I’ve never been the type of person who handles big changes well, particularly if they include a great deal of pre-planning and anticipation. For this reason, I’m not particularly good at grand resolutions for the new year. Don’t get me wrong, I can list my goals like a champ, but even as I write them down, there’s a part of me that knows that I’ll only be able to manage them for a day or before sliding into my old ways.
This doesn’t mean that I lead an entirely static life. Just that I’ve had to develop ways to work around my innate desire to resist change. For example, during the holidays, my eating habits started to slide a little bit (I can’t imagine I’m the only one who experienced this). I went from a girl who drank green smoothies for breakfast to someone who started her day with two cups of homemade Chex Mix (what? It contains cereal!). Something had to be done!
Instead of resolving to change everything on January first (that would have been asking for dramatic and immediate failure), I started with just entertaining the idea of finding ways to get more vegetables into my life. By getting my brain on board first and approaching it with thoughts of addition instead of subtraction (and thankfully, the Chex Mix is all gone), I’ve been able to make the shift.
The other thing that has helped this ‘more vegetable’ habit is cookbook that showed up in my mailbox back in November. Called the Candle 79 Cookbook (published by Ten Speed Press), it is bursting with gorgeous, appealing vegetable-focused recipes. It’s written by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos, and Jorge Pineda of New York’s Candle 79 and Candle Cafe. Both are vegan restaurants that stress the importance of organic, farm-fresh vegetables.
And though I’m no vegan (and have not even the most latent desires to give up meat and dairy), I do have a highly developed appreciation for the kind well-conceived veg-focused recipe that this book features. I’ve earmarked at least 12 recipes and have added ingredients for Granny Smith Coleslaw, Spinach-Mushroom Pate and Butternut Squash and Chestnut Soup to my shopping list.
Earlier today, I whirred up a batch of the Smoked Paprika Hummus found on page 17 of the book. While it’s not exactly a vegetable, have such things around encourage me to eat more veg, which is also a big help. I used canned garbanzo beans (the book also gives instruction for making it from dried beans, but alas, I did not plan that far in advance), a bit less cayenne than called for (I wanted to ensure that my spice-averse husband would be able to eat it) and cilantro in place of the flat leaf parsley (it’s what I had in the fridge).
As so often happens to me when I make hummus, I was astounded at how fast it came together (you’d think I’d have learned this lesson by now) and how cheaply too. The recipe made a scant quart for right around $3. Best of all, it tastes wonderful. I ate it with the remains of a bag of baby carrots and, when they were all gone, I ate it by the fingerful. Truly, delicious. If you want to try it, the official, straight-from-the-book recipe is after the jump.
- 1 cup dried chickpeas, or 2 (15.5-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, plus more for garnish
- 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
- 1⁄3 cup tahini
- Optional garnishes: roasted red bell peppers, roasted garlic, lemon slices, olives, mint or parsley sprigs
- If using dried chickpeas, put them in a saucepan or bowl and add cold water to cover by about 2 inches. Soak in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse.
- Put the chickpeas in a saucepan and add cold water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat, cover, and simmer until the chickpeas are tender, 50 to 60 minutes. Drain and let cool, reserving 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup of the cooking water.
- Combine the chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, cayenne, paprika, salt, pepper, parsley, olive oil, and tahini in a bowl and stir to mix well. Transfer the mixture to a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until well mixed. Add 1⁄4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid (or water or vegetable stock if using canned chickpeas) and process until smooth and almost fluffy. Add more liquid if necessary. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (The hummus can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated. Return to room temperature before serving.)
- To serve, drizzle a bit of olive oil over the hummus and sprinkle a bit of paprika. Serve with desired garnishes.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Candle 79 Cookbook: Modern Vegan Classics from New York’s Premier Sustainable Restaurant. Copyright © 2011 by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos, and Jorge Pineda. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this cookbook. However, my opinions are all my own.