Some things just never change. As a result, there are certain aspects of our lives upon which we all tend to rely.
For instance, you expect that Wile E. Coyote will tumble down the mountainside (an anvil in hot pursuit), only to re-emerge the following week without so much as a scratch–and start all over again. You can reliably presume that if you wear a white shirt on a first date, you will likely spill red wine on it. You depend on David Letterman to deliver a Top Ten list (and for there to be ten items on it). When you look in the mirror, you assume you will see your own reflection staring back at you (and not your mother’s, as I have been seeing lately). And if you’re Elsie and Chaser, you count on Mum to feed you at precisely 5:00 PM, or else feel justified executing the “border collie stare” and butting her thigh with your cold, wet nose. ["Yeah, so, and what of it, Mum? A gal's gotta eat."]. You just rely on certain things to always be. . . well, reliable.
One of the most reliable aspects of winter is that I will hate itmy whingeing against the cold and sleetRicki dreaming of the tropics comfort food. And one of the most common forms of comfort food in winter is shepherd’s pie.
[Almost makes it worthwhile to endure another winter. . . . almost.]
Interestingly enough, while my mom wasn’t a great cook, she did, on occasion, tackle this multi-layered dinner casserole. When it came to ground beef in general, her usual plated meal was grey hamburgers with a side of insipid mashed potatoes (eat up, everyone!). The burgers were always the color of lead, with a thick, tough crust on the exterior and dry, nubby bits inside; eating one felt like taking a big bite of a thick packing box filled with styrofoam chips.
But then, perhaps once a year, she’d go wild and make the shepherd’s pie. Her version involved cooking half a bag of frozen peas and carrots along with the meat, then plopping the mixture in the bottom of a square pan and topping the whole mess with homemade mashed potatoes (which were reliable as well: always full of lumps). As you can imagine, I wasn’t a fan of shepherd’s pie.
Of course, I wouldn’t have been a fan of the dish even if my mother had been a fabulous cook. Authentic shepherd’s pie, I learned with great dismay, contained ground lamb (because, well, they were what the shepherds were shepherding). Personally, I’d much rather see shepherds train their sheep to do this:
["Oh, sure, Mum, those sheep may look impressive, but don't forget that it's actually the dogs who did all the real work. I think they deserve some food for that."]
Once I left home for university, I completely forgot about shepherd’s pie. It wasn’t until my 30s here in Toronto that I encountered a stellar vegan version of the dish at a restaurant called le Commensal that I fell in love. Their shepherd’s pie featured buckwheat (one of my favorite “grains”) and a topping made with fluffy sweet potato mash. (These days, it seems, the place is no longer a vegan establishment and has added some “flexitarian” options to their menus. . . so who knows? Maybe they’re serving lamb-based sheperd’s pie after all now.)
When I began to crave comfort food, I decided to create my own riff on that buckwheat pie and soup it up a bit with lentils for additional protein. Having tried both sweet potato and regular potato, I decided to go with the regular mash as a more traditional topping. The result is a sturdy, full-flavored–dare I say, meaty--pie that will fill your belly with flavor and comfort. Because after all, when you eat shepherd’s pie, you want to be able to count on it to be just what you expect, right? Some things never change. . . .
Although it takes a bit of advance preparation, this pie comes together very easily. It also makes a large casserole, so you’ll have leftovers to freeze for another day. If you’re not a fan of buckwheat, simply double the amount of lentils.
Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Spray a 9-inch (22.5 cm) square pan or casserole dish with non-stick spray, or grease with coconut oil.
Make the filling: Bring the 2 cups/480ml vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the lentils. Cover, lower heat to simmer, and cook for 20 minutes. Uncover the pot and add the buckwheat, then replace the cover and simmer for another 20-25 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed and both the lentils and buckwheat are soft. (If necessary, add a bit more liquid and continue to cook until done).
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frypan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, 7-10 minutes. Add the walnuts, celery, carrots and garlic, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the walnuts are fragrant and the onions are browned, another 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and stir to coat the vegetables. Add the remaining ingredients including the lentil-buckwheat mixture and stir well to combine.
Turn the filling into the pan and smooth the top. Set aside until the potatoes are ready.
While the filling cooks, prepare the potatoes: Place the potatoes and water in a large pot and bring to boil over high heat. Boil until the potatoes are quite tender, 20-25 minutes. Drain and mash with the 1/2 cup (120 ml) broth and coconut oil; add salt to taste.
Spread the mashed potatoes over the filling in the pan. You can simply smooth the top, or run the tines of a fork through it in swirls in a decorative manner. Sprinkle with more paprika, if desired.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until the potatoes are beginning to brown and the filling is bubbly. Allow to cool 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Makes 4-6 servings. May be frozen.
[Hearty, slurpy, stick-to-your-ribs Lentil and Almond Tagine]
Up until last month, the only tagine I had ever eaten were this one ** or one at a small Middle Eastern restaurant that the HH and I went to in the early days of our relationship. But then I was contacted by the lovely Martine from Robert Rose publishers, wondering if I’d like to review Pat Crocker’s latest oeuvre, 150 Best Tagine Recipes, and the amazing world of tagines opened up for me.
If you’ve never heard of tagines, you’re in for a treat. The word tagine refers both to the Moroccan clay pot used for slow-cooking a meal or side dish, and also the very meal or side dish that results (don’t you just love the efficiency of those Moroccans?). The (edible) tagine is a thick, rich, slowly-simmered kind of stew that can contain almost any ingredients you fancy, from meat (um, nope) to poultry (nada) to seafood (nuh-uh) to legumes (getting warmer) and all manner of vegetables (jackpot!). It’s also always deeply spiced with a mixture of aromatic blends with African influences. . . Think of it, as Jamie Oliver does, as “stew with attitude.”
At first, I was a little concerned that (given the traditional tagine ingredients) I wouldn’t find much in the book I could cook. But I was assured that the vegetable chapter would provide me with ample choice.
