I’ve taken an unexpected break from blogging, partially by choice and partially not. I’ve been developing and testing recipes for cooking demos I plan to do at the upcoming annual ISNA convention here in Chicago. I’m also working on articles for Sister’s Extra, the new blog of the lovely Sister’s Magazine. I’m also testing halal Thai recipes for my monthly contribution to MB Muslima online magazine.
Those things have kept me physically busy, but what has kept me mentally occupied is the Gulf oil disaster. Ever since it happened, I’ve struggled to look at food in the same way as before. I knew that as a global community we had issues with food sources, food and water safety and distribution, but this? This is something I’ve only seen in my worst nightmare.
I have a hard time watching scenes from the disaster. I think of all the lives affected- the people whose livelihoods depend on a healthy Gulf and the marine and wildlife in the Gulf itself: birds, sea turtles, dolphins, shrimp, crayfish, just to name a few.
I realize it’s a mess that’s probably going to be on my mind for years to come and as such, it’s been a bit hard for me to think about food, particularly seafood. Just looking through cookbooks, reading delectable recipes for shrimp, scallops, and other dishes that would normally come from the Gulf, is a bit sad. Will we ever be able to enjoy this food again? Will our children ever be able to taste it?
Well, wherever there is a dark side, there is also a bright one. I stepped outside onto my balcony garden and took a glimpse at the absolutely beautiful things growing out there, mash’allah. I decided it was time to look very local for our next meal. Growing outside I had baby lettuce, arugula, mint, cilantro, parsley, nasturtium flowers, chives, strawberries and more. I had also purchased lovely radishes and red scallions from the Park Ridge Farmer’s Market. This was definitely enough enough for a plate for two.
It turned out not just delicous, but beautiful, too. And, I have hope that one day, insha’allah, we’ll be able to have it again- with a side of Gulf shrimp…
Summer Mediterranean Salad with Citrus, Dates & Nasturtium Flowers
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt, to taste
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
1 navel orange, peeled and roughly chopped
7 Deglet Noor dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 English cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and cucumber thinly sliced
1/8 cup jumbo golden raisins
1/8 cup red radishes, julienned
1/4 cup carrots, julienned or shredded
juice of one lemon
nasturtium flower petals
1. At the bottom of your salad bowl, drizzle the olive oil and add the salt.
2. Next, add everything except the lemon juice and nasturtium flowers.
3. Just before serving, squeeze the lemon juice and mix all ingredients together, scooping up the oil and salt and mixing it thoroughly with everything.
4. Decorate with whole nasturtium petals for a beautiful (and edible) presentation.
*Nasturtium petals are completely edible. They come in a variety of colors like yellow and deep orange. Just be sure to buy certified organic ones or make sure yours have not been in contact with any toxic pesticides or chemicals. The leaves and stems are also edible, but I have not included them in this recipe.