With our wacky summer-like temperatures this past week breaking records more than once, it may seem out of sync to post a pot pie recipe. And even though I first made this a few weeks ago, we’ve been enjoying it regularly since then. I like to think of it as my final nod to the winter weather that never really materialized here in Toronto. Yep, 2012 will go down in the annals of DDD as The Best Toronto Winter Ricki Has Ever Experienced. Barely any snow. An abundance of brilliant sunshine. Thermometer reading above above freezing almost every day.
And this pot pie.
When I was a kid, pot pie was most decidedly not on the menu. An avid TV watcher back then, I used to fantasize that my mom would one day cook it for us, perhaps rolling pastry while decked out in pearls and a pinstriped apron à la June Cleaver. With her tailored blouse and perfectly shellacked, upswept bouffant hair, my mother would proffer a huge Corningware casserole that she gripped on each side with blue quilted oven mitts. She’d set the dish just so on a silver trivet on the dining room table, lift the cover with a flourish as a burst of steam escaped. My father, still in his shirt and tie (never mind that in reality he was a butcher whose attire consisted of blood-stained apron and grease) would reach eagerly to dole out portions to my sisters and me as we sat waiting calmly for our mom to join us. Then we’d all nibble demurely for the next hour or so, the clink of silver on bone china the only background to our lively dinner conversation.
In the real world, pot pie proved far too daunting for my mother. While an avid baker, she never mastered pastry (the only pies my mother ever baked had crumb crusts, or crusts that my Aunty M made and delivered to us). As a result, pot pie was never something she attempted (and besides, her hair was too fine and thin to support that updo, anyway). Instead, the closest we ever got to pot pie was patty shells–or, as we knew them growing up in Montreal, vol-au-vent.
Whenever Mom returned from the supermarket with a box of patty shells, we girls knew we were in for a special treat. She’d transfer the shells to a cookie sheet and pop them in the oven, then set about heating a can of undiluted (a crucial detail) Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup on the stovetop. Ten minutes later, the shells were ready and my sisters and I would each grab one on our way to the kitchen table, where we squirmed impatiently until my mother grabbed the soup pot by the handle (she used a kitchen towel instead of a pot holder) and, her housedress spattered with soup, shuffled over to the table and ladled some of the sauce over each pastry. Before she made it back to the stove, my sisters and I had already demolished the shells and were stuffing the creamy goo-coated peas and carrots into our mouths.
Ah, nothing like a classic dinner.
Well, maybe it’s my anticipation of Mad Men’sreturn to the airwaves this Sunday, but I had a hankering for a pot pie. Though perhaps not quite as quick and easy as the patty shells, this variation is also nowhere nearly as complicated as my imaginary 1960s version, either. Taking a cue from my friend Kelly, I created a crumble topping that requires absolutely no rolling or fluting of pie crust. The filling is a simple combination of sautéed vegetables and chickpeas (browning the garbanzos deepens the savory characteristic of the beans while softening the texture for a perfect addition to this filling). Add a quick and simple creamy sauce, bake in a casserole dish and–voilà!–a latter day pot pie that won’t stress you out.
Feel free to wear your hair any way you like when you serve it.
Chickpea Pot Pie (Suitable for ACD Stage 2 and beyond)
Forget about pie crust–this pot pie with a super-simple crumble crust is the ultimate comfort food. And so easy! The chickpeas add protein and bulk so you’ll feel pleasantly full and satisfied.
For the Filling:
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cups (240 ml) cooked chickpeas (about one large can–19 oz or 540 ml)
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut oil, preferably organic, chilled
1/4 cup (60 ml) plain unsweetened soy or almond milk
Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Grease a casserole dish with coconut oil or spray with nonstick spray and set aside.
In a large nonstick frypan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the carrots, onion, celery and chickpeas. Sauté until the onions are translucent and the chickpeas just begin to brown, 10-12 minutes. Stir in the parsley and dill and turn off heat.
Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a medium pot, melt the coconut oil withthe rice flour over medium-low heat. Cook and stir for a minute or two, then slowly whisk in about 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the milk until well blended. Add the other 1/2 cup (120 ml) and whisk to blend. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth; turn off heat. Add the vegetables to the sauce in the pot and stir gently just to coat them; pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
Make the crumble topping: In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt. Break the coconut oil into small pieces and scatter it over the flour, then pinch the mixture between your thumb and fingers until crumbly and all the oil is incorporated. Drizzle with the milk and toss with a fork until it comes together in a moist, crumbly mixture.
Scatter the crumble mixture evenly over the vegetables in the casserole. Bake in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, until the biscuits are lightly browned on top and the filling is bubbling at the sides. Makes 4-6 servings. May be frozen.
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Can I tell you a secret? But you have to swear you won’t tell anyone.
This particular secret involves a clandestine, middle-of-the-night meeting in an abandoned field; secret code names; the removal of clothing; and a vow never to tell another soul.
Oh, and three cans of neon yellow paint.
(And I bet you thought you knew where I was going with this one, didn’t you?)
Allow me to explain. As a middle child in our family, I exhibited the typical middle-child traits: I was quiet, a peacemaker, and always tried to please everyone. Middle kids don’t ruffle feathers. They don’t make waves. They’re the “good girls” (well, except for the boys, that is, who I’m guessing are “good boys.”). In other words, they don’t break the rules.
But being the perennial ”good girl” can sometimes become tiresome. Sometimes, you want to break loose and do something wildly out of character. Maybe skip school and have a little adventure like Ferris Beuller. Maybe just pick up and move to Australia*. Or maybe even say “what the heck“** and take that leap like Joel in Risky Business.
That’s why, though I’d never done anything even remotely similar before, I was inspired to call the HH up for a date after we’d met at a party the previous weekend (seems to have turned out okay in the end).
That’s why, one evening in university after I’d just called my friend Babe to wish her a happy birthday and sat studying in my dorm room, I turned to my study buddy Elaine and asked, “Hey, do you want to drive to London tonight to visit Babe?” We arrived just before 10:00 PM, Babe squealed with surprise and delight when she saw us, we shared hugs and a bottle of wine, and we found ourselves back at the dorm around 2:00 AM (just in time to finish studying before our test the next morning).
That’s why, when I first learned that Ellen DeGeneres had eschewed refined sugar (after being vegan for a couple of years), I thought, “Wow! The treats in my cookbook would be perfect for her!” and mounted a twitter and blog campaign to serve healthy, vegan, sugar-free desserts to Ellen and her studio audience on her show (so far, it’s turned not too badly , but I’m still waiting for that invitation–feel free to send her a message and ask her to have me on the show!).
And that’s why, when one of my best friends in high school thought it would be a good idea for our group of “goody-goody” girl friends to leave our mark (literally) on our high school, I said, “okay, what the heck.”
Which is how the six of us ended up meeting one night under cover of darkness, changed into sweatpants and sweatshirts, and sneaked into our abandoned-for-the-summer schoolyard. We pried open the cans of neon yellow paint and drew the largest characters we could muster, as high as our arms would stretch , emblazoning the words, ”GRADS 76″ on the brick wall before we ran off into the night, whispering and giggling.
We made our way back to the schoolyard innumerable times throughout the summer to admire our handiwork. Of course, no one ever suspected that we were the culprits–after all, we were such “good girls.” (Oops. I guess the cat’s out of the bag, now. But you have to promise not to tell anyone else. ).
Although the SOS Challenge doesn’t require you to submit both sweet and savory recipes (so please don’t feel obliged to do so), as my final submission to this month’s rhubarb challenge, I wanted to provide our star veggie with an outlet for something a little out of character. Shrug off the pies and crumbles and muffins, Little Rhubarb, and head over to the savory side of things! A quick search on the internet revealed a few Indian-inspired dishes, but I wanted to highlight the characteristic most prominent in our featured stalks: the sourness. I decided to create a vegan variation on a typical Chinese sweet-and-sour dish, using rhubarb to confer the “sour.”