Turns out that was only partly true. There are 16 vegetable tagine recipes in the book; however, considering that there are also full chapters devoted to each of poultry, lamb, beef, and fish/seafood, I’m not sure I’d purchase the book if I were simply browsing in a bookstore looking for a new vegan cookbook. After all, there are so many other wonderful vegan cookbooks on the market right now (in fact, my next book review is going to focus on one of them!). That said, however, the book also contains quite a few recipes for salad and sides, dips and other finger foods as well as beverages and sweets; and it has tons to offer for gluten-free eaters, as tagines are naturally gluten free.
Chapter topics move from a general introduction to a detailed explanation of the concept of tagine cooking, its history and traditional equipment used, to the evolution of the modern (and stovetop) tagine. Crocker also covers information about traditional spices and seasonings used, common ingredients, and traditional spice blends (for which she includes recipes).
Because I don’t own a traditional tagine, I opted to cook the first recipe I sampled using the stovetop method described in the book (basically cooking the ingredients in a large pot with a lid). While it worked just fine, I wondered if I were somehow missing out on the true intent of the recipes, as the cooking time for stovetop preparation was under 30 minutes, when true tagine cooking can take hours. So, for my second attempt, I popped the ingredients into a casserole and baked at a leisurely pace. The result was spectacular: flavors melded beautifully, spices developed their full potential, chunks of veggies caramelized and exuded natural juices to season the entire stew.
When you make these recipes at home, I’d recommend baking in the oven rather than cooking on the stovetop if you have the time (unless you own a stovetop tagine, of course).
And so, on to the recipes!
The first recipe I tried was Lentil and Almond Tagine (see top photo), an aromatic mix of red peppers, lentils, tomatoes and toasted almonds. Both the HH and I loved the Bahrat Spice blend that was included (recipe from the book) and the hearty mix of toothsome lentils with soft, sweet squash.
Next up was the Eggplant and Lentil Tagine, which I decided to bake in the oven to reproduce more of an authentic tagine effect. I used store-bought garam masala for this spice mix (one of the suggested options) and while it was delicious, both the HH and I thought the casserole could have used even more spice.
[Subtly spiced Eggplant and Lentil Tagine]
Finally, I tried out a side-dish tagine, which may actually have been my favorite of the three. As you may know, I already love beets; but this is one dish that anyone can enjoy. As the headnote to the recipe states: “Slightly sweet, this colorful side dish tagine is often enjoyed by ardent beet haters.” That’s quite a confident statement, and one with which I’d concur! The spiced, sweet-and-sour broth is a perfect medium for the delectable roots. This tagine also offers the surprise tartness of green apples (which, by the time I snapped the picture, had absorbed the vibrant fuschia of the beets). And it even included some sliced fennel–the only way I’ve ever loved that veggie!
[My favorite, Beet Tagine--it will make a convert of you!]
Want to Try Tagines? Win a Copy for Yourself!
If you’re already a fan of tagines or just curious to give them a try, the kind folks at Robert Rose are offering a free copy to a DDD reader!
How to Enter: Entering the giveaway couldn’t be easier: just leave a comment here telling me whether you’ve ever tried a tagine (and if so, how you liked it) OR what about a tagine appeals to you.
Second and subsequent entries: you can gain extra entries by subscribing to this blog, following DDD on Facebook, following me on twitter, posting about this on your own blog or Facebook page, tweeting about it (be sure to include @rickiheller in the tweet so I see it), or checking out the Pat Crocker page from Robert Rose and telling me which of her other books you think you’d enjoy.
For each additional entry, please be sure to come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so!
The giveaway will run until midnight my time this Wednesday, November 30th. I’ll announce the winners later in the week. Open to anyone in North America (with huge apologies to my international readers!).
To get you in the mood, here’s a recipe from the book (which you can enjoy wherever you are).
1 fresh hot chile pepper, chopped (I used jalapeno)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp (15 ml) sweet paprika
2 tsp (10 ml) Bahrat Spice Blend (see below)
1 cup yellow, red or brown lentils, rinsed (I used brown)
1 can (19 oz/540 ml) diced tomatoes, with juice
2 cups (500 ml) diced pumpkin or squash (I used butternut squash)
1/4 cup (60 ml) ground almonds
2 cups (500 ml) shredded swiss chard (I included stems)
1/2 cup (125 ml) toasted whole almonds
In the bottom of a flameproof tagine (or dutch oven), heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, chile pepper, bell pepper, paprika and spice blend and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. [Note: I found the mixture really stuck to the bottom of the pan this way; I deglazed with a splash of vegetable broth.] Add lentils and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice and bring to a boil.
Cover with tagine lid, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Add pumpkin and ground almonds, replace lid and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in Swiss chard, replace lid and simmer for 5 minutes or until greens are wilted and pumpkin is tender. Garnish with whole almonds.
Makes 4 servings. May be frozen.
Bahrat Spice Blend:
2 Tbsp (30 ml) coriander seeds
4 tsp (20 ml) cumin seeds
1 piece (1 inch/2.5 cm) cinnamon, crushed
5 whole cloves
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cardomom seeds
2 Tbsp (30 ml) paprika
1 tsp ground sumac, optional (I left it out)
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) ground nutmeg
In the bottom of a small tagine or frypan, combine the coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Toast over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes or until lightly colored and fragrant. Remove from diret heat just as the seeds pop; do not let the spices smoke and burn.
In a mortar and pestle or electric grinder, pound or grind the toasted spices until coarse or finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the paprika, sumac (if using) and nutmeg.
Store in an airtight (preferably dark) glass jar with lid in a cool place for up to 3 months. Makes 1/4 cup (60 ml).
**Thanks to Johanna for reminding me about the olive-quinoa one! Since I can’t eat most of the ingredients in it any more, I must have wiped it from my memory.
Last Year at this Time: Borscht to Beet Stress (gluten free; ACD All Stages)
I well remember the unbridled glee we all felt in grade school when, first thing in the morning, the Principal walked in to announce that we’d have a substitute teacher that day. We kids practically roared with excitement at the prospect of (a) getting a reprieve from homework (because the substitute, of course, never knew exactly what our regular teacher had assigned); (b) getting a reprieve from the usual discipline and classroom structure (we would just make up new rules that we preferred, and she never knew the difference); and (c) getting a reprieve from, basically, any learning at all (she didn’t stand a chance with a group of squealing, shrieking, squirming children who suddenly considered the day to be allotted for play).
