Monday, December 27, 2010

not first date food

I have the most delicious garlic breath right now.  Does anyone else enjoy the aftertaste in your mouth when you know you're breathing fire on anyone brave enough to stand near you?  I love the way garlic, especially raw garlic, lingers.  Fortunately, so does my husband.

Tonight's dinner consisted of two raw-garlic-heavy recipes I wanted to test for the upcoming sequel to The Urban Vegan.  I am so fortunate to have these sneak previews and feel forever indebted to Dynise for selecting me as one of her testers.  So far, I've tested five of her recipes and from what I can tell, there ought to be a waiting list when this puppy gets published!  The ones I chose to make tonight, though, take the vegan cake.

There is a complete shot of dinner.  Because the two recipes I tested tonight could both be appetizers, preludes to a main course, I decided to combine them and add a bowl of mixed Greek olives and hope Mister was in the mood for mezze.  The two delightful (and charmingly complementary) recipes I made were Gussied-Up Tabbouleh and Smoky Zucchini Bean Dip.

Due to the generally prohibitively expensive nature of fresh herbs, I don't use them very frequently.  One of my hopes/goals for my next home (or the one after that) is to have some space where I can plant at least an herb garden.  I would love to use fresh herbs more, but $2.50 for a cupful of mint is not my cup of tea.  Additionally, I'll admit, chopping approximately 2 cups worth of fresh herbs is not something I'm in the habit of doing, but it was much easier and more enjoyable than it's been in the past, thanks to my brand new Calphalon knife (thanks, Mom!).

Yes, I even took the care to garnish my tabbouleh with a pita wedge.  Can I tell you something?  This is the best tabbouleh I have ever eaten.  My husband hails from a first-generation Greek family.  I have raved about the tabbouleh from Cedars.  I don't like scallions, raw tomatoes, or mint in savory things.  This is a great example of that saying "the sum is greater than the parts," because I could not comprehend how amazing this tabbouleh is.  In her introduction to this recipe, Dynise writes that she made this frequently as a "young" vegetarian.  I can see why - I could see myself making a double portion of this on at least a bi-weekly basis throughout the warmer months and just scooping some out as desired.  

Don't let the sheer fabulousness of the tabbouleh distract you from the wonder that was our zucchini bean dip, though.  I can't tell you what all was in it (although I think some things should be obvious...), but I want to say that one of the ingredients and I have had our differences in the past, so I was a little nervous about its inclusion in this recipe.  I was faithful to the recipe, though, and just scrunched my eyes shut, wiggled my nose, and hoped that the other ingredients would make up for it.

They did.  I tasted the dip before putting it down in front of Mister and my eyes almost popped out of my head.  This dip is just bursting with flavor from various profiles - slightly nutty to the exciting bite of raw garlic (which is still dancing on my happy tongue).  I served it with pita, which doubled as scoops for the fork-disinclined Mister.  He happily dunked the wide end of the pita wedges into the dip, then used his offending fork to shovel some tabbouleh onto the pita and shoved the whole thing into his mouth.  He hasn't been eating much since he got sick, but he did a great job finishing off almost his whole bowl of tabbouleh and a decent bit of dip.  The recipe makes a ton - two generous cups - and if you were to buy the new book, make this, and take it to a party... people would be talking about you for days (in a good way)!  Because of the delicious snap of raw garlic, I think this dip would be most amazing when accompanied by sweet crudites, specifically, sliced red bell peppers and carrot sticks.

We'll try that tomorrow.  We're well past our first date.

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