Tahina, 3 cups
Lemons, juice of 3-4 (1/2 cup)
Garlic, 4 cloves
Sea salt, 1 TB
Cumin, 1 TB
Szeged hot paprika, up to 1/4 tsp (opt.)
Water, 5 cups (bring to 8 c. mark in blender or VitaMix)
Cilantro, ¼ lg. bunch, chopped (opt.)
Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender. Pulse to get started mixing ingredients, then turn up to high and run until smooth.
If cilantro is desired, roughly chop, then add to mix in blender. Pulse a few times until evenly chopped.
Today at Joe Caputo & Sons they had beautiful, bright green, firm tomatoes. I thought longingly of the dish I would have made with them a couple of years back with a spicy tomato sauce and brown, bubbly cheese.
What to do? What to do? I’m really tired of making those vegan cheese sauces that are supposed to taste like cheese and don’t. Time to just focus on making something tasty.
Well, I bought one of those lovely tomatoes for myself along with a little fresh basil and some leeks, thinking I might get inspired. I hurried home with my find to see what I could concoct.
What you see is the result, and it was good! I sliced the tomato, then used my grandma’s routine for making her southern fried chicken: she dipped the chicken first in buttermilk, then in salted flour, then in buttermilk again and finally once again in flour. I used almond milk, though, and salted flaxseed instead of flour. It made a perfect crust. I dropped each piece into my little Waring Pro Fryer for 3 minutes at 375 degrees, and they came out perfectly, with a nice crispy crust.
I made a sauce by boiling one peeled potato, one carrot, one cut up leek, a tsp. of salt, a tsp. of onion powder and a good pinch of hot paprika in half a cup to one cup of water. As soon as the potatoes were soft, I put it all (including the cooking water) into my VitaMix and whizzed it with three tablespoons of oil. I used a some almond milk to thin it as needed and adjusted the seasoning. It came out nicely!
I drizzled the sauce over the finished tomatoes and sprinkled a little fresh basil on top. The only thing I would do differently next time is spice up the sauce a bit more. Oh, and reduce the quantity of the sauce. That one tomato made six slices — but one potato made enough sauce for about six tomatoes!
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Harif (Hebrew – means “sharp”) or Harissa (Arabic) is our Red Hot Sauce. Chili Arbol gives it its red color. It is fiery but flavorful.
I make my sauce in a VitaMix, which blends it a little more than the traditional methods, giving it a beautiful burnt orange color. I usually soak the peppers overnight before blending, but on a recent occasion I forgot to pre-soak them and found that I could accomplish almost the same thing by covering them with water in a pot, bringing it to a boil and letting them sit for 20-30 minutes.
HARIF (Makes 1 pint)
Chili Arbol, Dried, 1 Qt., soaked and drained
Garlic, 2 TB
Sea salt, 1 tsp
Coriander, 2 tsp
Caraway, 2 tsp
Extra virgin olive oil, 1 cup
Soak chilis overnight in a quart container filled to the top with chilis & water. Drain and squeeze. Alternatively, place dried chilis in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil, turn off heat and let sit for 20-30 minutes, drain and squeeze.
Add extra virgin olive oil to VitaMix.
Put garlic into VitaMix (2 TB chopped or a small handful).
Add soaked and squeezed chilis.
Add all seasonings.
Run VitaMix until tangerine colored paste is achieved. May have to push material into blades until all is pulled into the vortex.
Scrape bowl as thoroughly as possible into a 1 pint – 1 quart container.
Wash VitaMix bowl by filling 2/3 with hot water and adding a small drop of dish soap and blending. This will remove all hot sauce from the blades.
I made and offered two hot sauces when I started in the food business: Z’hug and Harif. For those who like it hot, either of these sauces is a wonderful accompaniment to a meal.
Gutturals are difficult for Americans. Staff and customers came up with so many delightful variations on the pronunciation of z’hug, including “zee-hug”. Finally we settled on referring to the sauces as Green Sauce or Red Sauce if they preferred Harif / Harissa.
Z’hug is a Yemenite Jalapeno-based hot sauce, hence “green.” I make mine in a food processor. The following will make about one quart, so you may want to halve or quarter the recipe, depending on the amount your machine will process evenly.
Z’HUG (Makes 1 quart)
Garlic, 1/4+ cup (a big handful)
Cilantro, 1 large bunch, chopped
Jalapeño pepper, 12 lg, chunked
Sea salt, 1 tsp
Cumin, 1 tsp
Szeged hot paprika, 1 tsp
Extra virgin olive oil, 4 TB
Put garlic into food processor first, then chopped cilantro, then chunked jalapeño.
Pulse 20-25 times until all is evenly chopped.
Add all seasonings.
Pulse 2 or 3 times more and push down side of processor container until all contents are evenly chopped.
Add 3-4 TB olive oil and pulse once or twice more.