I attended a cooking class a couple weeks ago offered by Haven's Kitchen here in NYC with some friends. The title was, "Good Food that's Good For You" and it really delivered! I am always looking for ways to improve the nutritional value of my cooking without sacrificing flavor and figured this class would provide me with a few new recipes and tips plus its always fun to do an activity like this with friends sometimes instead of the usual dinner out.
The class and instructors, Mia and Ashton, were so inspiring. I left excited and invigorated. I couldn't wait to remake every single thing we made during the class and apply the tips and ideas my cooking in general. Here's a dip and veggie dish we made. I was honestly blown away by how tasty this dip was while being vegan and full of healthy fats. The herb harissa sprinkle on top took the dip to an entirely new level giving it even more depth. Another surprise was the ever so slightly blanched vegetables, they were still crisp yet were a little more delicate and enjoyable. The combo was perfect. I just made it yesterday to bring to a neighborhood gathering and it was really well liked by all and those who are staying away from dairy were particularly appreciative.
Vegetables and Vegan Coconut Tahini Dip
(very slightly adapted from Haven's Kitchen)
6 cups of your favorite vegetables for dipping
1 head of broccoli, 2 bunches rainbow carrots, 1 - 2 cucumbers, a few radishes
1 cups haricot vert, 1 cups Brussels sprouts, 2 bunches broccoli rabe (~8 stalks)
1 cup full fat coconut yogurt
1/4 cup tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice (have extra on hand)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp fine sea salt (the original recipe calls for 1 tsp but I found it too salty) + more for blanching and ice bath
Fill a large pot with water and a pinch of sea salt, and bring to a high simmer. While the water is heating, wash and trim your vegetables. When the water is about to boil, add the firmer vegetables to water, starting with the densest vegetables first as they will take the longest to cook. Prepare an ice bath, by filling a large both with cold water, some ice and a pinch of salt, for the vegetables to plunge into when they come out of the boiling water to stop the cooking and preserve their color. As soon as you take the veggies out of the pot plunk them straight into the ice bath.
Haven's kitchen gave the example of: add Brussels sprouts and cover, add broccoli rabe after a minute and then the haricot vert about am minute after that. Once the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes after adding the haricot vert, drain and run under cool water or put in an ice bath to stop cooking.
I prefer to cook the vegetables separately so, for instance, you don't get little broccoli bits on the other veggies. I found carrots and broccoli only took about 4 mins tops. I might even go with 2 - 3 mins next time. I would leave cucumbers and radishes raw.
Lay the vegetables out to dry off while you make the dip. You could lay some clean kitchen towels on the counter to do so or put a towel or paper towels on a baking sheet and then lay your vegetables on that and set aside.
To make the dip: Combine coconut yogurt with tahini, 1 tbsp of lemon juice, 1 tbsp of olive oil (reserving remaining lemon and olive oil for garnish) and sea salt, mixing until fully combined. You can mix all of this in a bowl with a whisk but it is much easier in a food processor. Taste the dip and adjust based on what you think it needs. I added a bit more tahini, lemon and a splash of olive oil. It is very flexible. Over the weekend, i doubled the recipe and my coconut yogurt came in 5.2 oz containers. I didn't want to have just a little yogurt left so I put all four containers in which is a bit more than the recipe called for... which is probably why I had to add a little more tahini, lemon and oil in the end.
- Option A (per Haven's Kitchen): To serve, spread coconut tahini dressing generously on the bottom of a plate. Top with cooked vegetables and dress with remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Finish with Maldon sea salt and harissa spice, and serve.
- Option B: Arrange vegetables on a large platter (a wood cutting board would look amazing!) with a bowl for the dip. I squeezed a little lemon juice on the vegetables but left off the olive oil in the original Haven's kitchen recipe as I didn't want guests to get oil on their fingers when they picked up the veggies. Fill the bowl with some dip and top with a couple shakes of harissa spice. I found the dip salty enough so I left out the final sprinkle of Maldon sea salt Haven's Kitchen recommended. I like to include a spoon so people can put some dip on their plates with their choice of vegetables allowing unabashed double dipping.
- Coconut Yogurt - As with anything, you want to find one with as few added extra ingredients as possible. I wanted to use Anita's coconut yogurt, a local Brooklyn brand, as it has the cleanest ingredients list I have seen. But I couldn't find any in time so I went with CoYo's Natural Coconut Yogurt that I picked up from Whole Foods, which is a good alternative.
- Tahini - Seed + Mill makes the most amazing tahini! If you can get some, you won't be disappointed. The quality of your dishes really can only be as good as the quality of the ingredients!! They have a store located in Chelsea Market in Manhattan and you can buy through their website to have it shipped to you.
- Harissa - The Herb Harrisa Spice from New York Shuk is used here. It's the perfect complement. Worth buying online if you can't get it in a local store. I picked some up at Hudson & Charles in the West Village, one of our favorite local butchers.