paper towels used, the dishes washed, the farmer who grew it, the truck that drove it here, and the household it was prepared in.
Admittedly, the purpose of food blogs isn’t necessarily to expose production, from farm to table, but it’s something I’ve been conscious of. Most people look at food blogs to relax or get some practical recipe advice. For the overthinkers like me, though, there’s a lot going on.
This is a super refreshing salad I made mid-finals. It was inspired by the Roomz’s latest pineapple mango salsa, but I was feeling a lot less ambitious eighteen pages of research paper deep. Ataulfo mangoes and avocados are seasonal right now–somewhere. There are a few weeks in the spring each year when every basket in Whole Foods reads “product of ‘insert warm locale here.’” I’m not sure how these gems get to our grocery stores up in Boston, but it sure is a field day when they do.
I used bulgur wheat as a base, since the Roomz and I are campaigning in our household to use more whole grains and quench our insatiable desire for starch with novelty fibers (just coined that term, ahem). Bulgur has a really nice texture and tastes pretty mild. According to Wikipedia, “it has a light, nutty flavor,” but I think that’s just what people say to make the idea of whole grains more appealing. I love all things texture, though, so I was happy. Add a little lemon and some toasted nuts, and you’re good to go. (PS – there are prunes. Shhhh, just let me make this happen.)
Yay! Salad with no lettuce!!
Mango Avocado Salad with Bulgur Wheat
1 mango (Ataulfo, if possible)
½ cup par-boiled bulgur wheat (most bulgur is partially cooked when you buy it, and it will say “10 minute bulgur” or something like that)
Handful of nuts (I used pecans and almonds)
½ lemon or 1 whole lime (for juice)
4-5 prunes, in halves or thirds, depending on size (check for pits before destroying your knife!!)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1. Prepare the bulgur according to package directions. You want to end up with about 1 cup, cooked. Let cool slightly and fluff with fork.
2. Slice mango. Now, there are a variety of opinions on mango slicing. I think the easiest way is to use a very sharp peeler and remove the skin, then slice the sides off, watching out for the weird, flat-ish pit, but getting as close to it as possible. When you have the two sides, you can slice it into cubes easily. The Roomz does a pretty solid number on them that involves slicing before peeling, and lots of people do it like an avocado. In my opinion, my way allows you to control the size and prettiness of the cubes the most, and wastes the least of the precious juicy mango. Check this out for various tutorials.
3. Slice avocado. Halve. Remove pit. Sliced into cubes. Scoop out with spoon.
4. Mix mangos and avocados and toss with lemon (or lime), salt, and pepper, to taste.
5. In skillet on high (no oil or anything), toast nuts, tossing/stirring frequently until fragrant. Cool and chop.
6. Assemble salads with a bottom layer of bulgur topped with prunes (they’re good! and the salad needs the sweet kick), then the avocado and mango, then the nuts. Drizzle with olive oil if you so desire. Or…haha, Tabasco…if you’re an incurable Texan.