I tip my hat to everyone who offered up their opinions on what real food means. If you haven't had a chance to scroll through the discussion, I encourage you to do so. One of the things that makes me proudest about this blog is the level of thought and care you put into your comments, so truly, thank you for the value-added.
(To those interested in pursuing the school food discussion, I will revisit this topic again, in depth, but may do so on another forum. Stay tuned for more info. Also, any lurkers not comfortable commenting should always feel free to email me privately and express your interest that way. I'll then get a better sense for whether this topic is worth pursuing here or somewhere else.)
On to today's recipe.
I have no idea what happens at your house during the pre-dinner hour, but here everyone's starving once 5:30pm hits. It doesn't matter if we collectively nibbled and snacked all afternoon long, at that hour the I'm hungrys come fast and furious.
So yesterday, as a pot of pinto beans from the Portland farmers market bubbled on the stove, I whipped up this creamy spinach-cashew spread for the hungry masses. We slathered it thickly on crackers and used it to fill the long tunnels in a few crisp celery stalks. As you may recall, I'm not even a big celery fan, but damn if they weren't the perfect delivery vehicle for this toasty spread.
Plus, it's real food -- in every sense of the word.
Recipe for Creamy Spinach Cashew Spread
This is a very mild spread, perfect for younger palates or those who don't want anything too spicy. You can add a little zip by playing with the seasonings, upping the lemon, tossing in an extra clove of garlic, or experimenting with a few rings of your favorite chile. Just don't overwhelm the delicate cashew flavor, which really shines when you keep things simple.
Makes a scant 3/4 cup
2 ounces fresh baby spinach, rinsed, with water still clinging lightly to the leaves (about 1 cup, tightly packed)
1/2 cup whole roasted, unsalted cashews
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 ounce cream cheese
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
Black pepper, to taste (optional)
Combine the spinach, cashews, and garlic in the bowl of a small food processor or mini-chop and process for about 15 seconds, or until finely chopped and pulverized. Stop the machine and scrape the sides once about halfway through.
Add the remaining ingredients and process an additional 30 seconds, or until creamy, scraping halfway through to incorporate all the ingredients evenly.
Use immediately, or chill and serve. Keep refrigerated.