I've been trying to cook more and different vegetables for all the reasons you're supposed to, but I'm also discovering that vegetables are annoying. You have to buy them, keep them fresh, use them up in time, and then chop, pit, peel, seed, roast, or grill them. I took a knife skills class last year to make things easier, but I still find it all a bit onerous.
Besides, after all that, you still only have one component of a meal; you can't just eat roasted carrots for dinner and call it good. (I mean, I could, but I don't want to.)
Eric and I both work and have a decent amount of stuff going on in our lives. Most days it's much easier to make a sandwich and a side salad, or grill a hunk of meat and wrap a tortilla around it.
I saw this book recently, and it seemed like something that would make vegetables exciting and therefore worth the trouble, so I bought it. It's beautiful; I spent the weekend salivating over the pictures and making shopping lists.
Finally, I settled on two recipes: a beet and preserved lemon salad and a cold soba noodle and eggplant dish. We already had preserved lemons (they are really easy; you should make some!), and it's damn hot outside, so cold anything sounded amazing.
I bought the ingredients, and in my excitement to start blowing through the book, made a rookie mistake: cooking two labor-intensive dishes for the first time at the same time.
Not pictured: three cutting boards full of various herbs, garlic, peppers, and onions; saucepan full of dressing; puddle of lime juice on the floor; two begging-ass dogs.
Eric and I used pretty much every pot we had and trashed the kitchen. It got a little stressful at times, and I kept having to remind myself that this was supposed to be fun. And it was, mostly.
The food turned out pretty well. Both dishes were bright and flavorful, well suited to a hot night.
No, really, preserved lemons are great.
Like most dishes with a lot of strong, disparate flavors, the food tasted even better the next day, too, but it still wasn't quite what I'd been hoping for, given the amount of effort involved in each dish. Maybe it would have helped if we'd adjusted a few things to taste--more heat would have been welcome, for example--but I usually try to follow a recipe closely the first time through.
Anyway, I'm nowhere near ready to give up on vegetables just yet. I'm pinning all my hopes and dreams on the tart that uses three whole heads of garlic, especially now that I know the nifty garlic peeling trick.