Ah, yes, kids can be so cruel.
At least the class embraced the notion of a substitute with gusto. These days, I think, we’ve got the connotation of “substitute” all wrong. A substitute is not a lesser version of the “real thing”–no sir. It’s the brave soldier willing to stand in for his buddy on the front lines. It’s the eager understudy who may just surpass the headliner. It’s the medical resident who steps in to complete the operation when the surgeon’s hands begin to tremble. You get the idea.
Whenever the HH and I go to a restaurant and the menu proclaims “No Substitutions allowed” next to their most popular items, I’m always a little peeved and wonder how much more they’d sell of said pasta or salad if they did allow subs. In fact, I make a point of seeking out eating establishments that do permit changes to the menu–otherwise, I’d have precious few choices most of the time (oh, wait, I still have precious few choices. Damn you, ACD!).
And let’s not forget the common phrase, “poor substitute.” It’s as if those two words are fused at the hip, sort of like Eng and Chang, or coffee and cigarettes, or Simon and Paula (I know–can you believe they’re together, again, on X-Factor??).
Me, I love substitutes. I think substituting is part of the fun in cooking. When I first changed my diet, I wanted to play with every new ingredient I could find and figure out how the new could replace the old (or not). I was so fascinated with substitutes, in fact, that I devoted an entire chapter to substitutes in my cookbook.
The process of coming up with substitutes can be a truly creative endeavor in the kitchen (or, really, any facet of life). Maybe my interest is rooted in my cash-strapped twenties when, as a graduate student, I was constantly seeking cheaper alternatives for the latest fashions, buzz-worthy restaurants, first-class travel, or even a favored bubbly. After a while, it was like a game: what can I use instead of this pernod in the recipe to achieve the same result (without the same cost)? How about this cool aviator jacket from the army surplus instead of the latest runway darling? And these discarded flyers have print on one side only–they’d make great note paper–for free!
My knack for subbing one ingredient for another came back in a flash last week as I prepared a warming soup for the HH and me (sort of how the autumn weather itself decided to blast into town out of nowhere, too). With the cooler clime suddenly upon us, I found myself wanting some classic split-pea soup. After consulting my soup bible, Nava Atlas’s Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons, I settled on the “Golden Curried Pea Soup.”
Everything was going along swimmingly (except of course, no more real swimming, now that it’s turned cool outside–summer, why hast thou forsaken me?). My onion was sizzling, I was chopping up the carrots, I poured the broth into the pot and reached for my jar of split peas, and–oh, noooo! No split peas! (I had been so certain I had some, in fact, that I hadn’t even checked before beginning to cook–kids, please don’t try this at home). But the soup must go on! I scanned the cupboard for a suitable substitute, and came upon a jar of red lentils. Perfecto!
In went the lentils and the the final result worked out beautifully. This version offers up the same thick, nubby, substantial base as a split-pea version, albeit slightly less sweet. The curry provided a warming undertone to the mild flavor of the lentils, and the carrots contributed their own seasonal color and texture. This is a stick-to-your-ribs, hearty and filling bowlful, one you’ll be scraping clean with your spoon.
In this instance, I daresay my substitute was every bit as good as I expect the original would have been. I hope you’ll give it a try–and do feel free to substitute another legume of choice for the lentils.
1 pound (454 g) red lentils, split yellow peas, or other quick-cooking legume
1/2 cup (120 ml) raw brown rice
2 bay leaves
2 tsp (10 ml) good-quality curry powder, more or less to taste (I used more)
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) turmeric
1 tsp (5 ml) freshly grated ginger
pinch of ground nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the onion and garalic and sauté until just golden.
Add remaining ingredients to the pot except for salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently until the lentils are mushy, about 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
When the soup is ready, adjust consistency with more water as needed, then season with salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaves and serve. Makes 8-10 servings. May be frozen.
[A quick note and special request: The VegNews Awards polls for 2010 are open! If you like Diet, Dessert and Dogs or my cookbook, Sweet Freedom, please head to the site and add them to their lists! You can nominate me for the blog, cookbook author or tweeter categories. How great would it be for an allergy-friendly, whole foods site to top their lists? (And guess what? Ms. Ellen is already nominated! I sense that a meeting will be coming about somehow. . . ) Your support is much appreciated, everyone!]
[Simple to make, delicious to eat: red lentil pâté]
The first time I purchased an ebook from Christy Morgan (aka The Blissful Chef), all I really knew about her was (a) she lived in LA; and (b) she cooked according to macrobiotic principles. Well, since I’d studied the macrobiotic diet in nutrition school, I knew it meshed very well with my own food philosophy and even the anti-candida diet (ACD), as it focuses on whole and local ingredients and traditional preparation methods. And as someone who’s been pining to return to LA (especially on The Ellen Show!) since my last visit there when I was 17, I was pleased to know that fact about Christy, too.
A few weeks ago, I bought the most recent in the “Cooking with the Seasons” series for summer. This is the second in a series of Christy’s ebooks that present recipes geared specifically toward each season. In this ebook, Christy talks a bit about how summer is the “fire” season and why it makes sense to prepare foods that are fresh, mostly raw, quick and easy–to avoid the heat of the kitchen and preserve our energies for other activities during the warm weather. She also discusses her approach to cooking, which she describes as “macrobiotic, vegan, raw fusion.” The sixteen recipes in the ebook reflect that philosophy as well.
The first thing that struck me as I browsed through the recipes was that were so many in it I could eat–with no (or very little) adjustment. Whole foods, low fat, easy preparation and nothing processed–these are the kinds of recipes that fit perfectly with someone on the ACD!
I decided to plunge right in with the ”Red Lentil Pâté with Cashews,” a quick and easy spread that’s perfect to serve to guests or for a light dinner. This is a lovely appetizer with a light texture that’s quite different from the rich, nut-heavy spreads that are more commonly served as vegan pâtés; in keeping with the light summer theme, this recipe has no added fat (though the cashews do add some, of course).
