Let me pose a question: what would you do if you had potatoes, asparagus, green beans, and garlic, all on the verge of going bad, a bunch of leftover kidney beans that you couldn't finish so you froze instead, and of course the usual assortment of beans and spices? Would the end product look something like this?
If so, would you write a self-congratulatory post about it?
Here's what I made, and how:
Bought from the store across the street. They have a special bag they give out for baguettes, nice and long. It's made out of paper with a plastic window and is meant to be disposable, but I have been reusing the same one for about 3 months now. Usually I just buy the baguette, tell them I don't need a bag, and carry it home barehanded. This time, I took the bag with me and stuffed the baguette into it in the store; the middle-aged co-owner looked at the high-school aged cashier beside her and said "Hey, learn from this guy." We had a small discussion about reducing trash and she called me awesome.
Hummus (enough for 4 big eaters):
2 cups (dry) chickpeas
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tsp tahini
olive oil, salt, pepper.
1) Fry cumin seeds for a minute or two, add the onions, then garlic once the onions are almost soft.
2) Put everything in the blender, along with a little water (I use the water the chickpeas were boiled in). Blend it up.
Too simple to make a separate ingredients list.
1) Mince garlic and fry until lightly browned.
2) Add water, salt, and frozen beans.
3) When the water begins to boil, turn off the flame and drop in the right amount of couscous. Enough that you can't see any standing water, but not so much that the grains don't stick to each other if you shake the pan a bit.
4) Cover and leave for five minutes or so.
5) Uncover, turn on the heat, and cook again for 5 minutes or so to dry it out and make it less mushy. Done!
And, the star of the show:
Roast Potato, Asparagus, and Green Beans
I learned this one watching my Italian host mother, Donatella, when I lived in Padova. She only used potatoes, but this works too.
6 baby potatoes, quartered.
2 handfuls of green beans**
5 spears of asparagus**
Rosemary, salt, pepper, other Italian spices.
1) Preheat oven to about 180C (350F).
2) In a mixing bowl, drizzle potatoes in oil and toss with spices.
3) Bake potatoes for 25-30 minutes.
4) In the meantime, cut the asparagus into 1.5 inch rods and mix in the same bowl and spices.
5) Turn the potatoes and add in the asparagus. Cook for 10 minutes.
6) In the meantime, cut the beans into 1.5 inch rods and mix in the same bowl and spices.
7) Bake for another 15-20 minutes.
Result: the best asparagus and green beans I've ever tasted! The rosemary, when baked, gives everything a fantastic aroma and sweetens the dish. The potatoes come out nice and crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, while the beans and asparagus shrivel a bit, so that the skin is slightly tough and the inside highly succulent. Much more moist than when simply sauteed.
*There are an infinite number of ways to deal with raw chickpeas; I seem to wind up doing it differently each time. Today, on my lunch break, I boiled them for 20 minutes, then turned off the stove and let them soak for several hours while I was at work. Then I came home, changed the water, and boiled them for 30 minutes more.
**This is arbitrary, it's just the way these things are packaged and sold here.