All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012
OK – ever get a little carried away at the farmer’s market or even just a random produce aisle – because everything looked so vibrant & delicious or maybe because you were planning on living a healthier & more plant-based-diet lifestyle? Ever find yourself throwing away one item after another as they go bad at their own rates because either 1) you were fucking kidding yourself & you ate Lean Cuisines & frozen pizza all week or 2) you ended up going out to eat more than you anticipated or 3) you just bought so Goddamn much – even a family of yaks couldn’t have gotten through it all?
Me, too. And, I don’t know about you, but I’m not jump-starting my stove pilots with burning hundred dollar bills. Throwing away a $3 avocado or one of those $40 (not really) vine-ripe bullshit tomatoes from one of our “finer” grocers – like Whole “Paycheck” Foods or Gelson’s or your own local way-too-expensive market – really blows! Watching the broccoli lose its color or the spinach get greener (meaning – getting all dark & soggy & funky gross) and your romaine turn to soup – really sucks. I’ve eaten things, folks, and this is fucking TRUE, that I convinced myself were OK to eat because I’d read (in The Diary of Anne Frank) about the molded & otherwise sub par produce etc that Anne Frank had been forced to eat and it wasn’t the food in that Annex that killed her, was it? No, it wasn’t. In case you want to challenge me. And, by the way, that diary of hers will humble you. What an incredible kid. You should read it if you haven’t – and read it again, if you have.
Look at the energy in that kid’s face. Ugh. 😦
Anyway – the fact is – most of us are pretty spoiled & far too fussy about what we consider edible…..yet we eat the infected death McDonald’s serves without batting an eyelash. Ever found a two year old McD’s French Fry in the back seat of your car? It is still a totally pristine French Fry. Hard? Sure. But not a hint of the hideous mold my week-old, raw green beans – in the fridge – displayed this morning.
Anyway – eventually – even WWII fetishists have to admit some stuff is beyond edible. I found myself just today – faced making some very hard decisions. Sadly sage-green-colored broccoli, wilting asparagus, spinach threatening to join the liquid romaine & the aforementioned green beans that I was forced to toss. Brussels sprouts were staring out at me, guilting me, every time I opened the fridge and pretended I wasn’t seeing a bunch of vegetables on the cusp of dying for nothing. Lives squandered because I felt the need to make my last two meals out of a can of petroleum-based nacho cheese sauce, canned jalapenos & homemade corn chips (or home fried – so there was THAT concession to avoiding toxic waste). Do not try that at home, kids. A day spent eating nothing but that gelatinous, movie theater nacho cheese sauce from a can – and a can & a half of pickled jalapenos does things to one’s innards that it takes TRAINING to survive.
I was determined to save these poor vegetative beings from a fate of total waste. “Hmmmmm….hmmmmm,” I thought, scratching my beard. “I’ll make BLENDED food out of them,” I decided. No pressure now to look pretty on a plate, to maintain an “al dente” texture, to look crisp & healthy & expensive. No! I will make HUMMUS! And hummus I made. Four ways. Actually – two ways. The third & fourth are more of a mousse or pate – suited to pita – but BETTER SUITED to a bruschetta (crostini), a pizza base or a pasta!
Know that my veggies were not spoiled – but they were headed that way. Look at the pathetic, under-saturated color of this broccoli and then those poor spouts & some asparagus – losing their religion:
But a little roasting – a little steaming – and/or a little sauteing – watch that shit come back to life!
Yes – olive oil, garlic & a little heat puts the pink back in their cheeks, lemme tell you.
So – without further ado – let me spell out what I made & how I made it. A food processor or other motorized blending tool is critical here.
HUMMUS – four ways. Kinda.
(3 cups or so)
15 oz can chick peas
4 garlic cloves (less if you don’t LOVE garlic)
4 cups fresh spinach – packed
1/4 cup tahini sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup water (less or more – depending how thick you like your hummus)
1-3 TBS olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Blend. Yup. Blend. Add the water in increments until you get our desired consistency. That’s it. You gotta love hummus! Serve with HOMEMADE PITA.
15 oz can chick peas
4 garlic cloves (less – or more – to taste)
juice of 1/2 lemon
4 TBS olive oil
1/4 cup tahini sauce
2 TBS (or more) Harissa paste
1 TBS tomato paste (or puree)
Cayenne pepper – a pinch
S&P to taste
Blend the chick peas with 2 TBS of the olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and S&P to taste.
In a separate bowl – whisk the harissa, tomato puree & the last TBS olive oil.
Transfer your hummus to a serving bowl & drizzle with the harissa sauce. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper. Serve!
Serve with HOMEMADE PITA.
This Broccoli Pesto – and the Brussels Sprouts one – are better served as a bruschetta or crostini than with pita. They would also toss very well with cooked pasta or serve as a nice base for a pizza. Go EASY on the salt with these two.
Roasted Broccoli Mousse
15 oz can WHITE BEANS (or chick peas – I suppose. But this is a cannellini or other white bean recipe)
1/2 lb roasted broccoli (recipe – ingredients & directions – below)
6 garlic cloves (roasted with the broccoli)
1 tsp lemon juice
zest of half a lemon
1/4 cup tahini sauce
S&P to taste
Blend it all (including the ROASTED broccoli from below) in a food processor. Voila!
1/2 pound broccoli (the same as above – not additionally)
1 TBS crushed red pepper
6 (or less) garlic cloves (the same as above – not additionally)
2 TBS olive oil
scant pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
In a bowl – toss the broccoli florets, red pepper, olive oil, whole garlic & salt. Stir to coat the florets. Arrange the broccoli on a parchment paper-lined cooking sheet being sure to keep each floret from touching the others….otherwise you will get more of a steamed broccoli than the roasted variety you want here. Roast for 20 minutes or so (they should look a bit charred) & remove from the oven to blend with the remaining ingredients above.
This is best served on toasted bread (crostini) or mixed sparingly with pasta & served with extra Parmesan. It also works instead of tomato sauce as a pizza layer.
Brussels Sprouts & Asparagus Mousse
2-3 inch cube of feta cheese
1/2 cup TOASTED nuts – pine or pecan or walnut or almond – your call. I used pecans. I’m terrified of PINE MOUTH and avoid pine nuts at all costs.
1/2 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves
10-15 Brussels Sprouts – depending on their size
6 Asparagus spears – tough ends broken away (video tutorial HERE)
1 bunch Italian parsley
1/2 cup white wine (or water)
zest of 1/2 large lemon
Halve the Brussels Sprouts & boil them for three minutes. Add the asparagus & boil another minute. Drain. Heat some oil in a frying pan & saute the sprouts & asparagus until the sprouts begin to brown. Remove from heat.
In your food processor – blend all the ingredients – including your warmed veggies.
Again – this is best served on toasted bread (crostini) or mixed sparingly with pasta & served with extra Parmesan. It also works instead of tomato sauce as a pizza layer.