Sunday, May 15, 2011

THE ALISON/DRAGONWAGON PROJECT: Pamela Jones's Absolutely Incredible Roasted Vegetable Salsa and Beans-and-Greens Enchiladas

These are the vegetables before they take a bath in olive oil,
roast in the oven and get pureed in a smooth, spicy salsa..

This salsa ("Passionate Vegetarian," page 915) tastes luxurious, but it's actually an economical show-stopper. I made a big batch, snacked off it with multi-grain chips, used part of it in Dragonwagon's "Beans-and-Greens Enchiladas" (PV, page 342)* and froze the rest.

Making this salsa feels luxurious, probably because it involves a bountiful bowl of colorful produce and the food processor. It's a piece of kitchen equipment that's essential for the everyday cook. I'm sure Dragonwagon would agree. There's also something high power about it. Something elusive for those unaccustomed to its charms. You get to spinning that once-confusing lid on and off...snapping it into position with ease is akin to those who can wield a chef's knife with that perfectly pivoted "chop chop chop."

Dragonwagon's friend's recipe calls for a few pounds of fresh tomatoes and tomatillos, a blend of peppers (poblano, ancho, Hungarian wax, jalapeno, serrano), an onion, a head of garlic, cilantro and cumin seeds. In my current, not-so-urbanized city, I couldn't find the tomatillos, so I added some prepared salsa verde to my finished blend.

Pretty straightforward, otherwise. Toss everything (unpeeled, uncored) but the spice and herbs in olive oil and roast for 40 minutes at 400. I must admit I got rid of the seeds first, although I am sure that robbed the salsa of some well-developed heat. I wouldn't have been able to endure the heat anyway.

The smell of these vegetables roasting is worth the extra time and effort...and I love recipes that give me a reprieve, buying me time to clean up or just kick up my feet.

Peeling the garlic skins is much easier once the oils have released in the oven. I kept the skins on the peppers, though, a deviation from PV.

Putting everything in the food processor is the grand finale, with a good sprinkle of sea salt. Buzz until smooth and velvety. Curtains close.

This recipe gets three checks, suitable for your household and for guests, who may just want to take the reserve home.

*As for PV's "Beans-and-Greens Enchiladas," no picture for them, but that is no diss to their deliciousness. I wish I had used real cheese; I substituted veggie cheese. I also froze my leftovers, which have reheated well for those who aren't texture-phobes. The tortillas get pretty soft and saucy this way, which I don't think Dragonwagon would approve of too much, given her various PV rants on overly sauced foods! For a mid-week day meal, these protein-packed enchiladas taste like perfection, even if the texture isn't.  

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