The result was a little unusual, but pleasing nonetheless. The tart rhubarb is tempered somewhat by the sweetness of the stevia, and the chilis provide a subtle heat that seems to bring out the individual flavors. Chickpeas contribute the protein here, but tofu would seem an obvious choice next time I give this dish a try. Served over cooked millet, it was a satisfying supper for both of us.
So go ahead, try something a little different. It will be our little secret.
* I actually almost did move to Australia, once. I had arranged a teaching exchange with another teacher in the Land Down Under. All the papers were in place, the jobs approved, and the only thing left to do was purchase the steamer trunk. Sadly, once the other instructor learned the cost of renting an apartment in Toronto, she backed out of the deal.
** No, Joel didn’t actually say, “what the heck.” His particular four-letter term was a little more colorful than that. But this is a G-rated blog, folks
2 Tbsp (30 ml) fresh chopped cilantro, for garnish
In a small saucepan, combine the water and Bragg’s. Remove about 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the liquid to a small bowl, and add the potato starch to the bowl. Stir to mix well. Set aside.
To the pot, add the rhubarb, red pepper, garlic, ginger, lemon zest and chili flakes, and bring to boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and allow to simmer until the rhubarb begins to break up. Add the chipeas and stevia to taste. Stir the liquid in the bowl again and slowly add it to the chickpea mixture, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Stir for another 30 seconds. To serve, ladle over cooked grain of your choice; sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Makes 4-6 servings. May be frozen.
This recipe is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, a fabulous event started by Susan at the Well Seasoned Cook and this month hosted by Diana at Spain in Iowa.
The Question Question: Before I sign off today, I wanted thank everyone who responded to my query in my earlier post. Your responses were fairly split on the issue of whether or not to include questions at the end of blog posts: the final verdict seems to be, “if they develop naturally from the content of the post, they’re okay.” Of course, I’d never pose a question that had nothing to do with the post (except, um, for that first question). On the other hand, many of you suggested that you’d simply not comment at all if the question didn’t appeal to you.
Well, comments are one of my favorite aspects of blogging (both reading them and leaving them on other blogs), and I do enjoy the interaction they encourage. I’m also all for the recent types of comment sections that allow individual commenters to respond to each other (and I will have to install those–not on the blog right now). So I’ve decided to incorporate questions only occasionally, and see what happens. And even if you’re not keen on the questions, please do continue to comment on the blog post itself!
This month’s SOS (Sweet or Savory) Kitchen Challenge asked readers to whip up dishes with spinach, and wow, did you ever take on this challenge with gusto! We received a dozen fantastic, creative recipes to try that all highlight the super-healthy leafy green. And yes, a few desserts are included as well!
Thanks to everyone who entered the challenge this month. As always, if you’ve submitted a recipe and I forgot to include it here, please let me know asap so I can add it to the list.
Here’s what’s on the menu with spinach:
THE SAVORY CONTRIBUTIONS:
Our very first entry was from Janet at Taste Space (Toronto) –a colorful and delicious Quinoa and Butternut Squash Spinach Salad with Cranberry and Pear. Well, I think the title tells you everything you need to know–doesn’t that just sound delectable? This savory salad is also a bit sweet with the pear and cranberries. Suitable for gluten free, vegan, sugar free, egg free and dairy free diets.
Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes (Dundee, Scotland) offers up a great recipe for Spicy Spinach and Potato Curry adapted from a recipe she found in one huge tome of a cookbook. Her pics look great (and check out the gratuitious cuteness of her new baby, Cooper!) This recipe is suitable for gluten free, soy-free, vegan, and ACD diets (contains coconut milk).
Kiersten from Full of Beans (Charlotte, NC )’s vegan Coconut Curried Chickpeas and Spinach looks like the perfect quick weekday dinner. I love a good curry, and with chickpeas AND spinach, you can’t go wrong with this one! Vegan, soy-free, gluten free, ACD-friendly and otherwise nut-free.
She also “uncooked” some gorgeously green Spinach-Hemp Flatbreads on which to spread it. Unlike many other dehydrated flatbreads, these remain soft, perfect for sandwiches. These both are vegan, dairy free, gluten free, raw, and sugar free.
