I arrived at work Monday to a sea of green. Most people were wearing green, sweaters or pants or dresses, with some sort of shamrock detailing. And there I was, dressed for a funeral. In my defense, it was Monday. My co-workers commented about my lack of St. Patrick’s day spirit, picked up the scent of condescension, the whiff of superiority emanating from my non-conformity, and skirted around my cubicle busyness. I think they were sad. Or disappointed. I was confused. St. Patrick’s day doesn’t have much meaning for me I guess. With one parent from Hungary and the other from New Zealand, my affiliation with Ireland and celebration of Christianity is distant. Sure, I can relate to a holiday dedicated to consuming copious amounts of alcohol, but wearing a green cardigan to work is a poor substitute [wife edits: I mean, it’s just not as fun is it?].
I realize, with a laugh, that I married an Irishman. The Gearhead was born in Belfast. But he doesn’t celebrate St. Patrick’s day and he doesn’t have the lyrical accent that can lure you into all sorts of naughtiness [wife edits: sigh]. It’s been a challenge just getting him to celebrate his birthday. Let’s call this what it is: morbid indifference. You might attribute this to his recent passage through the mid-century mark, but no, he doesn’t like birthdays in general. This is difficult for the rest of us who appreciate the ritual of celebrating another turn around the sun. Before I move too far down that shillelagh, let’s riff off that cycle reference instead.
I’ve been craving green. The winter cycle is stuck on replay. We’ve had hints of spring. I smelled the earth, as it began to soften beneath the rotting snow the other day. I’ve gulped the rays of yellow sun and felt drunk on light. Spring can do that. But as I write this, the wind is whistling through the cracks in the house and ice pellets sand the windows. There is comfort though, knowing the maple harvest has begun. At least the maple trees are responding to this schizophrenic weather with hugs that squeeze deliciousness from their limbs. Still we’re a long way off from planting seeds.
I created this dish somewhat out of desperation. Root vegetables continue as a main stay but I wanted to dress them up with something to make my taste buds scream kerpow! – in a good way. Though I improvised this recipe, the sauce
derives its flavours from African, South American and/or Middle Eastern influences. It’s fantastic to spruce up roast root vegetables and I served it with lentils and goat cheese to tame the chili’s heat somewhat. It makes a dynamite vegetarian meal. I hope you try it. Having it made it twice already, I now crave it. Almost as much as spring.
To dress a warm winter salad of roasted root vegetables, lentils and goat cheese
Handful of fresh parsley, stems removed, chopped finely
Bigger handful of fresh cilantro, chopped finely
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced very finely
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ – ½ teaspoon cayenne powder (you could use a birds eye chili, minced finely)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Juice of one whole lemon
Extra virgin olive oil – ¼ – 1/2 cup
Add all the ingredients, except the olive oil, into a bowl. Mix together thoroughly. Slowly add in the olive oil in a steady stream, mixing as you go, until the mixture becomes a smooth paste. This is excellent with fish, chicken or pork, but I like it best with roast root vegetables. For complete instructions on the warm, root vegetable salad, see this video link of me cooking it up!