What a beautiful green this is! Don't you think? Yancey calls this a statement question--"This is beautiful...isn't it?!" He has to endure many of these statement questions.
This is something else for the party tonight--economical, spring-like and NOT hummus. I like good hummus as much as the next person, but the color is so blah. Even if I pretty it up with olive oil and paprika, the first person to dip their cracker messes it up. Also, there's a lot of bad hummus out there, and I didn't want to risk that anyone would mistake mine for that stuff.
I found this recipe on Epicurious, and it was a no-brainer not to use the fava beans they call for. I've made fava bean crostini before, and there are a few problems with it--1) Peeling the favas is too much work for the result 2) Fava beans are hard to find outside the farmers market 3) Fava beans are expensive. So here's a way to get the color (and even better flavor, I think) from bags of frozen shelled soybeans (edamame) that ran me $1.47 a bag at Uwajimaya.
I brought some to book club last night where we talked about Malcolm Gladwell's Blink. He writes about analytic versus intuitive decision-making, and ends up elevating the intuitive decision-making that's often maligned in Western culture. He says practicing something a lot is actually what makes spontaneity possible--you have to know the rules before you can improvise. A snap judgement about something you're experienced in is likely to be a good call.
So of course I thought about being in the kitchen. Improvisation in the kitchen is overwhelming for some of you because you haven't had a lot of practice or exposure in the first place. When someone says, "Oh, I just threw this together!" you can't relate at all, and in fact, their enthusiasm kind of makes you want to puke. I am a notorious recipe-changer or sometimes eschew them altogether, but the only reason I can do this is because I followed them (and followed my mom around) for a long time. I'm not sure there's a way around that. I always joke that I want to know things, but don't necessarily want to learn them. Learning involves lots of mistakes, and I don't like making mistakes. So I've put this little phrase on my mirror: Enjoy the workout of the learning curve. It reminds me that learning is a workout--it's supposed to be hard, and it's good for me. If I stop feeling sorry for my sweaty, tired-out self, I might actually enjoy being in a place of uncertainty and risk.
I am so lucky to have a community that teaches me new things all the time and is patient while I learn. A big part of that is my book club. I had to miss for 3 months while Yancey was gone, and it was good to be back last night. Jordan took this photo of me laughing. As my photographer father-in-law says (very bluntly), "Sarah, I can't get a good picture of you to save my life." It's true--the camera does not like me. But I like this photo because it's the posture I'm in all the time at book club--laughing. In fact, if you're ever doing a public speaking gig and you want to plant someone in your audience who will think you're funny, I'm your gal.
So here's to learning and improvisation and maybe not thinking about any of that while you enjoy the sunshine this weekend.
Edamame Arugula Spread
adapted from Epicurious
1 pound (one bag, generally) shelled frozen edamame
1 garlic clove
1/4 c. olive oil plus extra for the top
1/4 c. finely grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
1/2 ts. finely grated lemon zest
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 c. baby arugula
Cook edamame in boiling water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain.
Pulse edamame in food processor until coarsely chopped, then transfer half the mixture to a large bowl. To the other half still in the food processor, add olive oil, garlic, pecorino, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt to taste. Purée until smooth. Add to bowl. Coarsely chop arugula and gently fold into fava bean mixture. Drizzle with more olive oil before serving and top with a little more pecorino if you want.
You can make this a day ahead and just leave the arugula out until right before you serve it. Serve with crackers or crostini.