Saturday, February 5, 2011

comfort food a la Isa

What comes to mind when you think of "comfort food?"  Ask an omnivore and they may say, "Mom's meatloaf," or "this crazy cheddar-chicken-macaroni casserole."  Ask a vegetarian, you'll probably hear about mac 'n' cheese or pizza, possibly even ice cream.  Ask a vegan?  Well, that gets a little more complicated, doesn't it?  After all, cheese actually has a natural chemical in it that produces feelings of pleasure and calm - the purpose of dairy (be it cow, goat, or human) is to nurture and nourish the little baby.

When I think of comfort foods, they are almost always warm and the product of slow cooking of some sort.  I may indulge in non-dairy "ice cream" as an occasional treat, but I don't drown myself in it like your classic Lifetime drama might show.  When I need a "taste of home," something to sooth me and keep me in this moment and content, it usually involves dinner.  I'll admit, I find a steamy bowl of oatmeal an immensely satisfying way to start the day - all the more since I've started reserving it for weekend breakfasts since it is a slow-cooking breakfast and I don't always have that time in the mornings before work.  Through the packing process, I've discovered how I can crave a nice crunchy, warm piece of toast with a pool of melted Earth Balance on top of it.  I can wax poet about Chickpea Stew with Fried Polenta, but tonight I reminded Mister and myself of an extraordinarily comforting dish.

I really ought to make Chickpea Broccoli Casserole from Vegan with a Vengeance more frequently.  It is just so good.  I've made it enough times that I've attached a couple of post-it notes to the page including variations I have made or things I'd like to try, because the recipe (and its intro) invites creativity.

Although the recipe instructs a person to grate the carrots, one of the tweaks I've made is to quarter and slice the carrots - I like the added texture.  The broccoli gets perfectly squishy in a way that is only appropriate or appetizing at all because it is surrounded by creamy, soft chickpea puree spiked with bread crumbs for stability.  Another tweak I've made is the addition of garlic.  This time around, I added 5 cloves, which would have been overwhelming if a person didn't like garlic.  Fortunately, Mister and I are Garlic Monsters, so it's all good.

Seriously, if you don't have VwaV yet, you should start hinting to Someone about what a great Valentine's Day gift it would be....

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