Recipe This holiday season cut back on calories with this vegan spread
View the holiday party season as an opportunity to eat more vegetables and legumes. I spent a week making Mediterranean vegetable and bean purees that we spread on toasted bread and devoured for lunch and dinner every day. My son and I managed to consume nearly a pound each of fresh spinach, carrots, and winter squash. This week the focus is on the savoury. As always, the cuisines of the Mediterranean offer everything I am looking for — vibrant, nutrient-dense seasonal vegetables and legumes flavoured with herbs, spices and aromatics. I transformed some of my favourite vegetable and legume dishes into spreads by blending them in a food processor. Serve these on toasted croutons or crackers, or if you need a lower-carb delivery system, spoon or pipe onto squares of red pepper, endive leaves, or cucumber rounds.
Spinach and yogurt dip
In the traditional dish the spinach is topped with the garlicky yogurt. Here everything is blended together.
Spinach, stemmed and washed thoroughly in two changes of water: 680 gm
1 to 2 Garlic cloves, large: 1-2
Salt: to taste
Thick plain yogurt: 1 cup
Extra virgin olive oil: 2 tbsp
Ground allspice: 1/8 tsp
Clove, ground: 1
Nutmeg, freshly grated: 1/8 tsp
Cinnamon, ground: 1/8 tsp
Coriander seeds: 1 tsp
Chopped walnuts for garnish (optional)
Blanch the spinach for 20 to 30 seconds or steam for two to three minutes. Rinse and squeeze out excess water and chop coarsely. Pound the garlic to a paste with salt in a mortar and pestle. Stir into the yogurt and set aside. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a wide, heavy skillet and add the spices. Cook, stirring, until they begin to sizzle, and add the spinach. Cook, stirring, until heated through and coated with the oil and spices, two to three minutes. Transfer to a food processor and pulse to a puree. Add the yogurt and blend together. Transfer to a bowl or platter. Serve on croutons or with crudites such as red pepper squares, or with pita triangles. Garnish with chopped walnuts if desired. Serve with pita bread.
MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN
NYT NEWS SERVICE