I adored this pâté. It works beautifully as a finger food or even–as I found myself snacking on it–straight from a spoon. The preparation is super-simple (though you do need some time to let the mixture boil down). I was skeptical at first about the amount of curry powder in this–it’s a full tablespoon–but once the mixture cooks up and the lentils begin to soften and dissolve, the final balance of seasoning is perfect. Once cold, the mixture firmed up beautifully as well.
Serve this on crackers, as I did, or slice a thick block to have between slices of hearty bread, with some lettuce and sprouts for a great summer sandwich.
Next up was the “Fresh Herb Salad with White Peaches.” Again, the ingredient list was mostly fresh, whole fruit and vegetables with flavorful fresh herbs as garnish. The combination of peaches, greens, and just-picked herbs sounded fantastic to me, and a great way to use seasonal produce and some of the lovely basil from my garden. Although I couldn’t find white peaches, the final result with conventional fruit was strikingly colorful and vibrant, like a festive float at a summer celebration:
[Fresh Herb Salad with White Peaches--and this is anunretouched photo; the colors really are this intense!]
Finally, I cooked up the “Garden Fresh Millet Quinoa” for dinner; I knew I couldn’t go wrong with two of my favorite grains. Another quick and simple preparation resulted in a light, flavorful dish that was so much more than the sum of its parts. A mélange of colors, flavors and textures contribute to a filling and satisfying meal that both the HH and I enjoyed immensely.
With other recipes like “Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta,” “Creamy Tomato Basil Bisque,” “Kale with Lemon Miso Dressing,” “Summertime Succotash,” or “Mixed-Berry Couscous Cake,” the book offers tasty, fresh ways to use your summer produce and stay cool in the kitchen. And at only $4.99 per book (or $7.99 for both!), Cooking with the Seasons: Summer is a great find.
To provide a sample of the book’s recipes, Christy has graciously allowed me to reprint the Red Lentil Pâté with Cashews. If you enjoy lentil curry, you’ll love this.
This is a light spread and one that tastes equally good cold or slightly warm.
1/4 cup (60 ml) filtered water or broth (I used vegetable broth)
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 Tbsp (15 ml) curry powder (I used mild)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) dried coriander
pinch fine sea salt
1 Tbsp (15 ml) minced ginger
1 cup (240 ml) red lentils, washed and picked over
3 cups (720 ml) filtered water (I used vegetable broth)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) tamari (I used Braggs aminos)
1/2 cup (120 ml) lightly toasted cashews, chopped
fresh cilantro, for garnish
Heat the 1/4 cup (60 ml) water in a medium saucepan over medium-high flame. When the water starts to sizzle, sauté the veggies, spices, ginger and salt for a few minutes. Add the 3 cups (720 ml) water or broth and lentils to the pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 30 minutes. Stir in the tamari and cashews and keep stirring, scraping the bottom of the pot as necessary to avoid scorching, until the mixture becomes very thick and paste-like (this took me another 20-30 minutes).
Place the mixture in a loaf pan, bowl, or decorative dish and let sit at least 15 minutes to cool and firm up (I refrigerated mine for a few hours). Serve garnished with cilantro, with crackers for spreading. Will keep, covered, in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
Just like Anna Karenina’s unhappy families, everyone deals with illness in her or his own way.
The HH, for instance, when struck with a cold or flu, takes to his (ie, our) bed for two days or so. He doesn’t talk; he doesn’t watch TV; he doesn’t eat; he barely uses the bathroom. Then, after the magical 48-hour interval, he emerges from the room like someone who’s just attended a premiere screening of Star Wars: still a little dazed, eyes not quite yet adjusted to the light, but somehow energized and ready to get back into the regular world.
I, on the other hand, rarely if ever spend time in bed during the day (no, no, I didn’t mean it that way, silly! I’m talking about when I’m sick). Instead, I stumble about and manage to function at sub-optimal levels for as many days as it takes to recover. . . usually the better part of two weeks. Then, one day, I realize that the symptoms are gone–no more pile of soggy tissues beside the bed, no more abandoned cups of tea all over the house, no more tickle at the back of the throat, no more raw, throbbing red proboscis.
Similarly, I think that people who recuperate from illness crave unique foods as well.
When I was 16, I caught chicken pox from the CFO. (Believe me, chicken pox is intended as a childhood disease for a reason; what is usually mild and short-term discomfort for a ten year-old can progress to a full blown health crisis for a teen or adult). Besides the initial alarm and teenaged angst I felt during the first two days (when I assumed those little pustules were zits rather than pox), I also became incredibly enervated and developed a high (104F or 40C) fever before an insanity-inducing itch enveloped my entire body for about ten days. I recall spending hours hunched in the bathtub, attempting to submerge myself (face included) under the lukewarm water into which was dumped an entire box of baking soda. If it hadn’t been a drowning risk, I probably would have slept in that tub.
When I finally began to regain some strength, my mom asked what I wanted to eat.
“I think I’d like some. . . cottage cheese and canned pears.”
Cottage cheese? And canned pears?? Neither of these was a favored food; I almost never ate canned anything. Still, my body must have known what it needed. Perhaps there was sodium in the pears to replenish what I’d lost in bodily fluids by sweating so much. Or maybe my adolescent self still required some protein and calcium. Whatever the reason, it did the trick, and I began to get better.
This past week, as I finally emerged from the quagmire of a heinous virus (not swine flu, according to my doctor), I began to yearn for real food, something other than tea, or broth, or a healing smoothie.
“Ess goo suh-er” I said to the HH. (I lost my voice after the first few days, and it still hasn’t quite come back, unfortunately.)
“Huh?” the HH replied.
“Let’s cook supper,” I whispered. “How about lentil rissoles?”
“Huh?” the HH replied. (Oh, he had heard me this time; but he had no idea what a “rissole” was).
Like so many food bloggers, my favorite reading material when I have a few minutes of downtime is a good cookbook. In general, I flip through any new recipe book as soon as I get it home, marking favored recipes with tabs made from torn Post-It notes. Some books end up with just a few tabs, lonely markers like flags left behind on the surface of the moon, while others are graced with tabs on almost every page, leaving a fringe of sticky notes across the book’s edge.
