The other evening had so much awesome going on in my kitchen. I love getting in a cooking frenzy and just doing a gazillion things at the same time.
These were particularly amusing because they had very little to do with one another and made my kitchen smell kind of bizarre.
The evening began when I walked home from work and went, “Artichokes!” with a huge smile on my face.
For basically my entire life (even as a vegetable-wary child), I have adored artichokes. If I won the lottery, the most substantial change to my life would be eating them whenever I wanted. They were affordable (ish) at Trader Joe’s, and I just had to spring for it. On they went (with some lemon in the steaming water) in my steamer.
Then I realized I was low on oats. So I cooked down some banana to caramelize and the banana was SOOOOOO ripe and I’ve been experimenting with slicing the banana SUUUUUUUUUPER thin and as a result it turned into, I kid you not, banana marshmallow creme. It was magnificent.
So artichokes and banana. Pretty distinctive, aromatically.
Then I invented a totally magnificent bean dish that everyone should try.
Smoky Kidney Beans: the evolution of a recipe (ish).
So I was craving muhammara in a major way. That whole sweet-savory-smoky thing. But had no red peppers for roasting. But I had walnuts, which add that wonderful smoky meatiness to it. So I toasted some of them.
Cleared those out of the pan and set them aside, and then heated up some oil and infused it with flava with some garlic and spicy crushed red pepper flakes.
The walnuts had reminded me of a recipe I’ve had bookmarked for ages for red bean and walnut soup (doesn’t that sound great?! I really will have to make it at some point) so I decided to turn it into a bean dish. And then cause I wanted the redness of muhammara and because I love their taste and they’re an awesome kitchen shortcut, I added some fire roasted tomatoes too.
Spices were utilized (lotsa paprika, good amount of cumin, dash of cinnamon)
And, just cause I had them (and they added more color brilliance! But are otherwise entirely optional) I added some leftover roasted beets.
Once that’d cooked down and reduced for awhile, I finished it off with my favorite classy ingredient, pomegranate balsamic reduction
And the kitchen smell was a DIZZYING combination of flavors. And awesome. And oh so colorful!
The beans were SO GOOD. I finished cooking them down and stirred the walnuts back in and marveled at how something with so few, simple ingredients could taste so awesome.
You got all these awesome crunches of walnut interspersed with the smoky, tangy, sweet-hot meaty and filling beans. They were particularly great when you mushed them with the back of a spoon.
Plated them up with some couscous. I’ve been obsessed with Trader Joe’s whole wheat couscous lately. It takes 5 minutes to cook, it’s a whole grain that doesn’t taste like it, and it goes with everything.
And got out my artichoke, which I ate by yanking off the leaves and dipping them in mayo (one of the only times I ever eat mayo!)
Artichokes are also fun because eating them is just such a ritual; there’s the whole presentation of the pretty petals of the vegetable opening out, you dig in and find the meltingly tender and flavorful heart within. It’s so satisfying!
And it’s fun to have a classy appetizer for a normal weeknight dinner. Flowers, too!
Ahh, the finer things.