Condiment Queen

So I have a secret.  I miss creamy, gooey food.  I’ve had it recently enough that I know that most creamy, gooey food will require me to go hardcore kale smoothie for a few days, but  still miss it.  It would seem that our food memories and preferences don’t always line up with the decisions we’ve made.  and so my kitchen dabbling, in addition to requiring me to throw garlic/thyme/basil/and olive oil into everything, tends to focus a bit on finding creamy gooey that won’t make me feel icky pooey…..  Nice one, huh?  And in this vein, I’ve made a discovery.  It is a true condiment – not something I’d want to sit down and eat by the spoonful (and therefore fundamentally unlike sunflower cheez spread), but good anywhere that a bit of creamy gooey goes.  I’ve used it with kale; I’ve used it with salsa; I’ve used it with pasta; and I used it in biscuits….  fabulous glorious home baked biscuits.  And now, I shall share it all with you.  Cause I’m nice like that.  And so I give you….

Not So Sour Cream – adapted from everydaydishtv

  • 1 3/4 cups hemp seeds, cashews or pine nuts (I mixed them)
  • 1 t apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1/4 t salt
  • juice from a lemon
  • water as needed for consistency

Food processor.  Fill it and leave on while you’re doing anything else you can think of in the kitchen.  When it’s ready – creamy gooey smoothness.  What to do with it?  I’m sure you can think of things to do with sour cream, but maybe you’re not so sure what to do with vegan not so sour cream…  Why, creamy kale, of course.

Creamed Kale

  • olive oil for pan
  • large clove garlic, mashed, minced, whatever
  • giant bunch of kale, de-stemmed and ripped into smaller pieces
  • 1/4 c Not So Sour Cream

Warm oil in pan.  Saute garlic until you can breathe it.  Turn heat down a little (below medium is good).  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and cover with lid so improve the wilting for the top leaves.  Stir occasionally to prevent overcooking.  When wilt is done, lower heat further and add NSSC and stir to distribute and warm through.  There.  Creamy fantastically healthy goodness.

Next Up?

Super Smooth Salsa

Mix your favorite salsa with NSSC for the balance of acidic zippy creamy deliciousness that appeals to you.  One might be tempted to dip a tortilla chip in such a concoction.  I confess I am a Triscuit dipper.  There, now you know.

Got a full fridge and nothing to eat?

Coronary Free Creamy Pasta

Chop some onion and mince a clove of garlic.  Warm olive oil in pan – add onions and a touch of salt and let them cook down until translucent and soft.  Add garlic.  While this is happening, grab your leftover pasta (quinoa, rice, couscous, whatever).  Warm in whatever way you like.  Add NSSC to warm pasta and stir in your yummy alliums.  Fan-flippin-tastic.

And yes, I did also say biscuits…

Vegan Cream Biscuits – adapted from happyherbivore.com

  • 2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 5 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 4 T NSSC
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 c non-dairy milk

Preheat oven to 400.  Stir together dry ingredients.  Put in food processor, add NSSC and olive oil.  Pulse until the clumps of creaminess and fat are not clumping.  Return to bowl and stir in  non-milk.  Drop in 1/4c blobs onto greased baking sheet (or use parchment).  Bake in oven on low rack for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and slather with whatever floats your biscuit boat.  I had mine with date cream and a kale salad on the side.  Delish.

Don’t Want to Cook? So Don’t – Eat This!

While I love to cook, I know that there are many people who do not.  Eating affordable nutritious food without cooking is pretty much a non-starter most of the time in my opinion, but there are many nutritious dishes out there that are so simple to prepare, that anyone (even someone who HATES to cook) can master them with ease.  Even those of us who like to cook can use a break from hovering over hot pans now and again.  When this happens to me, provided it’s even remotely warm, I look to the garden to see what’s available and build from there.  Right now the garden is ALL about greens.  Kale, spinach, romaine lettuce.  But what to do with them that I haven’t already done millions of times?

Righteous Veggies

Namul where have you been all my life?  Cruising through a cookbook the other night (yes, I have an exciting life), I came across a picture I couldn’t get past.  It was green and beautiful and the food photography makeover (which included edible flowers and a lovely rustic wooden table underneath) did wonders.  I was REALLY drawn to the food, so I settled in to read about it.  Spinach Namul.  I had no idea what that meant.  Now, I do.  So here we go, stretching ourselves just beyond the boundaries…

Namul is a Korean dish that typically involves vegetables, some kind of vinegar or soy sauce, sesame oil, and sometimes chili, garlic, sesame seeds.  The vegetables marinate, so if they are remotely tough, they soften or wilt and they pick up the flavor of the other ingredients WITHOUT COOKING THEM.  Got that?  If you are one of those who does not care to cook (a subject I’d like to come back to at some point here), this is the dish for you.  I’ll give you the recipe the way I made it but a more refined version can be found in  Ani Phyo‘s Ani’s Raw Food Asia, which is a lovely book and one that I would recommend for a peek by anyone who’s trying to eat more veggies.

Ready for Rice!

MY FIRST NAMUL serves 2 as the main event, 4 as a side

  • 4 c spinach, washed and dried
  • 2 t soy sauce (or Bragg’s)
  • 2 t toasted sesame oil
  • 1 small clove garlic, made small however you like
  • 1 t sesame seeds

Place everything but sesame seeds in large bowl and toss.  Ideally you should massage this with your hands.  I was doing a bunch of other things at the same time, and decided to use utensils instead.  Set aside and let marinate for 20-30 minutes, tossing periodically.  Add sesame seeds, toss and serve.  Yes, that’s it.  How to eat it?  You could use it as a side dish for any protein you like.  OR you could do what I did and serve it on top of brown rice with warmed frozen peas and a chopped up asparagus stalk (there’s that asparagus again!  still coming a few stalks at a time).  Delish.

My poor husband missed the first round, so he had it as leftovers, which worked really well, and all he needed to do was warm the rice, then pile on everything else.  If it had been a hot day, he said it would have been just as good with the rice cold.  It would seem that at least in our house this is a crowd pleaser.  And the simple nutrition of it got me to thinking.  Surely there would be other combinations that might work as well.

Ani Phyo’s book has a variety of namuls, different vegetables, the occasional chili thrown in.  I was wondering if the principle of the namul, greens wilted through marinating, could be used with other flavor combinations.  Since we’ve been eating less meat, I’ve been using a lot of Asian flavors.  We LOVE Asian food, but it would be good to expand the repertoire a little bit….  I decided to try a Italian twist on namul (I can’t seem to stop myself from going Italian).  And it was super yum.

Mediterranean Wilted Greens

  • 4 c geens, roughly chopped (I used kale)
  • 2 t balsamic vinegar
  • 2 t olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1 T pine nuts (or really whatever nut you have that you like)
  • 2 t raisins or currants (optional)

I’m betting you can guess what to do here.  Throw everything but the pine nuts and raisins if you use them in a bowl and massage or toss.  The thicker your greens, the more you should mix, and the more time you want to give it to marinate (20-30 mins).  When done, add pine nuts and raisins (if you choose).  I served mine with whole wheat shells and garbanzo beans.  Delish.

How else could we change it?  A French version of the Mediterranean greens might use wine vinegar and add a bit of fresh thyme and parsley.  A Japanese version of the original namul might use rice vinegar instead of soy sauce, and come with a side of wasabi, or have nori flakes broken into it.  Yum.  The possibilities are endless.  And they’re all SUPER nutritious.  WAHOOTIE!  Let’s hear it for namul!!