This recipe for lentil rissoles is one I picked out over a year ago, when I first flipped through Homestyle Vegetarian, a great find at a bookstore remainder bin. Basically, a rissole is a patty or burger that’s been coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried. I decided to nix the coating/frying and cook these up as a simple yet flavorful burger. Besides being delicious, these lovelies boast a full 24 grams of protein per serving (2 rissoles).
In about 30 minutes (by then I was too hungry to refrigerate them as directed before cooking–but I think it would have helped), we had a satisfying meal of rissoles and a simple green salad on the table. The end result was slightly disappointing in texture (probably my fault for not refrigerating them first), with a soft and moist interior much like refried beans. As a result, the patties tended to break up as I transferred them from pan to plate. (I’m guessing that a Tbsp/15 ml finely ground flax added to the raw mixture would help considerably, or substituting a glutenous rather than gluten-free bread for the crumbs). But the taste was outstanding.
Not at all spicy, with just a whisper of cumin, the burgers were toothsome and even meaty. While my habitual method with burgers is to blend everything to a homogenous smoothness, in this case I followed the original recipe and made patties with distinct chunks of carrot and whole peas, which provided bursts of slightly sweet, intense flavor in each bite. Beauty!
The HH proclaimed these a huge success and happily ate two. We had ours plain, but because of their mild flavor, I bet these would be stellar with a chutney or even a few slices of avocado and a dollop of salsa. Still, that’s just how I’d eat them. I imagine everyone else will deal with the burger in her or his own way, of course.
These patties are perfect for an everyday dinner, and would be wonderful jazzed up with an array of toppings and served in a toasted bun.
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp (10 ml) ground cumin
1 tsp (5 ml) ground coriander
2 cups (480 ml) vegetable broth or stock
1 medium carrot, finely diced
1 cup (250 g) red lentils, picked over and washed
1-1/2 cups (120 g) fresh whole grain breadcrumbs (I used millet-quinoa bread, but I think a spelt or whole wheat would actually work better here)
2/3 cup (60 g) walnuts, finely chopped (I ground mine in the food processor)
1/2 cup (90 g) frozen peas
3 Tbsp (45 ml) chopped flat leaf parsley or cilantro
Heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven. Cook the onion, garlic, cumin and coriander over medium heat for 2 minutes, or until the onion has softened. Stir in the carrot, lentils and broth. Slowly bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked and pulpy, stirring frequently to stop them from sticking and scorching. Remove the lid during the last 10 minutes to evaporate any remaining liquid. The mixture should be fairly mushy and there should be no liquid visible on the bottom of the pot after you run a spatula across it.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the breadcrumbs, walnuts, peas, and parsley. Form into eight 3-1/2 inch (8 cm) round rissoles. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until they are firm (this is the step I skipped–I would advise doing it).
Spray a nonstick frypan with olive oil spray and heat over medium heat. Cook the rissoles about 4 minutes on each side, until the outsides are browned and crispy and they are heated through. Makes 8 rissoles. May be frozen.
First, and most importantly: Happy 2009, everyone! Thank you all so much for your wonderful comments and good wishes for the new year. I can’t even begin to express how much I appreciate them all and how much blogging has brought into my life. But by far, the best part is you–readers and other bloggers. Thank you for sharing 2008 with me, and I look forward to 2009!
The HH and I (sans The Girls, unfortunately, as our Elsie Girl refuses to play nice with the other five dogs who live there) spent another lovely, bucolic New Year’s Eve with my friends Gemini I and II and their broods up at Gemini I’s palatial country “cottage.” We ate, we drank, and Gemini II’s hubby lit fireworks just before midnight, when we toasted in 2009. The rest of the time, we chillaxed to the max, reading in front of the fireplace, watching ice fishers huddled by their hut atop the lake, taking photos of indigenous birds perched at the feeder outside the window, or working as a group on the massive, 2-page annual crossword puzzle that’s printed in The Globe and Mail. I didn’t even mind the snow and ice (a New Year’s Eve miracle!).
And now, back to reality. . . and back to business.
Although I more or less threw resolutions out the window many years ago (really, don’t I already know I’ll want to lose weight after the holidays?), I do update a list I call my “Five Year Plan.” In it, I write down goals for the following six months, the following year, two years, and five years. I try to arrange them so that the earlier goals might naturally precede the later goals (eg., six months: take a course in html; one year: design own web page).
Okay, so maybe it’s just another version of resolutions after all. . .but this long-term view has worked well for me in the past: one of the most unusual “goals” that came to fruition was “work with a business coach–for free”; and so far, the best one (way back before I met the HH) was “own my own home,” something I’m adding back to the list this year, now that we’ve been renting for. . . well, far too long.
I’ve decided that this list works best when it’s kept private, as last year’s list, while not that different from the ones I wrote before it, was a total bust. Instead of losing 50 pounds over the past 50 weeks or so, I’ve gained about four (definitely more than the “1.5 pound” holiday average. My parents always encouraged me to try to be above average, so I guess I can say I’ve accomplished that now).
Still, I believe the concept is a great one and one that most people should try at least once. As the famous Harvard study demonstrated, those who write down their goals (as opposed to simply thinking of them) tend to concretize them, and the goals are more apt to come true. For whatever reason, putting something down on paper triggers a mechanism in the brain that impels you to action. I will share the easiest goal on my list, though: remain part of the blogging world, and keep blogging regularly. That one, at least, I know will be pure pleasure to enact!
Before I bid 2008 adieu permanently, however, I wanted to share the amazing Indian feast we had when the CFO visited at Christmas time. Although our meal on December 25th was relatively traditional, it was this one (the following night) that became the high point of holiday meals for us.
[Peas in a Creamy Curry Sauce]
I first discovered Indian cuisine about 10 years ago, after having to change my diet dramatically and seek out foods that met my dietary challenges. At the time, being both a meat eater and a wheat eater, those challenges were plentiful.
