August 31, 2014

Zucchini Dip with Mint & Za'atar

I haven't been cooking much lately because I'm kind of obsessed with a new hobby.

I've been knitting.

I learned the basic knit stitch a few years ago after I took a class. Everyone raved about how easy knitting is, that you can even knit a scarf while watching a movie! They lied. At that time, I found knitting to be tedious and exhausting. The patterns were too mathematical for me, I got frustrated when I made a mistake and had to start over (which happened often), and so I gave up. Half of a red scarf pierced with wooden knitting needles sat in my nightstand drawer until last fall.

I decided to reteach myself how to knit by watching YouTube videos and to finish that scarf. Since I'd made many mistakes, the scarf was uneven and had a bunch of holes in it. I ripped it all out and started over. Then, I made another scarf using a different stitch. Then another. Then a baby blanket. Then a couple of ear warmer headbands. Then a hat. I'm working on another scarf now.

I'm addicted. I have a bag full of needles and yarns. I have a list of things I want to make: more scarves and hats, fingerless gloves, a shawl, a bigger blanket...

Now I find knitting to be soothing, a way to calm my frequent bouts of anxiety. When I feel wonky, I pick up my needles and focus on the stitches. It forces me to think about something else. Plus, I like the sound of the needles softly clicking together, the feel of the soft yarn as it pulls through my fingers.

I've realized that knitting is a lot like cooking. I feel a sense of productiveness and accomplishment when I make scarf just as when I make a soufflé. I start with a ball of yarn and a pair of needles and made something new, just like when I start with eggs, milk, and flour to bake a cake. I MADE THIS, I think. It's hugely satisfying.

* * * 

I tried this new recipe to use up a giant zucchini that a co-worked gave me & some chocolate mint (which only has a faint chocolate flavor but is named so because of a tinge of brown in the leaves & stems of the plant) a friend gave me a couple weeks ago. Za'atar is a Middle Eastern seasoning blend of herbs (often oregano, thyme, marjoram, and savory), sesame seeds, and sumac. Traditionally, it is eaten with pita dipped in olive oil. I served this refreshing green dip with pita chips.

Zucchini Dip with Mint & Za'atar
adapted from Eating Well

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium zucchini, roughly diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed & peeled
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons za'atar

  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini and garlic, season with salt & pepper, and cook--stirring occasionally--until softened, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat & let cool for 5 minutes. 
  • Transfer the zucchini to a food processor. Add the yogurt, lemon juice, mint, & za'atar. Puree until smooth.
  • Spoon the dip into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with more za'atar if desired. Chill until ready to serve.

1 comment:

freerangegirl said...

I know that feeling! I taught myself to knit when I was expecting my first child and I haven't been able to put away my needles since! Great blog!