Hey! I can make that!

I was at Trader Joe’s the other day and saw a container of edamame humus for sale.  I looked at it, and looked at the ingredients: soy beans, lemon juice, oil, salt, garlic… My immediate reaction was that it looked delicious.  My second reaction was to think about how I could make it on my own.

About four years ago, I made my own hummus for the first time.  I realized how easy it was, how much cheaper it is than buying tubs of over-priced (preservative-laden) hummus from the store, and how you could customize it to exactly the flavor you wanted.  I’ve made roasted red pepper hummus, sun-dried tomato hummus, plain garlic/lemon hummus, and hummus with various curry and chile spices added.

So, I set out to make my own edamame hummus.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of shelled, defrosted edamame (I steamed it for about 5 minutes)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 or 4 Tbs. tahini
  • 5 Tbs. water
  • 3 cloves garlic (I cheat and use the pre-chopped stuff in the jar)
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Throw everything into the a food processor, blender, or Magic Bullet.  (I use the Magic Bullet, and it is completely magic and I am completely obsessed with it, as is my roommate.  It is perfect for making hummus.)  Blend until the desired consistency.  Add more water if needed to make the ingredients blend better.  Eat.  (For better taste, let sit in the refrigerator for a while, to let the flavors meld.)

While I was letting my hummus cool down in the fridge,  (I live in the desert.  I wish I could cool down in the fridge, sometimes, too,) I decided to make some falafel!  I used the recipe from Appetite for Reduction.  I had a little trouble getting the garbanzos to blend in the Magic Bullet without added liquid (this is when a real food processor would have helped), but they eventually became mooshed enough.  The recipe called for “2 tsp. hot sauce.”  I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant, (what kind of hot sauce?)  I ended up using Sriracha.  I was afraid it would be too spicy, but it wasn’t bad.  It was fairly spicy, but I love my food to be VERY spicy, so I enjoyed the extra kick.

Falafel, Edamame Hummus, and Whole Wheat Pita Bread

Falafel, Edamame Hummus, and Whole Wheat Pita Bread

After the falafel was done baking, I assembled my dinner.

Layer 1: Homemade (pocketless) whole wheat pita bread.
Layer 2: Homemade edamame hummus.
Layer 3: Homemade falafel.

So, yes.  I can, in fact, make that!

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Si, Se Puede!

I love César Chávez.  I like how he stood up for the disenfranchised.  How he fought most of his life, until his death, for fair working conditions and fair pay for migrant farm workers.  I did a huge project with my students last year involving César Chávez, and they appreciated his non-violent social justice work, as well.

So, when I saw a recipe for César Chávez dressing in Appetite for Reduction, I decided that I had to make it.  I’ve never had a particular love of caesar salad or caesar dressing.  But, with a name like César Chávez dressing, I had to try it.  As I cook more and more vegan food, I’m starting to actually learn things.  One thing I’ve learned is that cashews are often added to make things creamier.  Creamy sauces, creamy spreads, and now, creamy salad dressings all have ground up cashews.  (I also finally discovered that, while Whole Foods is usually more expensive than anywhere else, they sell cashew pieces in the bulk bins for half of what I have been spending on whole cashews in the bulk bins at my regular grocery store.  It’s worth the extra trip.)  The dressing was really easy, and includes capers to give it that special “briney” taste.  I think it tasted a lot like caesar dressing, but better, because it starred one of my favorite social-justice super-heros, César Chávez.

César Chávez Dressing (in the Magic Bullet)

César Chávez Dressing (before being blended in the Magic Bullet).

I started out just making the dressing, but then I decided I wanted to go all the way – make a whole meal.  So, following the directions for baked tofu (also in Appetite for Reduction), I pressed, marinated, and baked some tofu.  I can’t believe I have never pressed tofu before…but I haven’t.  I have cut it up and dry-fried it, but never actually wrapped it in a towel and squeezed it out underneath heavy things.  (I used a ceramic bowl of water, sitting on a cast-iron pan, sitting on a cutting board, sitting on the towel-wrapped tofu.)  It’s amazing, but, when you actually press it, the tofu absorbs the marinade!  (That should not have been a surprise for me.)

Marinating Tofu

Marinating Tofu

After blending my dressing, and pressing, marinating, and baking my tofu, I attempted what the recipe book called “eggplant bacon”.  I was supposed to cut the eggplant into thin strips, bake them, dip them in soy sauce and liquid smoke, and then bake them again.  I did this, but I don’t think I cut the eggplant thin enough, and it pretty much just turned into soggy/salty eggplant.  The eggplant bacon wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great, either.  I still have half an eggplant left, so I think I’m going to try again, making sure to cut the eggplant a bit thinner this time.  That will give me more crispy pieces, which have more of a bacony texture.

César Chávez Salad

César Chávez Salad

I tore up some lettuce, cut the tofu into squares, scattered on the eggplant bacon, and poured on the César Chávez dressing.  Putting it all together – it was pretty good!  I felt like I was eating a complete meal, instead of just random bits of food (which I have a bad habit of doing).  Overall, I was pretty impressed with the meal.

I will definitely make the tofu again.    The salad dressing tasted a lot like caesar dressing, and since I don’t particularly love caesar dressing, it won’t go into my regular cooking rotation.  Maybe on César Chávez’s birthday I’ll make the salad dressing again.