Then I began to frequent Indian restaurants. Most dishes were not only wheat-free, but gluten-free as well! And the vegetarian/vegan options seemed endless. Here in Toronto, many Indian restaurants operate as all-you-can-eat buffets. These ostensibly boundless displays of vegetable- and legume-based dishes were dazzling and even a bit overwhelming at first, as I was determined to try every dish in my new culinary repertoire. (Eventually, I realized, many of those dishes had been sitting out under warming lights for hours, or were thrown together from leftovers of two or more of the previous day’s dishes; I began to opt for sit-down restaurants instead).
It seemed natural to attempt to re-create those spicy, saucy, succulent meals at home. I bought a couple of Indian cookbooks and went to work. In those days, I cooked a lot of chicken and meat dishes, some of which I’ve converted over the years. Perhaps it was curry overload; perhaps I assumed I’d never achieve a comparable result without the meat. For whatever reason, I hadn’t cooked a full Indian meal in some time.
Then I remembered that the CFO was also a fan of the cuisine and had an idea to whip up our own little Indian buffet as a post-Christmas dinner. The results were stellar, and made me wonder why I’ve neglected those recipes for so long.
Our meal included a fabulous multi-lentil dal based on Lisa’s recipe (my only change to the original recipe was using three types of lentil instead of lentils and moong beans); peas in a creamy sauce; curried potatoes and kale; and cheela (chickpea pancakes) along with basmati rice. While the potato dish was pretty much a haphazard combination of leftover tomato sauce, chopped kale, and chunks of spud, I did take note of the other recipes and can share them here.
Each of these dishes on its own would make a warming, satisfying light meal; put them together, and you’ve got a memorable finale to an eventful year.
One definite item in my next 5-Year Plan: Cook Indian more often.
Peas in a Creamy Curry Sauce
Super quick and easy, this side dish provides a lovely visual contrast to the mostly dull colors of long-simmered curries. The vibrant green and sweet flavor of the peas is perfect as an accompaniment to the intense spice of the other dishes. From an unidentified cookbook–sorry!
1/4 tsp. (1 ml.) Sucanat or other unrefined evaporated cane juice
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) ground cumin
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) garam masala
3/4 tsp. (7.5 ml.) fine sea salt
1/4-1/2 tsp. (1-2.5 ml.) chili powder, to your taste
1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) tomato purée (I used organic ketchup and omitted the Sucanat, above)
3/4 cup (180 ml.) unsweetened almond or soymilk
1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp. (10 ml.) chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 fresh green chili, chopped (optional–I omitted it as all the other dishes were very spicy)
3 Tbsp. (45 ml.) extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. (2. 5 ml.) black or yellow mustard seeds (I used black)
2-10 ounce (285 g.) bags frozen peas, defrosted under lukewarm water and drained
1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) organic cornstarch or arrowroot powder, if needed
Combine the Sucanat, ground cumin, garam masala, salt, chili powder and tomato purée in the bottom of a medium-sized bowl. Slowly stir in 2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) water and mix well. Add the soymilk gradually and mix; then add the lemon juice, cilantro and optional green chili. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large frypan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the cumin and mustard seeds and fry until the seeds begin to pop (about 20-30 seconds). Add the peas and fry for 30 more seconds before adding the sauce to the pan. Cook on medium-high heat for about 2 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. For a thicker sauce, ladle out about 1/2 cup of the sauce into a small bowl and blend with the 1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) cornstarch. Add this mixture back to the frypan and stir until thickened.
Serve over rice or with cheela. Makes about 6 servings.
*From what I can tell, these are also sometimes called pudla. Whatever you call them, they were so remarkably good that we consumed them all before I realized I’d not taken a photo. But other versions abound on the net; for photos, check out the blog posts by Johanna, Lisa, Pikelet and Pie (with zucchini) or (for an Italian twist) Kalyn.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, turmeric, baking soda, cumin, soymilk, and enough water to make a slightly thick, yet still flowing, batter. Stir in the chopped onion, green chili, tomato and cilantro.
Heat a nonstick (5 inch or 12 cm.) pancake pan [I just used a regular frypan] and spray with olive oil spray. Pour in about 1/3 cup batter, spreading it around to cover the bottom of the pan in a thin pancake. Spray the top of the pancake with oil as well.
Reduce heat to medium-low and cook the pancake for about 2-3 minutes, until the top begins to dry and the bottom of browned in spots. Flip and cook another 2-3 minutes until the other side is browned as well. Remove and keep warm while you make another 7 or so pancakes. Serve hot. Makes about 8 pancakes. Best eaten immediately (they do dry out if kept till the next day).
[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I'll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I've recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days. For this third entry, I'm focusing on Avocados. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. ]
Since today was the first Sunday following my Total Health course (and I promise–that’s the last time I’ll mention it!), I realized it was time to resume my regular Progress Tracker entries.
It’s been nine whole weeks since I had a regular Sunday weigh-in, so this morning, I donned my sweats and and finally returned to the workout club (Well, hi again, Elderly Gentleman Who Always Wears Black Knee Socks! I’m back, Burly Guy Who Stares at Women’s Breasts Between Sets! I actually missed you, Septuagenarian Couple with the Matching T-Shirts!).
After completing various stretches and weights, I performed the official post-course, ritual weigh in. And the result? After NINE WEEKS of eating healthfully and stepping up my exercise routine (literally–I’ve doubled the amount of walking I do each day since the osteopenia diagnosis), I lost. . . . are you ready for it? Okay, here goes. . . . I lost. . . . FOUR POUNDS.
Yep, four. Quatre. 4. Vier. Quattro. IV. Tessera. FOUR!!!! In nine weeks.
Lovely, no? That’s just under half pound a week. Okay, I suppose that’s not awful considering that the goal of the course was not to lose weight so much as to learn about healthy eating and to undergo an attitude adjustment in that area. During the course, I consumed just as much (healthy) food as I wanted to and never deprived myself in any way (except during the cleanse week, obviously). What this means is that I am now exactlyback where I started when I began this blog–with 40 pounds to lose to reach my goal. And while I do feel better since taking the course, that’s simply not acceptable. Nope.