Mom at the Gluten-Free Edge (Georgetown, Texas) decided that her Spinach Mushroom Pie should undergo a vegan revamp for this month’s entry! This is her remake of a long-time favorite recipe, and it worked out beautifully. The recipe is gluten free and vegan.
Chaya from The Comfy Cook is back this month with a fabulous Oriental Rice Pizza. This savory dish is filled with veggies and is a snap to make with its rice-based crust. It’s gluten free, sugar free and dairy free.
Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe (Melbourne, Australia) offers a cheezy spinach-based soup this month with her Pumpkin, Bean and Spinach Soup. While the recipe itself looks delicious, half the fun of the recipe is Johanna’s recounting of the experimentation that led her to it. And doesn’t the concept of tofu croutons just sound fabulous?
Valerie of City Life Eats (Washington, DC) has created a Lemony Spinach Pepita Pesto. With a unique combination of ingredients, this pesto would be delicious on more than just pasta. It’s gluten free, vegan, nut free, sugar free and ACD-friendly.
Aubree Cherie, who blogs at Living Free (Kennett Square, PA), decided to move out of her usual spinach zone with these Almond Spinach Biscuits. A great savory biscuit with a hint of sweet (dried cranberries), these treats were gobbled up by her significant other in no time. Definitely a fun (and delicious) recipe. Gluten free, sugar free, vegan and ACD-friendly.
My event partner, Kim at Affairs of Living, cooked up a fabulous Creamy Spinach and Celeriac Soup for those days when you crave something rich and healthy at the same time. The recipe is vegan, gluten free, sugar free, ACD friendly, soy free and nut free.
My savory contribution this month is a Classic Tofu Quiche recipe that I’ve had for years but never thought to post. The millet crust helps to make it quick, easy, and delicious! It’s gluten free, sugar free and vegan.
THE SWEET CONTRIBUTIONS (Yes, even spinach has a sweet side!):
Rachel from My Munchable Musings (WA) treated us to two sweet recipes this month! First up are these Spring Picnic Cupcakes, her take on the classic Strawberry and Spinach Salad–in a sweet mini confection! She’s also included a great bit of additional history and nutritional information about spinach here. These are wheat free, sugar free and vegan.
Rachel also created these adorable Green Thumb Print Cookies, that are gluten free! I love how the strawberry sits perfectly in the thumb print–seriously yummy looking. These are gluten free, sugar free and vegan.
Kim’s second contribution this month is her Invisible Spinach Smoothie. While you may have enjoyed smoothies with spinach before, this quick and easy recipe contains another veggie that you might not expect. Vegan, ACD-friendly, gluten free.
Finally, my sweet contribution is this Green Monster Muffin. Based on the concept of green smoothies, these muffins offer up spinach in a slightly sweet, hearty breakfast baked good. I’ve used chopped apples, but you could add in raisins or even chocolate chips to the mix if you like. Vegan, sugar free, gluten free.
Thanks again to everyone who played along this month. Enjoy these recipes until next month, when Kim–our hostess for June’s Challenge–will announce the new SOS ingredient.
Yesterday afternoon, I called the HH at work and proposed. (No, no, silly, not that kind of proposal! We are quite content with our “been there, done that, never going to be legally married again” status, thank you.) What I proposed was this: “HH, I just noticed that Joan Rivers is performing live tonight at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga. Would you like to go?”
And lo and behold, the HH said, “YES.”
Now, why is that scenario so surprising? Well, for two reasons. First, the HH actually said, “yes.” But more remarkable was my own invitation in the first place–my impulsive decision to attend the show.
You see, I’m a Libra.
One of the defining traits of Libras (or so the HH, my astrological expert, informs me) is indecisiveness. As the only sign represented by an inanimate object (the scales), Libras’ minds are like teeter-totters alternating between two nearly-equal entities: first, all the weight falls to one side; then it shifts and all the weight moves to the other end. Meanwhile, the poor Libra keeps vacillating between the two: Should I wear the black shoes? They match my black turtleneck. Then again, the brown shoes pick up that brown stripe in my pants. And the brown shoes are more comfortable. But the black shoes look better. Of course, the brown shoes are more sturdy, and I’ll be walking on cobblestones. Still, the black shoes were less expensive, so it won’t matter if they get a little worn out. . . .
