Thursday, October 21, 2010

Guacamole and Asparagus Feasting!

I had an amazing time in my kitchen last night.  So many vegetables said goodbye to the world, and it was glorious!  My apartment's refrigerator (which I am not complaining about at all, because the last one leaked and management replaced it immediately) has a tendency to freeze everything in the very back of the freezer and to undercool everything else.  So the first thing that had to go was a beautiful bunch of asparagus with slightly soft tips (bad!) and frozen ends (not so bad, really).  I have never made vegan asparagus cream soup before, but let me tell you, it's pretty darn hard to mess up asparagus!  I thought it was pretty darn fantastic.

I also had my first-ever successful foray into the world of baking your own vegetable chips.  We're having people over tonight, and I thought I'd practice yesterday.  (The secret, as I found out, is to grease the baking sheet!  Rocket science, I know.  I felt pretty silly when I realized that, let me tell you.)  I thought they were pretty darn good, and so did the boyfriend, who is notoriously picky.  He can get past the "sweet potato" part when he hears the "chip" addendum.   I felt very proud when I figured this out.

The last recipe is my dearly beloved guacamole, which my mother and I are nuts over.  We've tinkered with this recipe for years, and I think I may finally have a world's-best-guacamole recipe.  Just maybe.  It's a contender, at the very least.  But here they all are!  And, not least...they're all vegan and all part of a starch-based Natalia Rose dinner.  I was so proud.  =)

Creamy Vegan Asparagus Soup
Serves 2-4

1 bunch asparagus, chopped
1 sweet onion, diced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1-2 cloves garlic
Spike Vegetable Seasoning, to taste
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Pinch herbes de Provence
2 cups original flavor almond milk
1 lime, juiced
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Sweat the onions in a tablespoon of olive oil until translucent; add a few pinches of salt and pepper.

Add the chopped asparagus, the garlic, the white wine, the red pepper flakes, the herbes de Provence, and the Spike seasoning; simmer for about 3 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Turn down the heat to Medium and add the almond milk.

Stir and simmer for about 1 minute, then pour into a high-speed blender.  (Oh, you with the Vitamix god, I envy you so much.  I want one desperately.)  Blend very well.

Pour back into the pot and add salt, pepper, and Spike to taste.  Add the juice of the lime, stir well, and voila!  Magnificent savory magnificence!

Sweet Potato Vegetable Chips
Serves 2-4


2 sweet potatoes, washed (or a combination of other vegetables, like zucchini, parsnips, beets, carrots, yucca, etc.)
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Optional:  herbes de Provence, rosemary, garlic, dill, or your favorite spices

Preheat the oven to 375.  Cover two baking sheets with aluminum foil (less mess!) and grease it with olive oil.

Slice the raw vegetables into very thin slices on a mandoline, or just slice them very thinly with a knife.  I like to leave the skin on; it keeps in a few nutrients, tastes good, and looks interesting.  Take each slice of vegetable and rub it onto the greased baking sheet, on both sides.  Arrange the slices closely but do not overlap them.  Sprinkle chips with salt and pepper, or anything else you like (just on one side; otherwise it ends up waaay too overseasoned)

Bake for 13 minutes.  Remove from oven, turn the slices over, and bake for 10 more minutes.  Let chips cool while still on sheet and NOT overlapping; if they do, they will get soggy.  They crisp up after they come out of the oven; so don't worry if they are pliable when they come out.  Transfer to a bowl and scoop up some guacamole!

Out-Of-This-World Guacamole
Serves 4-6

3 very ripe avocados

1 sweet onion, minced
2 tomatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 limes, juiced
3 shakes cumin
2 shakes cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste

Run your knife lengthwise down each avocado and split it in half.  Grab the pit by sticking your knife into it and pulling/twisting the knife and pit out; discard the pit IN THE TRASH; NOT IN THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL.  Take your knife and slice the avocado up in a chess-board grid pattern while still in its skin; do not cut through the skin.  Take a spoon and run it around the inside of the skin, letting all the avocado chunks fall out into your mixing bowl.  Repeat for each avocado half.  Take a fork and mash the avocados up pretty well until you get the consistency you want (some may like it very finely mashed, while I like a few chunks), and remember, this is easier the riper the avocados are.

Add in the minced onion, the tomatoes, the garlic, the cilantro, the cumin, the lime juice, and the cayenne pepper; mix well.  Taste, and add in salt and pepper as needed.  Scoop up with an amazing sweet potato chip and smile as your taste buds dance!

My final recipe for the evening is for all those out there who aren't as into the health food thing but have people who cook for them who are.  It's a thin-crust pizza:  take a 10-inch wrap, place it on a greased baking sheet, add a small amount of sauce, some cheese, and up to two toppings of your choice (the boyfriend likes pepperoni with some herbes de Provence)--slide into a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes, and you have a thin-crust pizza!  Fast and simple--and with far fewer simple carbohydrates than getting pizza delivered.  And it's cheaper!  Mmmmmm.