Sometimes a spark of culinary inspiration lights up my every day life and I feel inspired to share it with the world, but then I think about the effort involved in writing a blog post (taking nice pictures, agonizing for hours over perfect wording, etc) and let it go with a sigh. Enter the Quickie — a post that take no more than an hour to photograph and write up. It’s a challenge, and it will mean relaxing some rules I’ve been adhering to, including taking all my own photos, but I hope it will help me capture some of those useful bits and pieces that otherwise slip away.
Today’s quickie has to do with (un)disciplined shopping, not following your own advice, forced creativity and a happy ending of the harmonious union of hummus and pesto.
I went out to grab some groceries for lunch and dinner just before lunch today, with the mission NOT to over-shop because we are moving on Wednesday and there is already too much food in the pantry to transport. [Side note: can’t wait to be back in my own kitchen at the end of this week!] I was already pretty hungry: additional motivation to get in and out quickly, but also heightened danger of over-buying because everything looks delicious.
So I walk in and see a large bunch of asparagus for sale, and think “Yes! That’s dinner basically solved.” But then it’s from Spain and sitting primly right beside it is its local Bernese cousin, at more than three times the price. What to do? After hesitating way too long I cave in and grab the cheap bunch. It’s a hot, sunny day today and I’m thinking light and lemony, so I grab some organic lemon, the zest of which I will use for a second round of rhubarb olive oil cake — a hit at this weekend’s birthday picnic (recipe coming up on the blog soon!). I move on and get a few random local veggies for my lunch salad (a small fennel, fresh radishes, spring onion, sprouts) and decide I need to mix in some proteins so I head over to the canned goods isle, feeling bad that I haven’t taken my own advice and cooked up the big bag of dried chickpeas sitting in the pantry over the weekend. I notice a can of green peas right beside the chickpeas and get curious about the protein content of green peas versus chickpeas. I waste a bit more time checking the nutritional info and it looks pretty similar so I spontaneously grab the green peas instead, to shake things up a bit. I also impulsively buy ice cream because I am hungry and it’s hot and that’s as far as I can think at the moment.
As I’m walking home, I have the brilliant idea to make lemony cauliflower risotto with asparagus for dinner. It would be perfect! Lighter and fresher than risotto, and there was some Swiss cauliflower available… but I didn’t buy it, nor do we have rice, so it would mean going shopping AGAIN and buying even more STUFF. I am feeling annoyed and hungry when I get home and start hurriedly putting the salad together. I open the can of peas and they are soft and greyish, nothing like the green, vibrant, crunchy picture I had in my head. I know this, of course, that canned shit just doesn’t cut it most of the time, but somehow I am still disappointed. I mull all this over as I munch my salad, and a spark of inspiration comes: I will use the boring, soft peas in place of chickpeas to make a hummus, but I will brighten it up with the fuck-ton of fresh parsley and dill that I just over-shopped, add a nice big clove of garlic, lemon juice from that lemon and a generous swig or three of olive oil. It will be like hummus and pesto fell in love and had a perfect, creamy, bright, little baby.
I take advantage of the inspiration and while I’m still motivated, I throw it together right after lunch. It’s so yummy that I lick clean all utensils that come in contact with it (I still put them in the dishwasher though, no worries). And that will be dinner — the creamy, bright, lemony green “hmesto” with some pasta and roasted asparagus. Rejoice! The sad peas have been saved, no need to go shopping again, and not much cooking left to do for dinner.
It’s perhaps not obvious that creativity can spawn out of the tangle of (self-) imposed restrictions we have to deal with, but it often unexpectedly shines through… so don’t be afraid to work with what you have and set some limits. Hour’s up, that’s a wrap!
PS – I will take an extra 5 minutes to write up the ingredients for you. Not a proper recipe, I’m afraid, as I eyeballed the amounts, but I am confident you can make something delicious out of it as well: well-cooked green peas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and zest, fresh parsley and dill, garlic, nutritional yeast, a drizzle of Birnel (pear juice concentrate), salt, black pepper.