Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Assorted small plates

In addition to being vegan, we try to eat low fat, which means very little or no added oil most of the time. But over the weekend we had several high fat meals and by Monday I was feeling a little ill (and guilty) and needed to get back to eating low fat again. For dinner on Monday I decided to do a couple of no oil added dishes to get back on track. I get pretty hung up on menu planning and don’t normally mix “genres” of food, like Korean and Mediterranean, but my craving for Korean spinach got the better of me so I broke my own rules.

The Mediterranean dishes are both dips that go well with whole wheat pita chips, which are simple to make with store bought pitas. The muhammara is a red pepper dip that I wrote about recently. Because I was craving lower fat food, I cut the walnuts back to ¼ cup but otherwise kept the recipe the same. The white bean dip is an oil-less blend of well-cooked white beans, roasted garlic, lemon juice and basil. You don’t really need a recipe for it, since you can just mix everything together until it tastes right, but I have one friend who will complain if I don’t give some guidelines.

In Korean cooking, banchan are small side dishes that accompany every meal. Most are vegetarian and many are vegan. Is this spinach dish an authentic banchan? No, but it captures the essence well. It’s one of my favorite ways to make spinach or other greens and I get huge cravings for it at times.

White Bean Dip

2 cups of cooked white beans (yes you can use canned, but really, start to make real beans)
¼ cup roasted garlic puree
1 tablespoon (or more) of finely chopped fresh basil
Juice of 1-2 lemons (taste it after adding the juice of one – if you think it needs more, add more)
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Puree all the ingredients in a food processor or blender (or use an immersion blender). Taste it to make sure it’s balanced and add more salty, lemon juice, basil or garlic as you see fit. If it’s too thick, thin it with a little water.

Spinach banchan

6 oz. cleaned spinach
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of red chile paste (sambal oelek or similar) or to taste
1 tablespoon sugar (any kind, white, brown, turbinado, etc.)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 inch piece of ginger grated
1 teaspoon sesame seeds toasted

Blanch the spinach for 30 seconds. Drain and refresh in cold water. Squeeze dry to remove excess water. Chop finely and set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Taste to make sure it has a good balance (if it seems out of whack alter it to suite your tastes and mood). Add the chopped spinach and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Toasted pita chips

Preheat oven to 350. Cut each pita into sixths. Separate the layers and place on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 5 – 8 minutes until dried and lightly browned.

1 comment:

  1. Small plates are such a fun way to eat! Great selection!