Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Serendipity

It seems that this is a very productive time of year for local farms. Now I haven't stepped foot on a farm since Glastonbury, but my CSA box has been particularly abundant of late, so I can only assume that we have come to the peak harvest period.

While on one hand there is something exquisite about having a full refrigerator, on the other hand I feel a vague but constant pressure to actually use the bounty that has been bestowed upon me. And when I have five eggplants, 8 tomatoes and several pounds of greens (among other things...like cardoons which to this day I cannot figure out a use for), using them up is no easy feat.

So, as my imagination wanes in times like these, I inevitably turn to my cookbook collection for some inspiration. And where better to turn than Madhur Jaffery's World Vegetarian when the raw materials in question are vegetables?

In a recent effort to rid myself of a few Japanese eggplants through one of her recipes, I came across the best peanut sauce I have ever encountered. EVER. I am using it all over the place now.

A tangy/hot/sweet mixture of natural peanut butter (buy it in bulk from a health food store or Whole Foods...delicious and the cheapest way to obtain it!)...

stirred together to make a creamy emulsion to anoint steamed eggplant (Madhur's suggestion and it is a good one)

or just about anything else you can think of. Last night I personally was on a quest to clean out my drawers and cupboards, so threw some glass noodles and various veggies in a bowl and tossed it with the magic peanut sauce. Heaven.

As were the steamed eggplants with sauce a few days ago, and the cucumbers dipped in it a day or two ago, and the boiled potatoes tossed with it the day before. Endless possibilities.

Spicy Chinese Peanut Dressing
From Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian

Yields approximately 1/2 cup

4 teaspoons freshly made peanut butter from a health food shop or 4 tablespoons roasted peanuts ground to a paste in a clean coffee grinder
4 teaspoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon oriental sesame oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili paste with soybean or chili paste with garlic, optional (I use sriracha)
1/2 teaspoon very finely chopped ginger (I grate it on a Microplane)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Drizzle over base of choice.

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