I promise to return, tomorrow, to my ASD recovery six-month review. Meanwhile, I realized this evening, as I prepared it, that I have not yet posted the recipe for my most-favorite go-to dinner for Martin: Indian broccoli-and-greens purée. You may be thinking that broccoli-and-greens purée sounds too healthy to be tasty. This dish is indeed healthy. On the other hand, I pile on the fats and spices to make it rich and delicious. As evidence of its appeal, I offer an anecdote: This evening Adrian was helping Martin eat, while I meted out the day’s final supplements and prepared Martin’s room for bedtime. Martin was watching a Sesame Street video and obviously content with the food. Nevertheless, at some point Adrian (who had already polished off his own portion of purée) called, “Martin says he doesn’t want any more of his dinner. He says I can finish it.” Yes, my husband was attempting to steal food from our three-year-old son. It’s that yummy.
As to why this is a favorite go-to dish, it requires very little that is fresh, except for sweet potato or squash, and ginger, which can all hang around for quite a while before going bad. That means I can schedule broccoli-and-greens purée toward the end of the grocery-shopping cycle and not worry about the ingredients spoiling before I prepare the meal.
The most challenging ingredient is cashew cream. I make cashew cream at home. I soak raw cashews overnight in purified water, drain and rinse them, Vitamix them at high speed with more purified water, strain through a nut-milk bag to make cashew milk, then cook the milk over medium heat (stirring constantly to prevent scorching) until it becomes creamy. This concoction keeps well in the refrigerator. If you want to avoid making cashew cream at home, replacement options for this recipe include (1) a nondairy cream cheese that fits the requirements of your child’s current diet, such as Dr. Cow; (2) a nondairy yogurt that fits the requirements of your child’s current diet; or (3) creamed coconut (I like the Let’s Do…Organic brand), very modestly diluted with warm filtered water.
This recipe is adapted from a version of nariyal sak found in Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking. That’s a book about Vedic cooking, which among other things does not use onion or garlic—very helpful to me in these trying months until Martin is allowed to have them again. As I’ve made clear, I think onion and garlic are sustenance of the gods, except (apparently) Lord Krishna.
10 oz. frozen broccoli
10 oz. frozen spinach or kale
10 oz. frozen something else green, like asparagus or green beans
1 sweet potato (or 1/2 acorn squash), peeled and diced
2 green chili peppers (I leave these out right now)
1″ chunk of ginger root, peeled and sliced
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsps ground coriander
1 tsp salt (I replace with kelp or dried and ground celery)
1/4-1/3 cup ghee
2 tsps cumin seeds (preferably pre-soaked and dried)
1 tsp garam masala (this is an Indian spice, available at most groceries)
1/4-1/3 cup cashew cream (see introduction, above)
Put the frozen veggies, sweet potato or squash, chili peppers if using, ginger root, turmeric, coriander, and salt or salt replacement into a large pot, turn the heat to medium, and cover. Stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, let everything simmer until the sweet potato or squash is very tender, about 45 minutes. Then purée the cooked mixture in a food processor.
Heat the ghee over medium-to-medium-high heat in a large frying pan. (I know it seems like a lot of ghee, but everything else in the recipe is salubrious. Cut yourself a break and throw in ghee with abandon.) When the ghee is hot, add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for 30 seconds until they darken a little, then scoop in the entire puréed greens. Cook until all the ghee is absorbed into the greens mixture, about five minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the garam masala and cashew cream. Warm through and serve.
If your child is able to have grains, rice makes an ideal accompaniment to this dish. I try to complete the Indian effect by quickly frying, in ghee, the quinoa “pita breads” my mother makes for Martin and pretending that they are naan. That is mostly for my own amusement. Martin wouldn’t recognize a naan if it crawled into bed with him.
What should I use instead of ghee to veganize it for myself? I want to try it!
That’s a great question. I would say, depending on the taste you’re going for, that peanut oil would make for a nice savory touch, and coconut oil would sweeten it up a tad. Good luck!
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