Friday, October 03, 2008

Vegan MoFo: Peppers, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Use The Food Processor

Look at these gorgeous peppers! They are all from Garden Of Eve Farm, the farm where our CSA produce is grown. The paler green one and the red one came in the share, and the poblano (dark green unsliced one) I bought at the stand. I cannot begin to describe the difference between farm-fresh peppers and the other kind, but it is the same gulf that separates fresh tomatoes from stringy flavorless store tomatoes. And the smell!

You can see the bite I took out of the poblano before cutting it. I am not sure why I did that, especially given that the last time I used poblano peppers from this farm I cut them without wearing gloves and not only were they so hot that I started coughing as I de-seeded them, but my hands began to burn for ELEVEN HOURS. ELEVEN HOURS, people! I now wear surgical gloves when I deal with peppers, I bought a giant box of them. Because the only thing worse than having your hands burn all day is taking out your contact lenses after you are SO SURE you washed all the pepper juice away. (And the only thing worse than that is when you change your tampon. Your OB tampon. Gloves. Are. Your. Friends. )

In the periphery of this photo you can see my two favorite kitchen items: the handle of our happy orange Le Creuset saute pan, and the food processor. When I first moved in with Trey, I had a phobia of the food processor. It seemed so complicated and I had been warned about how sharp the blade was, and I think I had a vague idea that you had to press something down into it, like a juicer. When I first started cooking a lot, I made many things out of Vegan With a Vengeance and I remember making the marinade for the (excellent!!) Jerk Seitan in the blender. I can't remember the first time I summoned the courage to use the processor, but once I did I was hooked. I am thinking it is likely that I made pesto. For a while the running joke was that I dirtied the food processor every night for Trey to clean up. But it is addictive! So many worlds open to you! Creamy soups! Chimichurri! Tapenade! Hummus! PESTO!

Mmmm, vegan pesto! This is another example of a flavor trick I learned: The salty funky note dairy cheese provides in sauces, such as the parmesan in dairy-full pesto (How about dairylict! Neologism Alert!!) or in a traditional Alfredo can easily be provided by onion powder and nutmeg. I kid you not. I first learned of this trying Lachesis' vegan Alfredo recipe from the PPK fora, and started applying it when I made pestos. Now the idea of cheese in pesto seems insane to me. Nutritional yeast and a bit of onion powder provide all the umami you need.

And this leads me to what is to many non-vegans the Unbelieveable Truth: I don't miss cheese. I don't miss cheese at all. Even though I used to go to Murray's and bring home tubs of gorgonzola cremificato and butterscotchy gouda, my palate has really changed to the point where when I open the office refridgerator and the milk has gone off it smells like cheese to me. I don't even like Teese! I'd rather have vegan sour cream on my nachos or a cashew-tofu ricotta for that fatty creamy goodness. Or avocado. On a toasted everything bagel. Right now.

Arugula Pesto

1 bunch arugula, washed and patted dry
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup walnuts or more to taste
1/2 cup best olive oil you have in the house
1 big handful of fresh basil leaves
1 tsp onion powder
Dash nutmeg
1/3 cup nutritional yeast (or more to taste)

Put all the ingredients in the food processor. Press the magic button. Scrape down the sides with a spatula and press again. Taste. Adjust anything accordingly.


Blogger Bex said...

I know what you mean about the food processor. I finally got one for the first time ever in my life for my birthday last year. Of course now it's the coolest thing but I was a little afraid of it at first.
And the peppers. I once was cutting open a lot of jalapenos for poppers, probably 20 of them, and I did not wear gloves. My hands burned for 2 days. Now I keep food service gloves in the kitchen for any more than one hot pepper (unless it's a doosy like habanero or scotch bonnet).

12:57 AM  
Blogger Veg-a-Nut said...

Yes, pepper juice and contacts don't mix. Been there done that. I love my food processor. What a time saver.

1:35 AM  

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