october unprocessed 2011-- heirloom tomato salad with lemon mint vinaigrette on middle eastern spiced rice cakes

meatless monday
notes from maggie's farm

At the beginning of the month, we joined 2750 people (as of today) who are joining the October Unprocessed, 2011 bandwagon.  Andrew Wilder of the blog Eating Rules threw down the gauntlet--eat no processed foods for 31 days.  You know what we do when challenged--we say, sure!  If you can do it, we can do it.  (With a few reasonable and deliberate exceptions that's we'll share below.)

So, a little bit about the challenge, in Andrew's own words: 

"In October of 2009, I was struck by a simple idea:  What would happen if I went for an entire month without eating any processed foods?  This question would have been laughable (rather, nonsensical) just a few decades ago. Nowadays, it seems that almost every food that comes with an ingredients list on it is likely to be laden with extra sugar, fat, and salt.  And preservatives.  And flavorings.  And artificial colors. I’m not okay with this.
So I tried it, along with a few good friends: A month of no processed foods."

Andrew's Eating Rules for this challenge, his working definition of 'unprocessed foods' , or in his own words, The Kitchen Test:
Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with readily available, whole-food ingredients.
And our rules:  (Eating Rules encourages this, as you see:  
"Maybe you’re not comfortable with my definition of “unprocessed.” That’s okay, too. Decide what it means to you and take the pledge on your terms")
1.  Three meals per week are unrestricted.  We do a lot of travel and socializing over food.  
2.  Be reasonable.  Our own desire is to eat food in it's healthiest state, without additives.
3.  Be flexible.  We'll still be sharing lots of different recipes with you this month that are in their healthiest state.  We'll probably throw in a few 'treats' too.  You know we're going to have to taste them.  Because we're dedicated, you know.
This meatless monday dish was no selfless sacrifice of the unprocessed variety on our part.  It's a favorite way to showcase a treasure more valuable than gold--heirloom tomatoes.

 heirloom tomato salad with lemon mint vinaigrette on middle eastern spiced baked rice cakes
for salad, you will need:

3 medium to large heirloom tomatoes
1 small red onion
one bunch fresh mint, de-stemmed
3/4 c extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon (to taste)
zest of lemon
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp fleur de sel (unprocessed salt)

In a blender of food processor, combine mint leaves, juice and zest of lemon, garlic, pepper, and fleur de sel.  Process until finely minced.  As blender or processor runs, add oil, a few drops at a time at first, and then in a light stream, blending until oil is fully incorporated.  Adjust seasonings.

Slice tomatoes roughly 1/4" thick and layer with thinly sliced red onion rings.  Spoon dressing over, making certain to drizzle between overlapping slices.  Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, but no longer than 2 hours.

As salad marinates, prepare rice cakes.

middle eastern spiced baked rice cakes

you will need:
2 cups brown basmati rice, cooked
1/2 c raw milk cheese, we used our homemade ricotta
2 whole eggs
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp fleur de sel
1/4 cup loosely chopped parsley
2 tsp lemon zest

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.  Oil 4 individual ramekins, and pack with rice mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or just until browning begins. (you should notice a little bubbling).  Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes.  Unmold on serving plates.  Serve warm, or at room temperature.
Top rice cake with marinated cold heirloom tomato salad.  Drizzle dressing over.

We hope you enjoy this as much as we do!  We usually double the batch and enjoy leftovers.  With all due respect to the spirit of meatless monday, we'd be remiss if we didn't tell you that this heirloom tomato salad makes an absolute masterpiece when topping a juicy hamburger.  

Join us tomorrow on tips for tuesday for another October Unprocessed Challenge-- Homemade Mayonnaise.

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