You see my point. (Well, maybe you don’t. But then again, maybe you do. But you might not.)
This propensity to shift between alternatives can also manifest itself as an “all or nothing” mentality–in other words, Libras choose either one extreme end of the seesaw or the other. For example, I might spend an entire day creating a single pepperoni pizza, counterbalanced by some über quick Mex-Ital tofu scramble the next. Or I’ll while away the better part of an afternoon playing with Vanilla vs. Vanilla (muffins vs. cupcakes), even whipping up my own sour cream for the experiment–then ditch the complexity for quick and foolproof LaRaw Bars (Cocoa Nibbles), effectively made with only 3 ingredients.
Unfortunately for me, this “all-or-nothing” habit extends to eating, as well. I’m one of those people who, when I indulge in sweets, feels compelled to consume the entire batch at once (which explains why I haven’t made my fudge in a while. Though I did try out Kim’s healthier black bean version instead. Nope, pretty much wanted to eat that entire batch, too.)
I’m not sure why, but the culinary balance seems to have shifted to “simple” once again. Could it be that I spent so much of the past few days attempting a “cheese”-filled, gluten free, ACD-friendly bread recipe that my kitchen is now permanently coated in a patina of amaranth flour? Or perhaps it’s that my holiday from the college has encouraged recent marathon sessions in front of the TV (am I the only one who’s disappointed with Ellen on Idol? Or is she actually as noncomittal and insipid as she seems to me? And will Jack and Carly get back together–again? And how about that Liz Lemon? And why am I so jazzed to watch the Oscars when I haven’t seen any of the movies?). Or maybe it’s that I finally started working on the puzzle the HH got me for Christmas and I’ve spent far too many hours hunched over the card table, scrutinizing scalloped pieces of cardboard for subtle shifts in hue from black to grey to tan. Too many “all” activities, perhaps?
Whatever the reason, lately I’ve opted for quick and easy. And I found this wonderful recipe in–of all places–Vegan Yum Yum, the cookbook based on the blog of the same name by Lauren Ulm. Now, if you’re familiar with Lauren’s blog, you know that many of her recipes appear quite elaborate, or even intimidating (Knit Night Cupcakes, anyone?). That’s why I was totally delighted to discover that there are more than a few straightforward, simple recipes in the book–and this artichoke salad is a stellar example.
While the original employs marinated artichokes (my assumption, as it’s not specified), I adapted the recipe for the ACD and added my own seasonings. Made with staples already in most pantries, this deceptively simple salad is anything but simple in flavor and texture. Browning the chickpeas adds a slightly nutty undertone, balanced nicely by the acidity of the lemon and artichokes (and I’m all about balance). As I scooped up the first forkful, I wondered if the recipe was perhaps too basic for a blog entry. But then I found myself returning to it again and again–even, in fact, after I’d already packed the leftovers in a container and placed them in the fridge. It was that good.
Lauren notes that the salad serves four, or “one as a meal,” which is how it turned out for me. Well, I suppose it only made sense: I had to eat it all–or nothing.
”Mum, dogs don’t have an ‘all or nothing’ mentality, you know. It’s more like, ‘all or everything.’”
With chickpeas in a co-starring role here, I’m submitting this to Lisa and Jacqueline‘s No Croutons Required event for March. This month’s host is Lisa and the theme is soups or salads made with chickpeas. The event runs until March 20, so there’s still time to enter if you’d like to participate!
Blog Note: I finally completed updating the “Blogs I Read” page. I know there are also lots of blogs I may have missed, so if you have a blog that fits into one of the listed categories, please let me know. I’d love to check it out!
Warm Chickpea and Artichoke Salad (ACD Phase I and beyond)
To render the salad ACD-friendly, I used canned artichoke hearts, which are not marinated. The flavors also develop as it sits, so the salad is even better the next day. If you’re not following an anti-candida regime, however, you might like to try this with the jarred, marinated hearts and eliminate the herbs and garlic for an easier and more intensely flavored salad.
