Friday, May 11, 2012

Condiments, Dips, and Pestos

It's summer time, and the snacking's easy.  Coming soon are the chic little garden parties, the cocktail fundraisers, and the horse races I wish I was invited to.

Whether you're sick of lifeless filets of fish or tired of bland bowls of rice, condiments can be a saving grace.  Here's a trinity of fun and easy dips for your snacking pleasure!

As a side note, I'm in Beacon Hill right now, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in America.  I'm down the street from a house that's retailing $32 million.  The healthiest food in the local grocery store is Doritos.  That's America for you.

nori condiment
5-6 sheets nori seaweed
1/4 to 1/2 c. water
dash tamari
optional minced scallions, minced garlic, dulse sprinkles
Rip nori sheets to small pieces, and stir with water in a small saucepan.  Slowly bring to boil, stirring gently until sheets dissolve.  Add dash of tamari and/or optional ingredients, reduce to simmer, and simmer for 2-3 more minutes.

natto-scallion spread
1/2 cup natto, available where most macro food is sold
2 tbsp. minced scallions
1 tsp. dijon mustard
Natto is pretty radical stuff.  This is a way to make this incredibly healing food more palatable.  I'm investing in a box next week and playing around with 3-4 different natto combinations, so stay tuned.  I'm thinking of doing a sweet/savory ginger and miso natto combo, but I don't want to post that here untried.  Natto with dijon mustard is one of the most bizarre combos I've ever tried, but it's freaking delicious.

cilantro-walnut pesto
2 c whole raw walnuts
1 bunch fresh cilantro
4 garlic cloves, rough-chopped
1/2 to 1 c. olive oil
1/2 fresh-squeezed lemon
sea salt to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Roast your walnuts until golden brown and releasing oil, about 5-7 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Rough-chop cilantro and garlic into pieces your blender can manage.  Crush cool walnuts with your hands.  Add cilantro, garlic, and walnuts to blender in alternating layers, pulsing to combine as you go. The trick to this is liquid, liquid, liquid.  If your ingredients aren't mixing evenly, you need to add more oil and lemon juice.  Continue to add ingredients and pulse until it takes on that distinctive pesto-like texture.

Once your ingredients are added and it's been salted to your taste, the key is to add enough oil that the cilantro is never exposed to air.  Once it hits the air, the green starts to oxidize and turn a yucky-looking brown.  Nobody wants that.  Enjoy your pesto!

P.S.  That's my homemade pesto.  I just used an old salsa jar because we reduce, reuse and recycle 'round here.

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