I am making the Dean’s Lunch and one of the dinners is a Vegan. Jan and I finally settled on a salad with crackers and a selection of schmears. To meet the needs of the one, the many must eat Vegan—to paraphrase. On the other hand, just because something has no animal products in it does not mean it can’t be delicious.
Note: Other people might call this a spread or a dip, but given the choice I will always go with the Yiddish—Why? I should tell you! (voice pitch goes up and palms pointing out) [but let’s not get into my personal history]. A schmear is sometime you spread on something plain—a cracker, toast, a bagel—to make it better. It can be as simple as butter or schmaltz, but it can be any combination of ingredients, as long as it can be spread on with a knife.
This is a dish that is best made the night before you plan to use it. At first, the bean paste will be a bit “watery,” but overnight the starch from the beans will continue to hydrate and thicken the schmear. The flavors will also meld more completely with the rest.
Note: Actually, I am making a selection of Vegan and cream crackers and providing some salami to add to the salad for the meat eaters.
Karl’s Vegan Artichoke Spinach Schmear
1 cup spinach, frozen
½ cup artichoke hearts
1 can Cannelloni beans (14.5 oz.)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, sliced
½ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
1 a sprig of flat leafed parsley (garnish)
1. Add the spinach to a pot of boiling water.
2. Blanch the spinach for 2 minutes and then place it in the ice water to stop it from over cooking.
Tip: If the artichoke hearts are frozen add them to the pot and fish them out before draining the spinach.
3. Drain the water and taking a fist full of spinach squeeze as much water out as you can. Repeat until all of the spinach is dry and you have several ‘sausages’ of spinach.
4. Slice the spinach ‘sausages’ finely. Fluff the spinach slightly to break it up and return it to the bowl.
5. Mince the artichoke hearts finely and add them to the pot.
Tip: If you do not have a handy Middle Eastern store handy that carries frozen artichoke hearts, you can use a drained jar of pickled artichokes.
Note: If using jarred artichokes, you may leave out the oil and vinegar and just use the dressing that comes with the pickled artichokes.
6. Put the Cannelloni beans, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, pepper, and salt into a standing blender.
7. Process until the beans are a smooth paste.
8. Pour the bean paste into the bowl and fold in the spinach and artichokes.
9. Let the schmear rest for at least one hour—preferably overnight—transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with a sprig of flat leafed parsley.