Nicole and I held a dinner party last night for our buddies from Wesleyan. We love to cook together and had all these recipes we wanted to try out, and realized we needed a group of folks to eat all the yummies we wanted to make! Luckily our delightful friends in New York could join us for Saturday night dinner.
As soon as I walked into Nicole's apartment, we made a delicious Mango Maple Lassi. We added some sugar and lemon juice, and it came out pretty good.
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk (any kind you like)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 mango, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon maple syrup, or more to taste
Chuck it all into a blender and, well, blend. Drink. Smile.
Our menu for the evening started out with White Bean Roasted Red Pepper Dip. I wanted to make this bcause I don't really like hummus, but there's a hummus-style dip at Trader Joe's that I really like, and it's made with white beans instead of chickpeas. The dip came out okay, but I added a second can of white beans because it seemed pretty liquidy at first. Next time I would use many more beans, less lemon juice, and rinse the peppers really well to reduce all the extra liquid content. This might have been better with carrots and veggies rather than crackers.
1 15-ounce can of white cannelini or navy beans
1 small jar roasted red peppers, or about 1 cup, drained
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice from half a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Puree everything in a food processor until smooth.
For dinner we had a trio of salads and a delicious lentil soup, made by Nicole before I arrived. During dinner we realized that all our salads were vegan! Amazing! Our friend Chris, Tom's wonderful and cute boyfriend, told me that though he's quite the carnivore, he felt totally satisfied by the veggie cuisine. Score!
Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad
This looked and tasted beautiful. Despite a mini-debaucle involving the pan of roasting butternut squash almost ending up on the floor of the oven, Nicole saved the day and rescued the little squashies, leading us to a recipe success. This tahini dressing was delicious and easy, also -- the only sauce of the day that did not require a food processor. And a great way for us to use the last few butternuts of the season!
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoons ground allspice (I skip this)
2 tablespoons olive oil
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (1 1/2 cups)
1/4 of a medium red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
For tahini dressing:
1 medium garlic clove, finely minced with a pinch of salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash, garlic, allspice, olive oil, and a few pinches of salt. Toss the squash pieces until evenly coated. Roast them on a baking sheet for 25 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the oven and cool.
Meanwhile, make the tahini dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic and lemon juice. Add the tahini, and whisk to blend. Add the water and olive oil, whisk well, and taste for seasoning. The sauce should have plenty of nutty tahini flavor, but also a little kick of lemon. You will probably need to add more water to thin it out.
To assemble the salad, combine the squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro or parsley in a mixing bowl. Either add the tahini dressing to taste, and toss carefully, or you could serve the salad with the dressing on the side. Serve immediately.
Beets with Walnut-Garlic Sauce
2 pounds red beets, about 4 large, trimmed of greens
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash beets well. While still wet, wrap them individually in foil and place on a cookie sheet or roasting pan. Bake beets, undisturbed, for 60 to 90 minutes, until a thin-bladed knife pierces each with little resistance. (They may cook at different rates; remove each one when it is done.)
2. Meanwhile, put oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. When it is warm, add garlic and cook until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. Add walnuts and continue to cook until they begin to color, about another 4 minutes. Let mixture cool slightly and then put it in a small food processor; process until you have a relatively smooth paste. Add orange juice to taste and sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper.
3. After beets have cooled, peel off skins. Slice beets into wedges or cubes and toss with dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnish with parsley and serve.
Peanut Sesame Noodles
For peanut dressing
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 medium garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons Asian toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes or a splash of the hot sauce or chili paste of your choice
3/4 lb dried soba nooodles (dried linguine fini or spaghetti will work in a pinch)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips
Half a seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
1 cup firm or extra-firm tofu, cubed
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
Puree dressing ingredients in a blender until smooth, about 2 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl.
Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until tender. Drain in a colander, then rinse well under cold water.
Add pasta, scallions, bell peppers, cucumber and tofu to dressing, tossing to combine. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately.
Thanks to our wonderful friends for eating this food, giving us compliments, and bringing blueberry pie, cupcakes, and three-buck chuck!