Love Your Vegetables

I doubt there is any matter more important to human health than the food we eat.  We can eat mindfully and enliven our emotional and physical health, or we can simply eat what we catch on the fly and hope we don't feel terrible at day's end.  We can choose to feed our bodies well, or  leave it to fate.

And vegetables?   Even in these more enlightened days, many people just ignore them.  There are fewer foods more important, more enjoyable than fresh vegetables, and I think it's time we gave them their due.

But, what do you DO with them?  Oh, I do understand.  It can become one big boring chore to eat another mound of too-steamed broccoli with lemon.  Phooey. I am 'way too busy to worry about this right now.

John and I travel 150 miles each day we go to work.  This was becoming a problem as we got more tired and less organized.  Before we knew it, we were either eating out or slapping together something at home that wasn't particularly tantalizing and often too heavy to eat that late in the evening.

Vegetables to the rescue!  These are not simply something to overcook and plunk down next to the good stuff. They are the delicious salads that can be taken to work, the light evening meal, the wonderful pot luck dishes we can feel good about.  They are easy and they love us.  I'm out to invite people to enjoy these denigrated citizens of the food world.

This week:  What do I put ON Vegetables???

One of my favorite ways to eat veggies is to steam them up, or roast them when I have time, and drizzle a wonderful sauce or dressing on them.  Let's start with two:

Sunflower Pesto ~

1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds

1 or 2 garlic cloves, chopped 

1/3 cup good extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

pinch of freshly ground pepper

2 pack cups of fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In your food processor, pulse the sunflower seeds and garlic until they are nice and crumbly.  Add the olive oil, salt, pepper, basil and Parmesan, if you are using it (it is quite delicious without the cheese as well).  Whirl until smooth.  You  can  cover and refrigerate or even freeze the leftover pesto.

Yield:  About 1 cup

Don't just save this one for pasta.  It is absolutely delicious on hot vegetable soup, dolloped on a roasted sweet potato or a pile of string beans or most any other green vegetable.  

Lemon Tahini Dressing ~

1/2 cup tahini

1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar or rice vinegar (red wine is very mellow in flavor)

1 or 2 minced garlic cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

ground black pepper 

1 teaspoon ground cumin, if you like cumin

In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients until smooth.  Let the dressing sit at least fifteen or twenty minutes to marry the flavors.  Refrigerate, tightly covered.

Yield:  1 1/4 cups

Oh, this is good.  It can be used as a salad dressing, of course, but also shines drizzled over any green vegetables.

These recipes come from my collection of Moosewood cookbooks.  Look online for more, especially the vegetariantimes.com site.

I hope you will try these, and many other vegetable sauces on.  It's spring, and the farmers markets are stacked high with produce begging to be relished!  Enjoy!