July 07, 2009

Trying Out Mark Bittman's Pea Dip

More than Bobby Flay, I love Mark Bittman, The Minimalist food god of the NY Times and author of some lovely cookbooks I received for my birthday (How to Cook Everything and The Best Recipes in the World).

I started watching Bittman's Minimalist cooking videos this fall (specifically, a video about Kasha Varnishkes), and have become utterly addicted. Bittman has an Anthony Bourdain air about him (sans the renaissance man thing), and he's hilarious. The best thing about his videos is that he keeps everything simple, and I've tried a bunch of his ideas this year with great success. At this point, it's safe to say that I would chop off my ears and cook them if Bittman told me to.

One of my main tasks over the next two and a half weeks will be to try to use up as much food as possible in my pantry, as I'm first going on a three-week vacation (woohoo teaching) and then moving into my new apartment. This means storing my stuff until I get back, and I really, really, really don't want to store any food next to my mattress.

So when Bittman featured Pea Dip (a pureed alternative to the more traditional sour cream-heavy dips) on The Minimalist a few days ago, I was stoked to have a chance to use up the rest of a bag of frozen peas that's been in my freezer since November. Here's how mine ended up:

I changed a few things in Bittman's recipe (based on what I had around the house), but the basic idea was great: use a thick substance like peas or soybeans as the base of a healthier dip, as opposed to sour cream and mayonnaise. Depending on how health-nutty you're feeling, you can really get away with simply puréeing peas, olive oil, and mint. If you're feeling more decadent, though, adding parmesan and/or a dollop of sour cream to the mixture is a good option, too.

The dip I ended up with was perfect with pretzels, but it'd also be great as a spread on toast in the morning or in place of mayo in a veggie sandwich. I plan to use it on as many items as possible, as I try both to empty my cupboards and to enjoy cooking and eating.

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