Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Walnut Sauce (with Pasta)

I know I've been quiet for a while; things are happening. The class I teach. The other job. It's festival season in Louisiana! And in that quiet time, I have come back from the land of vegan with some homemade pizza, a new old fondue set and some incredible cornmeal cookies. That's all on its way, but I have a few more vegan recipes of the moment. Not to say there won't be vegan options sprinkled throughout in the future, but before I move back to mixed terrain, I just have a couple more things to say about being animal free.

I founds this recipe in my "Vegetarian for Everyone" book. It was last summer and I was trying to come up with something to do with green beans, aside from douse them in butter. I don't actually like green beans all that much, but I tend to buy things when they're in season, just to keep it interesting. I still don't <3 style="font-style: italic;">

for the walnut sauce
3/4 c. walnuts

2-3 cloves garlic

1/4 tsp salt

fresh ground white pepper

2-3 tbsp olive oil
  1. With a mortar and pestle or a food processor, grind walnuts, garlic, salt and pepper until relatively smooth.
  2. Add olive oil one tbsp at a time until desired consistency.
  3. Done and done.
for the green beans
  1. Boil water with a healthy pinch of salt.
  2. As water boils, trims green beans. When boiling, dump them in and cook for just about a minute or until the beans are a bright green color. No longer, or they get soggy. I would always err on the side of under cooking here, because green beans are still good raw, but they taste like icky mush if they're over cooked.
  3. Drain.
You can do the broccoli similarly, although I usually pan steam my broccoli, because I don't want it to pick up too much water. This means heating a little olive oil in a pan over medium heat, throwing the broccoli in, adding about an 1/8 c. of water and putting a lid over it. Again, cook until broccoli is bright green and tender - easy to test it with the prongs of a fork.

If you have a lot of pots and space, you can prepare the pasta as you prepare the green beans. Since I don't, and I don't have a dishwasher and am always trying to consolidate dirty dishes, I did the green beans first and then boiled more water and cooked the pasta in the same pot. I used whole wheat linguine here, but whatever pasta's your pleasure would work fine. I also see this with bowties.

When the pasta has been drained, just toss together. You'll have to eyeball how much pasta etc you need for how many people you're feeding. I'd say this is generally pretty subjective. This makes plenty of walnut sauce - when I made it it was for 2 and I've eaten it twice since then and there's still a ton, so I would say you could easily feed six with this. You may need to add a little extra olive oil to the pasta. Don't be shy. It's the good kind of fat.

Punjabi Turnips?

This is a recipe that I took from “World Vegetarian” againagain and messed with. Twice. I'm going to put the vegan version because my non-vegan version needs another run, but I'll explain so you can do your own run if it suits.

3 tbsp peanut or canola oil

¾ c. finely chopped onions

1 tbsp finely grated ginger

3 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed to a pulp

½ c. finely chopped very ripe tomatoes

1 fresh hot green chile, finely chopped

¼ tsp ground turmeric

¼ tsp cayenne

1 tsp salt

½ lb waxy red potatoes and ½ lb. turnips, peeled, cut into 1inch dice and put in a bowl of cold water

(3/4 - 1 1/2 c. plain yogurt)

1 tsp garam masala

  1. Put the oil in a large frying pan or wide pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the onions. Stir and fry until they are medium brown. Put in the ginger and garlic. Stir for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, green chile, turmeric, cayenne and salt. Turn the heat to medium and stir for 2 minutes.

  2. Drain the potatoes and add to pan. Add 1 ½ c. water. Stir to mix and bring to a boil.

  3. Cover, turn the heat down to low, and simmer gently until the potatoes are tender, cooking about 20 min. Stir occasionally.

  4. Uncover, turn the heat to medium, and cook another 10 min or until the sauce has slightly reduced and is thick. Sprinkle the garam masala over the top and stir gently to mix. Serve hot.

First caveat: this is originally a purely potatoes recipe. I added the turnips as part of my ongoing edible turnips project. I don't really like them. There, I said it. I don't really like turnips.

But they're cheap, and there's something romantic about root vegetables. Something about the idea of root cellars and the careful planning that used to have to go into winter eating. Something about the bounty of each season, the turn from strawberries and tomatoes to acorn squash and rutabaga. Something about my penchant for the difficult. I will eat this difficult veggie. I will eat it and I will like it and I will make it so good that you will like it too.

This isn't a bad option. The turnip's texture and flavor suits this style of Indian cooking, and mixing it in with the potatoes dilutes the turnipness of things. It's like a spoonful of sugar; a spoonful of potatoes.

Maybe I'm cheating. But I ate every last bit.

Second caveat: yogurt. I originally came across this recipe when I was trying to get rid of some red potatoes I'd purchased to make potato salad. Forgetting I don't really like potato salad that much – only my mom and one friend can make it worthwhile, and while I have faith that I can also succeed where so many diners have failed, I wasn't in the mood. So instead, this Punjabi dish.

The thing missing for me was the cream. I was hoping for an Indian dish with cream – that texture, that sauciness. So instead of water, I used yogurt. I happen to have had some fresh goat's milk yogurt from the farmer's market, which seemed appropriate. And it was. And it was good, taste-wise.

The problem being, the potatoes don't cook as well in the yogurt. I cooked them as long as I had patience for – which at the moment wasn't as long as I might usually – and they were still to hard. So I would try some water/yogurt combo. Perhaps half and half. This is the next run and I'll report back. Or you should try it, and report back for me.