Sunday, November 28, 2010
Somewhere in my cold shriveled heart is a belief that a pile of bitter vegetables will make up for about a week of saturated fats, alcohol, and simple carbohydrates. It's like C and the whole cold drink on a hot day causes heart failure superstition. It's not that he believes it, it's that by now room temperature soda tastes better. So yes, after the excesses of the last holiday I am willing to call vegetables dipped in olive oil and garlic healthy and am willing to call bitter root vegetables antipasto. (Where I'm from antipasto is usually pepperoni, the saddest prosciutto, sliced mozzarella, Parmesan, and pickled pepperoncini- I feel like adding a couple of olives is pretty much the first step on a slippery slope to... a pile of bitter vegetables on a plate.)
Bagna cauda is supposed to be just ample olive oil and lots of chopped garlic, warmed gently. As someone who will take the occasional shot of vegetable oil when feeling low, oil and garlic isn't special enough for me. I added lemon and salt. (So exciting. Living the dream here.) So yes, heat one cup really good olive oil gently over a very low flame. Add six to eight cloves garlic, smashed and peeled. After about three minutes the garlic will be soft enough to smash further, if it pleases you to do so. Add the juice of two lemons and a dash of salt.
I used blanched kale, red endive, blanched carrots, sliced boiled beets with a splash of vinegar, thin sliced fennel bulb, and blanched Jerusalem artichokes. I would say to skip the carrots, but I'm pretty sure that it's the only thing everyone else ate. Seasonality is key, chickens- perhaps you are not reading this in the depths of winter and can choose from roasted peppers and ripe tomatoes and sauteed eggplant. Perhaps it is spring, and tiny baby vegetables are making themselves known. Do you wish to add some baked mushrooms? Some sweet onions? Some lovely spinach? Some olives and pickled artichoke hearts? Please do. Put whichever available vegetables that look delightful on a platter, and then dip them into the bagna cauda. (Some things- like blanched kale- require drizzling with the bagna cauda. Please eat blanched kale with a fork. For everyone's sake.)
I can feel my liver growing stronger. Hypothetically. Given holistic medicine isn't a crock.