5 Tbsp (75 ml) extra virgin olive oil, divided
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp (10 ml) dried basil, or use 1-2 Tbsp (15-30 ml) fresh, finely chopped
1 tsp (5 ml) dried oregano
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt, or more, to taste
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) cooked chickpeas, well drained (canned are fine; rinse well before using)
6-8 artichoke hearts (about one large can), drained and sliced lengthwise
1/3 cup (55 g) natural almonds with skin, coarsely chopped
In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together 3 Tbsp (45 ml) of the olive oil, lemon juice, basil, oregano, parsley, garlic and sea salt. Set aside.
In a large frypan, heat another 1 Tbsp (15 ml) oil. Add the chickpeas and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until they are all golden brown (this takes about 10 minutes). Add to the bowl.
Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp (15 ml) oil in the pan and add the artichoke hearts, cut side down. Cook until they are browned, stirring only once or twice to avoid breaking them up, about 5-10 minutes more. Add them to the bowl as well.
Toss the salad gently until the chickpeas and artie hearts are well coated with the dressing. To serve, spoon the salad onto serving plates and sprinkle with some of the chopped almonds (add any leftover almonds to the bowl and toss again). Serve warm. Makes 4 servings.
[Have you entered the Cookbook giveaway yet? Choose any cookbook you like and you could win it as my Christmas present to you this year! Click here to enter--only one day left!]
I meant to post about this recipe yesterday, but somehow, I’m, er, running a tad behind schedule. How did I get so woefully tardy on my holiday preparations this year? Usually, I’m that student you always hated, the one who handed her essay in two days early. Or that friend who’s already seated, calmly sipping tea and reading The History of Love, when you arrive at the restaurant for lunch at the designated time. (Sorry, really. Seems I couldn’t help it. . .just anal that way).
But not this year; no sirree. I suppose I can attribute the shift in efficiency to a strange confluence of medical and dental appointments, late-in-the-term exams and massive marking duties, some broken plumbing and emergency repairs plus various and sundry other distractions scattered throughout the month. I could blame the influence of the HH (always a great fallback position) and his über laid-back approach to Christmas shoppingthe holidaysshovelling snow everything, leaving chores or errands until the last minute, which seems to work just fine for him but is in fact disastrous for me. Or I could blame this infernal candida (even better fallback position), which has been acting up as if sparked by the holiday spirit itself.
Years ago, I vowed I would never leave holiday shopping to the last minute. This pledge came after one particular Christmas in Montreal during my graduate school years. I’d flown “home” from Toronto to be with my family, but as a don in residence, I wasn’t allowed to leave the campus until December 23rd. The CFO suggested we wait until I arrived so we could shop together–on December 24th. “We’ll just start really early, before the crowds develop,” was her reasoning. It must have been the jet-lag, but it seemed logical to me, and I agreed.*
Entering the first shopping mall, I was overcome with a mounting sense of dread as we shuffled along amid the throngs, shoulder to shoulder with a mass of strangers moving in unison from displays of scarves and mitts to shelves of sweaters and lingerie to stacks of boots and books to walls lined with dresses and coats to counters replete with mixers, radios, food processors, mixing bowls, wine glasses, can openers, oven mitts. . . . within minutes, I was a little light-headed and approaching dizzy.
After about half an hour of such torture, the CFO and I looked around at the mob of seemingly lifeless bodies perambulating like automatons, no expression (or worse, grim determination) on their faces, moving as if compelled by some unseen, insidious force. . . wait a minute–did that guy have both his arms outstretched before him, palms toward the ground? Was that a little drop of blood I saw in the corner of that grandma’s leering mouth? Was that woman at the Henckels counter lifting that blade a little too high over the saleswoman’s head? Suddenly, we both decided we had to get out of there. Now.
With only a few meagre bags at our feet, sipping cappuccino (as I still did in those days) at a nearby café, we felt enormous relief at having escaped relatively unscathed from what seemed like the scene of the latest horror movie: Christmas Night of the Living Dead, perhaps, or Invasion of the Booty Snatchers, or The Lost Buys. Or, even more to the point, simply The Shopping Mall (Mmwhahahahaaaaaa!).
