Creamy vegan spinach & herb sauce

Creamy vegan spinach and herb sauce

Creamy vegan spinach and herb sauce

My favorite song at the moment is that of the white throated sparrow. It’s a simple little song consisting of four tones; apparently the second is a whole note lower than the first, and it ends a minor third below that. It sounds to some people as though the bird is saying “Po-or Jack Peabody Peabody Peabody.” And that is our clumsy, human way of describing this wild wistful little song. I asked Malcolm what it sounded like, and he said, “Sad but hopeful.” And that’s exactly how it sounds to me, too! It’s nostalgic and full of memories, but it sounds like spring and good thoughts for the future. I love the fact that birds have dialects and regional accents. Your knowledge of a white throated sparrow’s song will be different from mine if you live in a distant part of the country. I feel so lucky to have this particular song be my white throated sparrow-neighbor’s song. And a sparrow is such an ordinary little bird. If you saw sparrows in your garden you’d say, “Oh it’s just a bunch of sparrows,” and not even take the trouble to find out what kind of sparrow they are. They’re small and plump and drab and brown. But the white throated sparrow has dashing yellow spots on his head, and when he opens his mouth…glory! I love the fact that we can try to define the song according to our understanding, and describe the intervals between pitches and the rhythms of the notes, but in reality, the song contains subtleties beyond our human musical language. We can never pin down the specifics of melody or meter, just as we can never know what the bird is saying when he repeats his song over and over. And that mystery makes it even more beautiful. So this is the song stuck in my head, that I whistle over and over as I go through my day. This is my favorite song at the moment.

This week’s interactive playlist will be all of our favorite songs at this moment in time. I obviously need your help with this one, or it will just be a short list of songs that I like. Funnily enough, all of the songs I added to the list sound wistful to me. Must be springtime! I haven’t been listening to anything new lately. I’ve been playing some songs for the boys that I used to love, and I’ve had a few longtime favorites buzzing around in my head for one reason or another. What about you? What have you been listening to? Add your songs to the playlist, or leave a comment and I’ll add them myself.

This vegan sauce was very smooth and flavorful. I utilized two of my favorite creamy-vegan-sauce making tricks…cauliflower and almonds. They’re both quite mild flavors, but they blend up nicely. This sauce, as you can see, is lovely and GREEN!! It’s a good sauce for spring. I added grape tomatoes and capers, for a little juicy tangy kick, but you could use it as it is, or add any kind of vegetable or bean you like. White beans or chickpeas would be nice. We ate it over orchiette pasta. If you add less water, you’d have a nice purée as a side dish or base for a more substantial main meal. If you added more water or vegetable broth, you’d have a smooth velvety soup…a bisque.

1/2 medium-sized head of cauliflower, florets only
3 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t red pepper flakes
1 t dried basil, or a small handful of fresh
1 t rosemary, chopped
1 t dried thyme, or 2 t fresh
2 packed cups baby spinach
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 t salt
1 t balsamic vinegar
freshly ground pepper

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 t capers

Bring a medium-sized pot of salted water to boil and drop in the cauliflower. Boil until firm but tender – about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat, but don’t drain.

In a blender combine the almonds, salt, and baby spinach and process till just mixed.

In a small skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and the herbs. Fry briefly until the garlic starts to brown. Remove from heat, let cool briefly, and then pour the oil over the spinach. Process everything until combined.

With a slotted spoon, add the cauliflower florets to the mixture. Process. Add the balsamic and black pepper. Add enough of the cauliflower cooking water to make a thick, smooth purée. You can make it as thin or thick as you like. Anywhere from a soup to a sauce to a purée that you can serve as a side dish. Stir in the tomatoes and capers, if you like.


10 thoughts on “Creamy vegan spinach & herb sauce

  1. A bit busy elsewhere on the internet today, but I’ve added Pulp – The Birds In Your Garden. My first thought reading about your local sparrow, a passionate song and a recent “rediscovery”.

      • I’ve been dropping hints about a chanson that I’m fond of and have nominated in the past. You, Ejaydee and others have nominated others by the same artist over the years. A charming and pastoral song, but by no means an innocent one…

      • NOoooo! Is it in French? The only “chanson” I have is Carla Bruni, and I DON’T KNOW WHAT SHE’S SAYING!!! I wish I could guess it, but I’m ridiculously tired at the moment and all of my rational thought processeeze have shut down for the forseeable.

  2. You are such a good listener and observer, Claire. I have a pair of “little brown birds” who have built a nest in my garage. There are lots of ways they can get in and out, but when they first started the nest they would panic when I walked in and fly about frantically hitting walls. Now they know there’s nothing to fear. I have no idea what kind they are or what they sound like, but their tails point up at a jaunty angle instead of pointing down.

    The bird dog story is wonderful. It reminds me of the writing of Daniel Woodrell (Winter’s Bone) and specifically a passage in The Death of Sweet Mister (which I highly recommend).

    Clio is a lucky dog.

  3. Yes! Those dear white throats! They are among the community of birds who “come home” to their bamboo roost here at sunset. We often stand in the stand for a free concert of voices and wing flutters. Please, join us one sunset.

    I can’t access your playlist from here, but I’ve been listening to opera singer Stephanie Blythe’s tribute to Kate Smith which aired last Friday on PBS and you can still access online:

    The concert made my parents, soooooo happy. Dad is a WWII vet. Mom was inspired to dust off her harmonica and play those tunes once again. And, it is a great concert for younger people to learn the spirit of those times: sad but hopeful.

    Many of the songs are sad and hopeful. Two that come to mind for your current post:

    When the Moon Comes over the Mountain

    The White Cliffs of Dover, made popular by UK’s Vera Lynn, and here by Kate Smith

    Stephanie Blythe should be nominated the American People’s Princess. And HRH Stephanie would love this blog post. When not performing at the Met, she loves being home with husband and dogs in the garden and bird watching.

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