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Pure Puree

September 20, 2010

I love being a member of my CSA, but it’s hard.  Above all else in the Fussy household, we abhor waste.  Especially when good food is involved.  It has something to do with honoring ingredients, yadda yadda yadda.

But what do you do when there are just so many vegetables?
How can one family make a dent in that volume of produce?

The answer involves my trusty Cuisinart food processor.

This is another case where once one understands the technique behind a certain preparation, a recipe isn’t really required.  What follows are a few ideas for all kinds of fun you can have turning fresh, space-consuming vegetables into tasty purees that have all manners of uses.

Sound fun?

Here is the overall technique: fill up the food processor with a base vegetable, add a complementary but contrasting ingredient, and don’t forget to season.  While the machine is running, drizzle in olive oil.  Taste and correct seasoning, adding acid if needed.  Puree some more and you’ve made something delicious!

Maybe it will make more sense with specific examples.  And I’m going to make this super simple for those who aren’t so comfortable in the kitchen.

Here is an easy eggplant and feta dip, which can double as a sandwich spread.  Throw an eggplant in a 400 degree oven.  If you want to get fancy, make a few slits and shove some sliced garlic in there.  If not, just poke it with a fork a few times.  Don’t forget to use a baking sheet or some kind of roasting pan, otherwise you’ll end up with a mess on your hands.  Sit down for one of your hour-long shows, and let it do its thing.  Your eggplant will now resemble a very large raisin.  All is good.

Slice it in half and scoop out the flesh into a fine mesh strainer.  Let it sit while you assemble your food processor and gather about a quarter pound of feta, a bottle of extra virgin olive oil, and some salt and pepper.

Discard whatever bitter juices drip from the eggplant and toss the flesh into the processor.  Break up the feta and throw that in too.  In regards to the feta, remember you can always add more, but you can’t take it away.  Start the machine, and continuously drizzle in a slow stream of olive oil until the puree starts to look creamy.  Stop pouring the olive oil and really let the machine work.  The eggplant seeds need to be eviscerated and the cheese needs to be thoroughly obliterated.  Now taste.  Add some freshly ground black pepper, and a bit of salt as needed.  If you think it tastes heavy, a little lemon juice will brighten up the flavor nicely.

And you are done.  Congratulations.

Sure, you can get fancy.  You can run out and get tahini and make your own baba ganoush.  In this case tahini stands in for the feta as a rich, fully flavored counter point to the eggplant.  You can also start to experiment with herbs and spices.  Or you can substitute other vegetables for the eggplant, like roasted red peppers.

If you wanted to get really fancy, you can start brainstorming different uses for the puree.  Perhaps instead of feta, you choose ricotta and turn this spread into a ravioli filling.  Or you could audaciously spread it on a crouton that is floating on tomato soup, which is then covered with mozzarella cheese and finally baked, for a twist on traditional eggplant parmesan.

I think you get the idea.  And if you like this, I’ve got a stack of other seasonal purées that are just dying to meet you.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 20, 2010 10:45 am

    My garden was super prolific this year. Like you, I too, made good use of both the food processor and the blender. To keep up with my tomatoes I roasted them at 350 with onions and garlic a splash of olive oil and some S&P. No effort on my part!
    After about an hour or so they should start to caramelize, add some red wine and let roast for another half hour. Blend with some fresh herbs and you’re done . . . unless you’re fussy(!) – I’m fussy so I take the extra step of running the puree through my Foley food mill.
    The original recipe can be found here – http://www.smilepolitely.com/food/taking_the_work_out_of_pasta_sauce/

    So, what do you do with a lot of zucchini??? Got a puree for that???

  2. noo permalink
    September 20, 2010 10:49 am

    We give the extra to our rabbits.

  3. Jenny on the Block permalink
    September 20, 2010 12:04 pm

    I would also throw in a vote for the stick blender. Now that we are looking at a month or so of root vegetables in our CSA, my family has a future of pureed soups in front of them. Nothing like cubing up some squash , maybe a potato, some broth, sauteed onion and garlic and some herbs and/or spices, boil until soft and then puree with the stick blender. Add a bit of cream, and voila – Soup for dinner. And Kim, it works with zucchini too! I think pureed zucchini soup is especially good with curry.

    Of course, it works with the Cuisinart too, but I make a huge mess when I put too much hot liquid in my food processor.

  4. Chris permalink
    September 20, 2010 10:11 pm

    Kim, you can make a flourless pizza crust with grated zucchini, egg, and shredded cheese, then top it with more veggies, meat, cheese, sauce – whatever you like.

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