The parents have returned from their winter in Puerto Rico and that gives me a chance to make things that are a pain in the neck to do up for one adult, but seem like no work at all for a lavish spread for three grown-ups and a kid who likes couscous (especially seasoned with pesto) and asparagus. Plus, make loads and leftovers are guaranteed and you know I love that!
This sudden inspiration came straight from the pantry: jarred artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers, black olives, garbanzos from a can, that type of thing. From the fridge: feta, tomatoes, cukes, asparagus.
How fun would it be to lay out mezze (Mediterranean small dishes) with a variety of salad ingredients and sit all together for a change?
So I did and it was fun and crunchy and creamy and delicious.
“Look how pretty mine came out!” said the moms, who is a bit relieved to be eating with us again (because yes, the dad is still on that cockamamie up-and-down vegan diet that I want nothing to do with – although enabler that I am, I did make him some alternative tahini dressing with no garlic, since sesame seeds — the main ingredient of tahini — grow above ground and garlic grows under…seriously? Anyway, not worth discussing; the REAL recipe below is lovely and garlicky, as God intended)
Roasted asparagus: Rinse and break off bottoms of a 1 lb. bunch of asparagus. (They break naturally at the woody part; or break off one and slice off the rest at around the same place) Smear with two teaspoons of olive oil and roast at 450 for 10 minutes (skinny spears) to 15 minutes (fat spears). Finish with flaky sea salt.
Roasted eggplant: Rinse and cut a large eggplant into one-inch chunks (for older eggplant that feels a bit soft to the touch, put in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Put a weighted bowl on top and another bowl to catch the drippings. Leave for a half hour and pat dry before the next step). Smear with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and roast at 450 for 15 minutes or until cooked through and soft, turning once with tongs.
Garbanzos (chick peas) in tahini: Rinse and drain a 28 oz can of chick peas. Add a tablespoon chopped red onion. Add two or three tablespoons of tahini dressing (below) and serve.
3 Tbs tahini (mixed ‘till relatively smooth)
¼ Cup fresh lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, minced fine
Pinch or two of salt
Cold water to thin
1 tsp chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Mix all ingredients except water and salt in a bowl (deeper is better to avoid splashing) or mixing cup. Salt to taste and thin with water to desired consistency. Add chopped parsley if desired. Thin for use as salad dressing. Leave it thick to use as dip for vegetables. Leave it medium dense and creamy as a sauce sauce for falafel.
Couscous with (prepared) pesto: prepare one half cup couscous (Israeli or fine) according to package directions. Add two tablespoons prepared basil pesto (or your favorite) and serve warm.
Additional stuff: chunks of feta, black olives, halved or quartered cherry or grape tomatoes, cucumber slices, avocado and mixed greens, as desired. Try hard-boiled eggs. A drained and flaked can of tuna would be great too, with a bit of chopped onion if you are not into the vegetarian thing.