And so. . . I’ve decided to take up the challenge offered by Gizmar from Equal Opportunity Kitchen, who wrote in her recent comment: “Ok, I’m throwing down the gauntlet – I want to lose some weight – I challenge you to a slim down!!!” Giz, you’re on! Ah, but how much weight? And in what time period? I will contact you so we can work out the details. But for now, I’ve decided, it’s time to get serious! (Again). Watch out, excess avoirdupois! Take a hike, jiggly thighs! Run for the hills, cellulite! I am on a mission.
* Sigh. *
(Okay, end of weight rant. We now return to this week’s regularly scheduled Lucky Comestible.)
One thing I realized while on my cleanse week is that I don’t eat nearly as many legumes as I should. Sure, if you consider peanut butter and carob, I suppose there’s a regular intake, but in general, my diet is sorely lacking.
As a child, the only beans I was ever served were the canned variety. Heinz Baked Beans made a quick and yummy dinner, just on their own. (Of course, my mother bought the “in tomato sauce” flavor so she wouldn’t have to deal with that one pasty, white, slimy chunk of pork fat that always rose to the top of the can. A few years ago, the HH and I took a course called Mini Med School at the University of Toronto. One evening, we were led down winding, clandestine hallways through an unmarked door into the actual anatomy lab, where we examined formaldehyde-infused hunks of human limbs, their outer layers peeled away to expose the muscles and bones underneath. One thigh had a rectangular chunk of flesh carved out, the cutout placed neatly on the counter beside it like a rubber bathtub stopper. Well, that little cube of pork fat looked just like the rectangular hunk of thigh. Good move, Mom.)
When I moved into my very first apartment the summer before my Master’s program began, my father’s housewarming gift to me was a smoked ham. (Not so strange if you consider that he owned a butcher shop–what else would he give me?). With the help of my trusty Joy of Cooking, I ended up making split pea and ham soup (even then, I couldn’t stomach the idea of an entire piece of ham on its own). I had just started dating my first true love a couple of weeks earlier (hey, Spaghetti Ears! How’s tricks?) and he, along with his two room mates, kindly relieved me of any superfluous soup–which, as it turned out, was pretty much all of it.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy bean dishes, either. It’s just that I never really think to make them. In more recent years, I’ve amassed a fairly reliable roster of bean recipes that I use on a rotating basis. There’s hummus, of course, but also sundried tomato hummus and roasted garlic hummus. Oh, and I can’t forget white bean hummus or fava bean hummus or even no-bean hummus (which, come to think of it, doesn’t really belong in the “dishes with beans” category, does it?). The HH and I also enjoy lentil-spaghetti sauce about twice a year, as well as my version of Tuscan baked beans (with olive oil and sage) and a classic three-bean salad in the summertime. Other than that, though, it’s pretty much hummus all around.
Well, I decided it was time to create something new and interesting with legumes. In keeping with the focus on avocado, I naturally gravitated toward the green legumes–or, more correctly, “legume”: lentils. Besides being one of the quickest to cook (they’re done in only 25 minutes, with no soaking required), lentils also provide a substantial contribution to your daily mineral requirements. In addition, they’re extremely high in fiber (both soluble and insoluble, important for healthy cholesterol levels), and they’re known to help keep blood sugar levels steady. Oh, and they taste really good!
I seized the green theme and just ran with it (okay, I kind of “speed-walked” with it), throwing pistachios into the mix as well. In these patties, the avocado acts as an egg substitute, while the nuts and beans work in tandem to provide a complete protein. While they’re not overly “meaty” in texture (the outside is crispy while the inside remains soft), these burgers are great either baked or fried, and would probably make a tasty loaf as well. Just for fun (and because I’m weird that way), I baked half the recipe and browned the other half in a frypan. I have to say that I actually preferred the baked version, which also held its shape better.
These patties are a great way to subtly add more legumes to your diet. And if you happen to be watching your weight–well, as it turns out, they’re pretty low-cal, too (about 150 calories each patty). Shall we start with these for dinner, Giz?
Lentil Pistachio Patties
These substantial patties offer a full-bodied flavor with a wonderful protein content, courtesy of the lentils and pistachios. The trio of avocado, olive oil, and pistachio adds richness and a healthy dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
1/2 cup (60 g.) shelled natural pistachios
1 medium carrot, trimmed and cut into chunks
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into quarters
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2-1/4 (560 ml.) cups cooked green lentils (about 1 cup dry)
2 small ripe Hass avocados (300-320 g. unpeeled), peeled, pitted and cut into quarters
1/4 cup (60 ml.) ground flax seeds
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) tamari soy sauce
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) ground coriander
1 tsp. (5 ml.) ground cumin
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) sea salt
2/3 cup (160 ml.) old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
If you’ll be baking the patties rather than frying them, preheat oven to 375F (190 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment or spray with nonstick spray.
In the bowl of a food processor, whir the pistachios until coarsely chopped. Add the carrot, onion, garlic, and cooked lentils, and process until you have a fairly smooth purée. Add the remaining ingredients except for oats and process to combine well.
Turn the mixture into a large bowl and stir in the oats. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
If you’ll be frying the patties, preheat a nonstick frypan over medium heat.
Scoop about 1/3 cup (80 ml.) of the mixture per patty.
If frying: Place the patties in the frypan and flatten slightly. Cook 4-6 minutes per side, until deep golden brown. Gently remove to a platter or place in hamburger buns with desired toppings.
If baking: Place the patties on the baking sheet and flatten slightly. Bake in preheated oven 30-40 minutes, until deep golden brown. If desired, flip the patties over about halfway through baking (though this isn’t absolutely necessary).
Serving suggestions: lettuce, tomato and hummus; sliced red onion, ketchup, and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast; or lettuce, chutney and mustard.
Makes about 12 patties. These may be stored tightly wrapped in the fridge up to 4 days (they firm up even more after the first day). May be frozen up to 3 months.
What? Can it really be that a week has gone by already? While it does feel like a long time since I’ve been blogging (and boy, did I ever miss it), I am amazed at how quickly these seven days have whizzed by.
