Effortlessness is taken for granted. In the skills we have, we forget how it came to be that we do them effortless-ly. We forget that first we loved something and wanted to do it all the time, and then repeatedly put ourselves into a position where continued practice became a part of life.
Cooking is for me a skill that is mostly effortless, and every now and then I am reminded of where I started. My neighbor told me a funny story the other day about trying to get her husband to cook occasionally. He agreed to cook, thought it was a cool idea, and then, throughout the actual cooking process proceeded to ask questions like, “Is this the measuring cup you use? How much salt should I add? Is this the pan you would use?” She had to point out that if he was going to ask all those questions and need constant guidance, it was really like she was cooking anyway. She had been hoping that he would be able to take on the task and only call for her when dinner arrived on the table. We all had to go through the process of learning how much salt and which pan would work best, but when the skill becomes effortless, we forget.
Recently, I had the opportunity to watch a cook who makes it look effortless. Another neighbor, and CSA sharer, Courtney, whipped up some game snacks for a World Cup game a few days ago, and her work was impressive. She knew exactly where everything was, she had a plan, and her work was done efficiently. I never once pained while watching her, and in fact, marveled at her plan and technique.
Her brilliant and simple idea was to make a baked veggie dip using kale, spinach and broccoli from our CSA box. I riffed on her idea and spiced it up just a bit with some jalapeno. If you choose to bake it, do it quickly as the greens will brown under heat. I heated the one above under the broiler for just a few minutes which seemed to work well.
Baked Veggie Dip
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small bunch “adolescent” kale, chopped
- 1 bunch fresh spinach, chopped
- 1 small head broccoli, chopped
- 1 fresh jalapeno
- 1 small bunch fresh basil
- 2 0z. cream cheese
- 1 cup Pecorino Romano
- 1 cup white cheese (provolone, mozzarella, cheddar)
- Dash salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- splash of milk
Saute garlic for a minute in hot olive oil, add broccoli, kale and spinach. Cook until veggies are bright green and wilted.
Cut the hard cheeses into small chunks and run through the food processor, or grate them if you don’t have a processor. Add the cream cheese, jalapeno, basil, salt and pepper and the sautéed veggies. Pulse the processor until everything starts to pull together. Add the milk through the feed tube until the dip is creamy.
Put the dip into a small baking dish or ramekin. Bake for a few minutes right under the broiler until bubbly and beginning to brown.