Good morning and welcome to this week’s edition of Pantry, Project, Purpose. (I know, it’s been a little while.) I’m thrilled to report that, thanks to you amazing readers, I keep having to increase the fundraising goal for our World Central Kitchen holiday drive. I’m astounded by the generosity of this community — thank you to everyone who has contributed. (And for those of you who would still like to, you have until December 18. Forward me your donation receipt to be eligible to win a Nakano knife set.) In other encouraging news that feels important to document here for posterity, I heard that New York will most likely be administering its first COVID vaccinations as soon as this weekend. I know we are a long way off from normalcy, but I’ve let myself feel good about heading in the right direction. Now, about that delicious looking vegetable dish up there…
Pantry: Artichoke Sauce (with Roasted Veg)
If ever there was a recipe to be filed under “pantry” it would be Amy Chaplin’s artichoke sauce. In her amazing book Whole Food Cooking Every Day, she includes a comprehensive chart devoted to bright beautiful dressings that are based on vegetable purees, and I was VERY skeptical that her instructions for artichoke sauce, using those generic canned artichokes you see up there, and not much else, would yield something as creamy and luxurious as what she showed in her photo. Alas, 5 minutes later (seriously!), I was a believer. The basic formula is one can (drained), plus 1/4 cup of olive oil, one scallion, then enough water to reach desired consistency, then she recommends ways to flavor it with lemon, herbs, and aromatics. Its no-cream creaminess contrasts beautifully with roasted vegetables (as shown up top) and I’ve included one use for it below. Twenty years into this cooking thing and still nothing delights me as much as spinning gold from something humdrum.
Roast Winter Vegetables with Artichoke Sauce
Sauce adapted from Whole Food Cooking Every Day, by Amy Chaplin. To flesh out into a meal, consider serving with brothy beans or stewy lentils.
1 large bunch broccoli, trimmed
2-3 cups Brussels sprouts, halved
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1 lemon, halved
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 14-ounce can artichokes (quartered, whole, whatever), drained
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a sheet pan with foil, then spread vegetables and into one layer. Drizzle with about 1/4 cup of olive oil (maybe a little less), add salt and pepper, and toss. (I use my fingers for this to make sure everything is coated, but you can use a spoon or whatever.) Nestle in one of the lemon halves. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are crispy and almost charred.
While vegetables are roasting, add artichokes to a blender with remaining olive oil, juice from the remaining lemon half, salt, pepper, and a few tablespoons of water. Process until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the pitcher, and adding more water until it reaches desired consistency. I like the consistency to be creamy-hummus-ish for a dish like this, but if you want to use it as a salad dressing, Chaplin recommends up to 6 tablespoons of water to make it drizzle-able. Stir in fresh herbs if using.
Spread sauce on a plate as shown, then top with vegetables and squeeze with the roasted lemon half. (It will be hot, be careful.)
Project: Matzo Ball Soup
Happy Hanukkah! I will be celebrating tonight with latkes (page 73 of How to Celebrate Everything) and a big bowl of Matzo Ball soup, which will be a cross between Bubby’s and Leah Koenig’s (above) from Modern Jewish Cooking.
Purpose: Holiday Music from the Met!
My dear friend Annie (aka Mrs. Minty Peas) who plays French horn for the Met (that’s her all the way on the left) told me about the coolest thing: For only $15 a ticket, you can watch the Met Orchestra Brass play holiday classics, with a guest performance from Isabel Leonard, who Annie tells me is a very special soprano. (Opera aficionados know this already!) It premieres December 13, 2020 at 3pm EST and you can watch it any time between then and January 31, 2021. (Click here for info and tickets.) How beautiful would it be to have the most renowned orchestra playing holiday songs for you while you decorate the tree? Bonus: You get to support the Met, one of the greatest institutes in the world, which has had a very rough year.
Stay safe. Wear a mask.
The goal of the Project, Pantry, Purpose series to keep us sane, distracted, connected, and useful. It began in March 2020. Please continue to comment below with suggestions for recipes, projects (for kids and adults), good deeds, donation ideas, stories, movies, games, puzzles. Or just tell me how you’re doing, what your daily routine is, and especially how DALS can help you or people in your community. You can also email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.