Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Vegan MoFo: Pesto & Peas (S is for Sorrel)

It's sort of embarrassing to talk about now, but I wasn't really into vegetables before I moved to California. What makes it particularly embarrassing is that, well, I was a vegetarian before I moved here. For a long time. For, um, 13 years. And I really almost never bought or ate vegetables at home. I was what I like to think of as a potato chip vegetarian, a vegetarian who subsists on things like, well, potato chips. And frozen fake meats and ranch dressing. And bread.

Moving to California kind of blew me away because something about the combination of living close to where every kind of produce grows & living in a more affluent area means that even crappy grocery stores are full of this amazingly beautiful produce. I used to go into Safeway and just stand there and gawk. And then I discovered local Santa Cruz grocery stores. And THEN I discovered the farmer's markets and joined a CSA. And I simultaneously and magically became a vegan!

Farmers market 10/19/11 pt 1Farmers market 10/19/11 pt 2

Here's what I got at the market today. This is pretty typical though I actually bought kinda lightly today because I don't need that many things for the rest of my MoFo week. You can see how if one was not a vegetable person (OR a fruit person; I almost never bought and ate fruit!) how seeing this sorta stuff all around you could be totally amazing, right?

For the first couple of years I lived here, I had a game I played where every time I went to the market. I would try to find, buy, and consume one thing I'd never had before. This drove me to try all sorts of things I adore now... persimmons, pomelos, sunchokes, parsnips, collards, pluots (PLUOTS!), guava, cherimoya, feijoas, mustard greens, shiitake mushrooms, shallots, broccolini, bok choy, and on and on and on. It's getting harder now that I've lived here so long and have eaten so many things, and I don't actively push to do it every week anymore.

So you can imagine how excited I am when I realize there's something I haven't had, and what a nice treat it is to try something new! Which is exactly what I did today for the letter S. I tried sorrel!


I tried a little bit of it raw. It's... hm. Kind of lemony? But also astringent and kind of bitter. Like a lemon with all the happiness sucked out. Um, I didn't dislike it. But it's a little intense on its own.

I perused a couple of sites of sorrel recipes on the internet, discarded a bunch for soup (it's hot out again), found a very not vegan friendly pesto recipe and decided to modify that. And then I saw snap peas, which ALSO start with S and which are a known love, so I decided to include those too.

Pesto & peas (sorrel & snaps)

Pesto & Peas & Pasta (Sorrel & Snaps & Spirals)
Serves 4

2c coarsely chopped sorrel (1 smallish bunch)
1/4c coarsely chopped parsley
1/4c walnuts
1/4c cashews
1/4c olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsps nooch
1 tsp salt
couple of grinds of pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2lb brown rice spirals, or other pasta of your liking

olive oil spray
1/2lb snap peas, chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon

Optional mix in: nice heirloom tomato, chopped

1. Make the pesto: put all of the pesto ingredients in a food processor and puree til fairly smooth. Taste for salt and pepper and maybe more lemon juice. Put pesto in the fridge til you're ready to eat.
2. Make the pasta according to package directions, then drain and set aside.
3. Make the peas: spray large saute pan with a light coat of olive oil spray and heat over medium.
4. Add snap peas & saute for about 5 minutes, til bright green but not limp.
5. Sprinkle lemon juice and a bit of salt (to taste) on the snap peas.
6. Mix pesto into pasta, then mix snap peas into that.
7. If using tomato (I had it with, Josh had it without), mix that in too.

Pesto process

Here it is in the food processor.

I really liked this but suspected I'd be the only person in the house who'd be interested in it. And indeed, the Emperor wouldn't try it. (I had set some plain noodles aside for him in anticipation, and he ate every last one of those. He is a fiend for brown rice spirals.) But Josh liked it quite a bit, which is a surprise because he's not a big pesto guy. It was really nicely creamy and well balanced without being overwhelmingly anything.

The Emperor started out dinner by telling me with extreme certainty, "I don't want snap peas. I don't LIKE snap peas. I DON'T LIKE SNAP PEAS." I was, at the time, holding one out to him. I went to put it back on my plate and his hand flashed out and snatched the pea away from me. I guess his brain was saying something other than his mouth, because he jammed the snap pea in and started chewing with a thoughtful look on his face. He then proceeded to demand and eat every last snap pea out of my dish. "Mommy, I'm eating snap peas! I REALLY LIKE SNAP PEAS. I like them! I'm eating them!" Ha ha ha. You little nut.

We had dessert tonight, because strawberries also start with S and I was (p)syched to see them at the market still. At the end of OCTOBER! You don't need a recipe for this, it's really just a layer of chocolate, a layer of dandies, and a layer of strawberries. But it was also phenomenal. Pictures:

Strawberry dessert monstrosity

Strawberry chocolate marshmallow treat

Unfortunately, it was really dark out by the time we cut into this so the slice picture really doesn't do it justice. It's very pretty as well as tasty. And so simple and easy to make.

Whew. This may be my longest MoFo post yet. I'll end it here with a picture of the Emperor toting around a kabocha squash. J always calls him pumpkin, so I like to think of this picture as Pumpkin with pumpkin:

Pumpkin with a pumpkin


Anonymous said...

Are you actually coming up with all of these recipes from your own brain??? How in the world do you do it? I'm just so impressed by you! (And I must give the Emperor my daily through-the-screen cheek pinch....there, I feel better). xox

coldandsleepy said...

Usually if I don't know what something is, I google it to see what other people have cooked with it, then come up with some idea from there. I am incredibly lazy and it usually seems like less work to throw something together based on an idea than get out a cookbook and look up a particular recipe or uh follow steps or have all the ingredients someone else listed on hand!

Everything you make looks like you actually thought about it ahead of time (something I almost never do!) and that is very impressive to me!

Anonymous said...

WOW the strawberry dessert looks awesome! I'm thinking a cup of tea and a slice of that would be such a treat!

Mel said...

I've heard of sorrel before but don't recall seeing it anywhere and have never eaten it. It sounds interesting, I love trying out new ingredients too. Your pasta looks fantastic, it's my type of meal but my boys only like pasta that is smothered in a sauce.

Jeni Treehugger said...

Do you know, I've never had sorrel. I reckon I'd love it though 'cos green leafy vegetables are my favourite.That pasta looks scrumptious.

Dawn said...

I've never even heard of sorrel. So I have learned something new today, thanks to you :)

And the Emperor is adorable!!

jess said...

i love all sorts of pestos and this sorrel one looks great! mmm, i seem to be in a pasta mood all the time lately - it's just so cozy!

ps: i gave you some blog love in my post today. xo

Richa said...

did i tell u how much i love your theme and the creativity!!. i have never heard of sorrel.. so learning abcs with u all over again:):)
the strawberry pie thing looks yummazing! keep on creating!
Richa @ Hobby And More Food Blog

Amey said...

Oh my gosh, what a wonderful post! I also love finding new goodies at the farmers market to eat and enjoy. I have a really wonderful potato sorrel soup recipe, let me know if you want the recipe! Also, I love your p,p,&p / s,s,& s ! How cute are you!? Love the little guy pretending he doesn't like peas, what a goofball.

Erin said...

Your recipe sounds delicious! I don't know that I've ever had sorrel, but from your description it sounds like a great addition to pesto.

Anonymous said...

My CSA share had sorrel this week and I had never had it before. I found this recipe and love this pesto!! Thanks!