The Great Asiago Caper

I’m not what you’d call an adventurous cook.  I suppose this is a good thing, since I did marry a man who thinks that Hawaiian pizza is exotic.

There are some people who will try anything — and everything — at least once.  I’ll try any flavor of icecream pretty much once, but that’s about it.  With the occasional French-Canadian or Italian recipe thrown in, I’m very traditional in my American food choices. And when it comes to strange and unfamiliar plants or meats (I’m pretty sure Tofu falls into both of those categories), I’ll stick with the safe foods I grew up with.  Like carrots.  Tomatoes.  Broccoli.

Cheeseburgers.

Kidding about the tofu, by the way.  When cooked just right (such as in a recipe that resembles the French-Canadian, Italian, or American foods I’m used to), it’s actually not that bad! 

But having recently obtained several new cookbooks, I’ve felt a rush of enthusiasm and even adventure when it comes to the meals I prepare. I’m finding myself considering recipes that I otherwise would have bypassed.  And for dinner over the past few weeks, the traditional was replaced with the unknown.

Like chilled couscous salad.

Nate has never liked couscous very much and can’t understand why anyone would want to eat pasta that had been cut to resemble barley.  If he wants pasta, he’ll eat pasta; if he wants barley, he’ll eat barley.  The whole concept and texture of couscous frustrates him.  Obviously, I’m partially to blame, as I’ve never really known how to cook it and usually leave it bland as a side dish.  (Except for that one time that I made it with apple juice and raisins, but I think he found that to be slightly traumatizing).

Personally, I’m happy with that (with bland couscous, not with a traumatized husband), because I think couscous is as fun to eat as it is to pronounce.  Conveniently, however, the couscous salad was served on a night that Nate was feeling particularly hungry, so he actually ate his entire plateful…. and seemed to almost enjoy it.

Hey, I’ll take that!  Maybe part of his interest was due to the fact that I had declared the dish to be ethnic, Moroccan inspired.  I have no idea what Moroccan food tastes like, to be honest; but if the food doesn’t taste American, then I’m pretty sure it can at least be considered ethnic.

Of course, even safe foods can become unfamiliar territory.  Take cheese, for example.  I thought that replacing my childhood love of Velveeta with Cabot, cheddar cheese was a step into the wild side.  But then recipes started to call for brie.  Chevre.   Roquefort.

Asiago.

I didn’t even know what Asiago tastes like, and here I was sprinkling it over a chilled pasta dish!  Now I know that it’s very similar to parmesan, just slightly less dry.  Yes, it’s quite yummy!

Oh, and am I the only one out there who had no idea what capers were? The pasta salad contained Asiago cheese and capers, so it was pretty much like bungee jumping and sky-diving on the same day. We’re getting crazy in here! 

As I was putting my grocery list together, I spent a good ten minutes discussing with Nate what capers even were.  Nate thought they were mushrooms, while I was convinced that they were a type of fish.  Turns out that they’re actually the buds from a plant, which are pickled in a vinegar brine.  Also turns out that one shouldn’t pop a handful into one’s mouth, because they don’t taste  anything like pickles or olives.  But rinsed, chopped, and carefully mixed into a pasta recipe they’re actually quite good.

So, yeah, things have taken a turn for the wild side.  I know, I know.  Since I’ve turned 30, I’ve totally gone crazy.  What will I do next??  😉

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8 thoughts on “The Great Asiago Caper”

  1. Haha!!! Loved this post. 😀 And I haven’t cooked with capers in so long but didn’t realize that they were the bud of a plant either (I guess I always thought they were like some sort of brined peppercorn or something!)

    Anyways, your pasta salad? Delicious! 😀

    1. You’d definitely like the chilled couscous salad too! The flavors were unlike anything I’ve eaten before… but it was actually quite good, once we got used to it. 🙂

  2. I grew up with a a fridge full of all different kinds of cheeses, so I know my cheese (at least, I know my Italian cheese) quite well. My dad still buys tonnes of different varieties of cheese and we always have a cheese plate at dinner so I love eating at his place.
    We’re big time cheese lovers, my grandmother, my dad, and me.

  3. Mmm, both those dishes look delicious!!

    I love cheese. Pretty much any kind. Including bleu which totally grosses Kevin out. I also like capers – like you said – in salads. They are certainly strong!

    This post had me cracking up. Love it!

  4. Oooh look at you being super adventurous! I actually had no idea what capers were until a couple of years ago when Rachael Ray used them on her show that I used to watch religiously, haha! I still haven’t used them, though, so you’re ahead of me there! 😉

  5. I love all the different cheeses. My grocery store does a wine and cheese tour around the store. Also, I have used capers a couple times, but it’s been a while. I know it has been a while because I found the half full container in my fridge a couple months ago that had gone way past its expiration date. 🙂

  6. Oooh I love capers, but my husband hates them. Maybe if I chop them up and put them in some pasta he won’t even know. Yay for adventurous!

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