Nope, never again.
Okay, so maybe December 22nd is, in reality, not much better than December 24th, but at least I got the job done yesterday (with minimal dizziness or bloodshed). The HH, on the other hand, still hasn’t even started his Christmas shopping. Mwhahhaahahaaaa!
This salad will provide a refuge from the holiday insanity (or, perhaps, some rejuvenation after the Big Day). I came across the recipe on Shannon’s blog while catching up on blog reading (another area I’m woefully behind). The original hails from Molly, and, like all of her recipes, it’s a winner. It’s quick (start to finish in less than 30 minutes), satisfying and nutritious all at once. The combination of butternut squash (for just a hint of sweetness) and chickpeas (for protein) with a smattering of red onion (for bite) and aromatic cilantro (for–well, for deliciousness) is addicting.
I had it for lunch yesterday, then again today. The creamy cloak of tahini drizzled over the warmed squash base makes for a delightful contrast in flavors and temperatures, reminiscent of the all-in-one dinner bowls I wrote about a while back. In fact, I think this would be more than sufficient for dinner if served with a healthy grain or hunk of hearty bread.
*Of course it wasn’t jet-lag; there’s no time difference between Toronto and Montreal. It was just wishful thinking.
Warm Butternut Salad with Chickpeas and Tahini Dressing
Oddly, even though the original recipe is called “Warm Butternut Salad,” Molly’s instructions tell us to cool the squash and not re-heat it. I simply used the squash almost straight from the oven to keep the base warm, and to save time.
For the Salad:
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1″ (2.5 cm) pieces
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) allspice (I’d go with 3/4 tsp or 3.5 ml next time)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
fine sea salt, to taste
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) cooked chickpeas, or one 15 oz (425 g) can, drained and rinsed very well
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh cilantro, finely chopped
For the Tahini Dressing:
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
3 Tbsp (45 ml) well-stirred tahini
1 medium garlic clove, finely minced
3-1/2 Tbsp (52.5 ml) fresh lemon juice (not bottled)
2-4 Tbsp (30-60 ml) water, as needed
Preheat the oven to 425F (220C). Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash, 1 clove garlic, allspice, 2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil, and salt to taste. Use a large spoon or your hands to toss the squash until everything is evenly coated. Turn the mixture onto the baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, until the squash is just tender (take care not to overbake at this stage). Remove from oven and cool about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the dressing: in a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the 2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil and tahini until smooth. Add remaining ingredients (start with just 2 Tbsp/30 ml water) and whisk until smooth; the sauce should be the texture of thick cream. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary (I had to add a bit more lemon juice).
To assemble: combine the baked squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro in a mixing bowl and toss gently (so as not to break up the squash). For individual servings, spoon onto plates and drizzle each individually with dressing. Or toss the entire salad and serve in a large bowl, family-style. Makes 4-6 servings. Will keep, covered, in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
As we often do, the HH and I made the trek to Montreal over the long weekend to spend the holidays with my family. While I long ago became accustomed to toting along some sort of sustenance for these trips (my diet, even when I’m not on a candida cleanse, is considered fairly “out there” by the rest of my kinsfolk), this last visit presented a particular challenge, as I couldn’t even partake in those few foods I normally eat when staying with the CFO.
As a result, our cooler was packed a little more than usual as we departed for La Belle Ville. At our pit stop near Kingston, the HH bought himself a regular coffee and chicken club at Tim Horton’s, while I munched on grape tomatoes, baby carrots, and my new favorite hummus–a Curried Pumpkin variety.
The hummus came about the week before we left, as I was standing in the kitchen ruminating (figuratively, of course) about how much I miss my beloved pumpkin oats (à la Shelby) since I began this infernal ACD. While I ruminated (literally) on some hummus, it occurred to me: why not combine the pumpkin with my hummus instead? Eureka! I threw together some standard hummus, tinkered with the spices and fats, and ended up feeling rather smug for having created a unique, ingenious and flavorsome dish. Immediately, I determined to blog about it.
