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Monday, January 31, 2011

Stocked Summer Fridge

I walked out to my car after work to find that it wasn't pitch black outside yet. It was only mostly dark. That means that springtime is on the way which means I need to focus on eating healthier. The problem with home cooked meals is that while they're not usually as fatty as going out, when I'm in the kitchen, butter is a necessity. Particularly for the comfort meals that come along with the winter. This time of year, the hot peppers start coming back in season and I can find a half-decent selection of fruits and vegetables to snack on.
It's also getting to be sandwich season. I love cold deli sandwiches when the weather is warm. There's something divine about knowing you can stack that sandwich as tall as you want with fixin's and you'll never feel guilty eating it. I love a good pile of spinach and cucumbers on my sandwiches.

In any sense, fresh vegetables and cold sandwiches require dips and spreads. Enter hummus and pesto.

Hummus is very quickly becoming a year-round necessity in my fridge. It's incredibly easy to make, full of protein, versatile, tasty, and easily customizable. I sadly, don't think I had ever put hummus in my mouth until I moved to Oregon. It didn't take long to make an impression though.

1 can Garbanzo Beans, drained and rinsed
approx. 2 Tbsp. Tahini*
2-4 cloves garlic
juice from one lemon
olive oil

*Tahini is a paste made from roasted sesame seeds. It's rich in protein and can be used in a variety of applications. It comes in a glass jar with a screw top lid - I can usually find it in the health/vegan aisle of the grocery store.

To make, simply put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. I like mine to be pretty creamy so I use a fair amount of olive oil and lemon juice but you can make it as chunky or runny as you'd like. I use hummus as a spread for sandwiches and wraps or as a dip for vegetables or flat bread.

Pesto is nothing short of splendor as far as I'm concerned. I love how refreshing it is when made from scratch. Pesto is great for dipping, used as a spread, or made into a sauce for pasta or chicken. Again, this is incredibly easy to make and easily customizable.

One large bunch of fresh basil leaves, cleaned and dried
3 medium cloves of garlic
One small handful of raw pine nuts
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
approx. 2 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil

Put basil, garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil in a food processor and blend well. Add Parmesan and blend. Done.
You can add or take away to your liking. I found several recipes that called for a pinch of nutmeg but after trying it, I'm not a fan. However, being a lover of spices, I do add a fair amount of freshly cracked black pepper.
Do whatever you want, just make it your own.

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