So, how did I spend my week of catch-up?
First, I resolved to eat only food that is 100% good for me. I ate exclusively organic, healthy, completely unprocessed fruits, vegetables, brown rice and soy products. I never once had a craving for chocolate–or anything sweet, actually–and didn’t even attempt a baked good. The Girls were model citizens, never whining, and playing perfectly with each other (and never waking us up before 7:00 AM to go out and “do their business”). Oh, and I lost FIFTEEN POUNDS! FIFTEEN, can you believe it?? As luck would have it, my old boyfriend called me up just as I was feeling pretty good about myself, and we met for drinks and, oops, I drank a little too much. . . .but just as things were about to heat up, I caught the eye of a dashingly handsome (in that slightly edgy, slightly anachronistic way), very roguish guy named James T. Kirk and we were inexplicably drawn to each other. . . strange, the romance never went beyond chaste kissing, for some reason. . .
I marked exams, marked assignments, marked exams, marked papers, answered emails, marked exams, went to meetings, marked exams, marked exams. Finally finished the pile of exams!
I trudged through snow and rain and sleet with The Girls. Twice a day. In the snow. And sleet. Having to wear a hat wrecked my hair. Many times.
It snowed. It snowed, snowed, snowed, and then snowed some more. We have now exceeded the all-time record for snowfall in a single season in Toronto. Something like 280 centimeters (about 110 inches). Of snow. Fallen on the ground. Snow.
I decided that I have to move somewhere where winter (and snow) does not exist.
I returned to WOCA, with even stronger resolve. I foresee this ending up more like MOCA or even YOCA, as I seem unable to resist the allure of that evil temptress, chocolate. I managed to avoid the dark devil during this past week (except for minute bites–see next bullet), but in inverse proportion to eating foods like nuts or dried fruits, which help assuage cravings. Still, nothing baked, nothing with chocolate, nothing with added sweeteners, and I can at least feel good about that.
(Perhaps best of all): I managed to test out out FIVE (count ‘em, five) recipes from my new cookbook by Nava Atlas, Vegan Express. I will post a genuine book review this week, but for today, will share the dishes from my cooking class (not literally, of course, since this isn’t really the alternative universe, which means food can’t be passed through the computer screen. . .but if I could do it, I would).
Okay, so not so shabby, I suppose, considering I was a psychological mess at the beginning of the week. THANK YOU all again for your very dear comments. Man, I wish I could invite you all over for an afternoon tea and baked goodies! Instead, my sincere gratitude will have to do.
And so. . . .the cooking class. Easy to replicate (even more so if you live on the Enterprise). Sure, what the heck, go ahead and do try this at home. Here’s how (explained at warp speed):
First, get yourself an assistant*. Have her prep all the food for you in advance by measuring, cleaning, peeling, chopping, and setting up the mise en place.
Put on apron and chef’s pillbox hat (Très à la mode).
Enjoy your own sample servings of both dishes. . . recipes, below.
And it only took four bullet points (that’s two hours in real time). I made these two dishes because they always seem to please non-vegetarians, and you never know who’ll turn up to these classes. Oh, and they’re both gluten-free (if you serve the sauce over GF pasta, of course). I’m also submitting this pasta recipe to Ruth of Once Upon A Feast, who hosts the popular event, Presto Pasta Nights.
These photos were taken on store plates–disposables–so there’s no pretty porcelain under these dishes. Apologies!
Spaghetti with Lentil-Tomato Sauce
This recipe has been a staple in my house for so long (predating the HH, even) that I don’t remember any longer where it originated. The grated parsnip provides a subtle, meaty taste (parsnips can be quite savory and earthy), without declaring itself too glaringly, as the bits tend to dissolve in the sauce as it simmers. It’s also a perfect dish for all you Inter-Diet couples. My HH simply adds his own ground beef or cut up pieces of sausage to the sauce after he dishes out his own.
2 c. finely chopped red onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium parsnip, peeled and grated fine
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil1 c. dried green lentils, rinsed and picked over
3-1/2 c. vegetable broth
1 large can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
1 small can tomato paste
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried parsley or 1/4 c. fresh chopped parsley
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper or 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, minced, or a good sprinkle of hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
Salt and pepper, to taste
One 1-pound package dry whole-grain spaghetti (kamut pasta is great)
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.Add the onion, garlic, and parsnip, lower heat, and sauté, stirring frequently, until onion is golden, about 7 minutes. Stir in the lentils along with the broth and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and add tomatoes, herbs and spices. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, about 25 minutes. If sauce begins to get too thick, add more stock, 1/4 cup at a time, as needed.
Meanwhile, boil pasta according to package directions.Just before serving, drain pasta and top with sauce.Serve immediately, sprinkled with nutritional yeast or, if you prefer, grated cheese.
Makes 6 servings. May be frozen.
Avocado Pesto Salad
The salad is my attempt to invite a touch of spring into a dreary winter. Because pine nuts are so lovely sprinkled on a salad, I’ve left them whole, and used avocado (which lends a wonderful richness to the dressing) blended with basil to replicate the pesto base. Dress only as much as you’ll eat at one sitting–the salad wilts fairly quickly after it’s been dressed (whereas the opposite is true of me when I encounter that seductive Negative-James T Kirk character).
For the dressing:
1 very ripe avocado, peeled and cut in eighths
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup packed (about 40 grams) fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup packed fresh parsley or cilantro
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients for the dressing in a blender, and blend until smooth.
For the salad:
about 6 cups organic baby greens
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
1 green onion, sliced (optional)
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts or walnut pieces
In a large salad bowl, combine the greens, tomatoes, and onion.
Pour dressing over all, then sprinkle with nuts.Toss and serve. Serves 6.
*For some reason, this line reminded me of Steve Martin’s classic bit about how to be a millionaire and never pay taxes: “Yes, YOU can be a millionaire, and never pay taxes. That’s right! A MILLIONAIRE, and NEVER pay taxes. First, get a million dollars. . . .” Well, I suppose if you had an assistant to prep everything for you every night, making dinner would be just as easy.