Monday, November 15, 2010

From Trash to Table, Happy Accidents and Mint Chimichurri


A few weeks ago, my husband and I were in a popular Chicago cocktail bar populated with 20something hipsters when 1980's favorite, Duran Duran's Hungry Like the Wolf streamed through the speakers.

Days after that, I drove by a chic Lincoln Park boutique. In its windows, it's manequines wore asymetrical belts slung around their hips, just like the one I wore as a high schooler in 1986.

I discovered the last indication that the styles of the 1980's are back with a vengeance in the pages of the food section detailing pesto varieties.

Oh, snore.

Perhaps, I overdosed on pesto as future foodies during the Reagan/Poppy Bush era, but the comeback of the ground herb paste doesn't interest me. Not that I don't love the combination of sweet basil and pungent garlic bound together with olive oil. I do. But the recipe developer's recent tendency to transform every other leftover herb into (fill-in-blank) pesto leaves me cold.

I, instead, turn to another herb based condiment: chimichurri. Chimichurri, a traditional South American condiment is tart and refreshing whereas pesto is rich and velvety. Ususally made with parsley, chimichurri is a great way to transform leftover mint - an herb that I always seem to buy too much of.

Pairing it with a strip steak from our meat share, a delicious treat found in our last month's delivery, and another leftover, Spiced Sweet Potato Mash, Thor and I made a happy discovery. Sweet potatoes and mint are a delicious combination - one that I plan to repeat on Thanksgiving.

Mint Chimichurri

1 1/2 cups mint leaves
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Puree all of the ingredients in a food processor. Serve with grilled meats or sweet potatoes.

I'll be teaching a Trash to Table class on November 26 at the Notebaert Nature Museum, showing how to transform leftovers into delcious dishes. For more information, click here.

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