Freshman Feast: Fresh Food in a Frosh Home
I looked hopelessly at the result of my first few days of food shopping. At my feet I had a large bag of groceries that included salt and pepper, four different types of vegetables, and pita bread. I also had limes. What did I think I was going to do with limes?
Having just begun my first year at Wesleyan, I was aching to do all of the things that would make me feel at home. This meant spending nearly an hour walking up and down the aisles of Weshop, poring over the different spices, exclaiming over the jug of balsamic vinegar, and staring with confusion at what seemed to be a shallot dispenser. However, now that I had satisfied my immediate need for tomato sauce and obscure fruit, I had a new problem looming before me: there was too much perishable food to fit into my mini-fridge.
The only reasonable solution was to eat it. This meant venturing to the newly opened kitchen in Butt A (pronounced “butter” in my head). Immediately, I felt like a member of Food Network’s show “Chopped,” where the contestants are given unrelated ingredients and told to produce a dish worthy of world-class food experts. In addition to the essentials of salt, pepper, and olive oil, my mystery box contained the previously mentioned pita, the limes, plus spinach, a red pepper, and somewhat defrosted corn kernels—incidentally, frozen corn tastes fantastic by itself.
Inspired by one of my Food Network favorites, I decided to make a bean and corn salad for a pita bread sandwich filling. The recipe below can be altered based on the ingredients and appliances you have on hand. If you have a stovetop, I would recommend sautéing the onion, and heating the other filling ingredients before serving warm into the spinach- or arugula-filled pita pockets.
By no standard was this meal elegantly prepared. The cabinets and shelves of the kitchen were empty, so I mixed the ingredients in my small plastic cereal bowl, used a paper bag as a cutting board, and placed the sandwich on a plate adorned with cartoon bees. I cut the limes open with the X-Acto knife I had used to open boxes on move-in day. However unorthodox the preparation, the end result was something colorful and savory. The sharpness of the arugula and the acidity of the limes were tempered by the sweetness of the corn and the pepper. The chili powder gave the dish cohesion and a subtle kick.
One meal down, but many more to come. Welcome to college.
Mixed Bean Pita Sandwich
4 pita bread pockets
2 lightly packed cups spinach
1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, diced
1 Bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 lime, juiced
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
Directions (makes four sandwiches):
1. Evenly distribute the spinach among the four pita pockets.
2. Mix the black beans, chickpeas, onion, pepper, and corn in a medium bowl.
3. Combine the lime juice, chili powder, salt, and pepper, and then add to the vegetables. Evenly coat the vegetables with lime dressing, and then drain any excess liquid.
4. Scoop the filling into the spinach-filled pita pockets. Be careful not to overfill the pockets, or you might find yourself with a soggy sandwich.