Well, a few days later, I encountered Vegan Yum Yum’s post about Apple Pie Coffee Cake. The post opened with the following line: ”I have a knack for inventing things that have already been invented.” Ooops.
Rather quickly, I was accosted by insistent, niggling doubts (sort of like Chaser when she wants to go for a walk) about my hummus. Could it be that my original invention already existed? Eventually, I succumbed and, after a quick Google search, discovered that pumpkin hummus abounds on the Internet. In fact, it’s almost as ubiquitous as those little popups (you know the ones–those rows of laughing emoticons) that invade your screens when you’re looking for something else. Curses!
I did take some comfort, however, in the knowledge that all of us, at some time or another, have probably considered an idea or concept of ours to be entirely unprecedented, only to discover fairly quickly that scores of others had already considered the very same thing.
* * *
The scene: Ricki, aged 17, returns home from CEGEP. The Nurse hunches over the kitchen table, enjoying a Fresca and reading Family Circle.
RICKI [flushed with pride at her own discovery]: Hey, did you ever consider how every person sees everything through their own mind? I mean, maybe each of us is actually living in our own little world, which is, like, just our own consciousness, and maybe everything else is just an illusion? Like, what if you’re not really here, but you’re only here because I think you’re here–what if everythng in the world is just an offshoot of my own imagination, creating my reality? What if there’s really nothing else except me? Whoah. Weird, huh?
THE NURSE: I hate to tell you this, but that’s a common theory. It’s called solipsism. Just read some philosophy, genius. Geez. [She yawns. Ricki sinks under the table].
Or how about the same scene, six years later:
Ricki and the CFO are hunched at the kitchen table, drinking Diet Pepsi and reading People magazine.
THE CFO: Hey, Ric, did you ever consider how every person sees everything through their own mind? I mean, maybe each of us is actually living in our own little world. . . . . What if there’s really nothing else except me? Whoah. Weird, huh?
RICKI: I hate to tell you this, but that’s actually a common concept. They even made a movie about it–The Matrix. Just rent the film (which is much more fun than reading philosophy; besides, Keanu Reeves is much cuter than Descartes).
* * *
Well, no matter. Original or not, this hummus is delightful. With its subtle, sunny glow from both pumpkin and turmeric, to the slightly sweet spice from a mild curry and creamy chickpea base, the flavors meld beautifully to create an enticing appetizer or sandwich filling.
When I served this at dinner last week, the HH proclaimed, “This is the best hummus I’ve ever had,” and made me promise to prepare it again.
Now, I’d be inclined to agree with him, except of course I can never be 100% certain that his experience of hummus is identical to my experience of hummus. . . I mean, what if he’s referring to something entirely different from me when he says “best”? And what if I am actually living in my own little world, separate and distinct from his, and the HH is just a figment of my imagination? (Well, okay, I guess that wouldn’t be so bad–it would just mean more hummus for me!). Either way, I’ll be making this again.
Curried Pumpkin Hummus
Unlike most hummus recipes, this one includes no added oils–the almond butter and tahini provide enough fat to render this smooth, creamy, and very satisfying. (And quite original, don’t you think?) It’s great as a filling in raw collard wraps–as seen above–too.
3/4 cup (180 ml) packed cooked pumpkin purée, fresh or canned
2 Tbsp (30 ml) smooth natural almond butter
3 Tbsp (45 ml) tahini (sesame paste)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 tsp (7.5 ml) mild curry powder
1 tsp (5 ml) cumin
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt, or to taste
1/4-1/3 cup (60-80 ml) fresh chopped cilantro, to taste
Cover the chickpeas with water and allow to soak overnight or at least 8 hours. Drain and cover with fresh water in a large pot. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until very soft, about 40 minutes. (Alternately, use canned, well-rinsed chickpeas).
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the drained chickpeas and remaining ingredients and process until smooth (add up to 1/3 cup or 80 ml water to achieve desired thickness). Scrape into serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil, if desired. Serve with pita chips or raw veggies, or use as a filling in sandwiches or wraps. Makes about 3 cups.