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Friday, October 3, 2014

Daring Greatly Dinner

Our guests were certainly daring enough to try black spaghetti with Thai flavored pesto
What does daring greatly mean to you?  In the healthy kitchen, it means introducing our diners to new and unusual ingredients, used in unexpected ways.  We recently had to opportunity to work with Cancer Wellness facilitator, Angela Buttimer, during her Daring Greatly workshop.  Daring Greatly, is a book by Brené Brown, that explores the power that can come from allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.  The name for Brown's book stems from the following quotation, from a speech given by Teddy Roosevelt in 1910:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
I love these words and the older I get, the more I can relate to what Mr. Roosevelt was trying to convey.  I may not have always "dared greatly" in my personal life, but most certainly have always done so with my palate, and thus, welcomed the chance to  help create a menu with Chef Nancy for this workshop.

The challenge of turning meat and potatoes eaters, into healthy eaters is a task we face daily, and the Daring Greatly dinner was another opportunity to use some of our staple ingredients in new and exciting ways.  We started the meal with a seafood terrine, which was a huge hit with our guests.  They never guessed that we had added calcium rich sardines to their appetizer.  The entree consisted of cauliflower steaks with puttanesca sauce and black bean pasta, topped with a Thai style pesto.  Dessert was a trio of chocolate ricotta creams.  The participants had fun trying to identify the various flavors (Cayenne and Cinnamon, Cardamom and Orange) used in the dessert. 

I made the black bean pasta and Thai pesto and have shared the recipe below.  This dish certainly does not resemble any conventional pasta and pesto recipe, and that is Daring Greatly as far as I am concerned.  The guests devoured this odd looking meal with enthusiasm and gusto, which leads me to believe that they were most definitely paying attention during Angela's workshop.  I challenge you all to "dare greatly" the next time you are grocery shopping or planning a meal, and as always, make every plate something to be passionate about!

Thai-Style Pesto:

1 bunch Italian parsley
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch Thai basil
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
5 cloves garlic
1 2" piece of fresh ginger, peeled
3 jalapeños (keep seeds and ribs for a spicier sauce)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 tsp of sea salt
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Step One:
Place first ten ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.  

Step Two:
With motor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until mixture is fully emulsified.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Serve over pasta or rice.  This sauce is great for a cold or warm pasta dishes.  Its raw and vegan and when served over a gluten-free pasta or grain, you will be a rock star to all of your friends and family for having made a meal containing all of the most current culinary buzz words!

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