BY ANY RELATIVE COMPARISON, IT WASN’T REALLY A BAD DAY IN MY PROGRESS TO MATURITY.
OK, last night, was a rough night.
It was at the inconvenient juncture of 3 am, when this garlic-tolerant vampire usually pop herself a good reliable melatonin-jelly bean and wait for it to propel into a semi-decent night of sleep, that she found, Marnie. Of course, to Marnie’s fluffy highness, it was no big deal with her mighty presence of 1.4 M followers (M, guys, not K anymore. K apparently is for losers), but for me, for me it was devastating to say the least. A living hybrid of Forest Gump and Ewok, two most endearing mystical creatures in the world. Not only she sent me into an unstoppable scrolling with the constant mindless chuckles, but she had led me into the internet-dominating world of sausage-tongue dogs with no returns. Boom, here was another. Boom, omg that one’s adorable, too. Then one after the other, like an avalanche of deadly cuteness, burying me under a blanket of midnight-delights that, despite my best effort, I barely crawled out of in one piece at the wee-morning of 5 am.
Today, I woke up looking just as well as one of them.
But, professionally speaking, I still have to get my shit together to talk my other discovery last night, which happened to be one of those nights when I found myself scraping the bottom of my keyboard looking for potato chips-crumbs to sustain this bunker-style life. To my surprise as well, foraging through my dark forest laden with seductive canned meat trying to lure me into the dark side, it was also the night where I found my long-lost, inner vegetarian-self. Did you know, that if you puree a couple cans of buttery white beans with thick Greek yogurt, a dab of tahini and whatnots, then cover it with a company of bits-y browned vegetables in a spicy and garlicky oil, an highlights of fresh herbs and squirts of some good olive oil, then you would have a meal so satisfying that it would almost make you forget that something is missing from this diet? Tangy, creamy, oily and savoury with just the right amount of pain to keep you going back for more, and needless to say, a completely legitimate weeknight emergency-dinner. I mean, it wouldn’t be the worst thing, nor even difficult, to do this once in a week is what I’m saying. Wait, you mean, everybody knows that? OK, great, I guess just like Marnie, I’m also just late to this game after the few million others…
But at least, I was comforted by the fact that while one side of my sense of responsibility faltered, and the other side had prevailed. By any relative comparison, really wasn’t a bad day in my progress to maturity. Speaking of which, it’s approaching 2 pm as we speak. And I think, somewhere civilized, what they call… a siesta is it?, is considered a very responsible, if not a must practice of fine living.
The Greek yogurt you use needs to be very very thick, like the thickest kind you can find. If you find your yogurt on the runny side, put it in cheese-cloth over a strainer with something heavy on top, and let drain for a few hours in the fridge. You can substitute eggplants and mushrooms with other vegetables you have on hands, like zucchini… cauliflower… peas and etc. The cooking time may vary a bit, but the principle is to chop them really finely to a super coarse pesto-consistency. You can use the leftovers as a sauce for pasta, too.
- 2 cans (400 grams each) white bean, such as cannellini or butter beans
- 1/2 cup (115 grams) Greek yogurt, the thicker the better
- 3 clove garlic
- 1 tbsp tahini paste
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/3 tsp sugar
- Salt to season
- 1 heaping cup (90 grams) peeled and finely diced eggplant
- 1 cup (68 grams) finely diced shitake mushrooms
- 1/4 cup olive oil + 2 tbsp
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Salt to taste
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
- Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
- Crusty bread and wedges of lemon to serve
- TO MAKE THE TANGY BEAMMUS: Drain the canned beans really really well, then transfer to a food-processor along with Greek yogurt (the THICKEST kind you can find), garlics, tahini paste, lemon juice and sugar. Run for 2 min until smoothly pureed, then season with salt accordingly. Set aside.
- TO MAKE THE SPICY EGGPLANT AND MUSHROOM: Peel the eggplant and finely dice into tiny cubes. Same as the mushrooms. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat, cook the eggplant and mushrooms for approx 4 min, stirring just a few times (won't brown properly if you stir too much), until evenly browned. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook for a few more seconds. They should have lost at least 1/2 the volume. Remove from the skillet and set aside. Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat, then add minced garlic, chili flakes, ground cumin, ground coriander and ground black pepper. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the browned eggplants and mushrooms, and cook for another 30 seconds. Turn off the heat then add 1 tbsp of chopped mint, and re-season with a bit more salt.
- Spoon the spicy egglants and mushrooms over the tangy beammus. Sprinkle the remaining chopped mint over the top and drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil. Serve with crusty bread and a squeeze of lemon juice.