Crushed Peas 'n Carrots in a Smoky Yogurt Dressing

Recently, I have been extremely drawn to the notion of small meals that pack a flavor punch. I have a feeling this attraction to "mini plates" of clean, healthy foods is a combination of a strong desire for the warm weather that typically provides us with this type of eating, and simply paying more attention to my own hunger cues and appetite. Without thinking, I can pack it away with the best of them, clearing a plate full of calorie-laden food without a blink of an eye or any serious "stuffed" feelings afterwards. However, if I sit up and pay attention (and, let's face it, slow down), I notice that despite this "ability," I'm satiated after a much smaller amount of food.

I have also been so attracted to all of this talk of the raw diet I have been hearing. Any food habit that includes the word "diet" throws a red flag up in the air for me as a budding nutritionist, but from what I've read, this "diet" is far from it - it is much more of a lifestyle than a crash course in detoxing. Yes, people use it as a temporary cleanse, but I can understand the appeal of adopting it as a lifestyle much more. There's just something about raw food that feels clean, which is an adjective you'll hear me throwing around about some of the dishes I make. I will never attempt to go 100% raw. I'm not even ready to say that I'm going to go any percent raw right now. But I do think it would be nice to incorporate into my diet in some way. Maybe if my cholesterol levels haven't been scared into a reasonable range when I get them rechecked in a month, I'll take a more serious look into these kind of eating habits.

Until then, I'll just have to oogle articles about the topic from afar, and savor the not-raw-but-still-refreshing recipes I do happen to stumble upon (and the occasional raw one that I encounter incidentally). This meal, this concoction of peas and carrots and yogurt, is a wonderful example of such a dish. Originally from Smitten Kitchen, I tweaked it a bit and came up with this cool, sweet, tangy, very filling appetizer, side, or light main dish. I called it a little heavy in my notes, which runs counter to the picture I'm painting now, but with the few adjustments I will make next time (there will be a next time), I think that will be taken care of. The portion size was a little too large (particularly the dressing) and the peanut butter a little too prominent, while the spices took a backseat that I'd like to alter in my next attempt. By reducing both the portion size and amount of peanut butter in the yogurt dressing, and serving it on a thin cracker or even crepe instead of the matzah that I had (it was Passover, what can I say?), it will be a perfect blend of light and filling. The ratios below reflect my vision of the cleaned-up version, but feel free to head to Deb's post if you're interested in the original.

Crushed Peas 'n Carrots in a Smoky Yogurt Dressing, adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 3-4 main servings
(printable recipe)

The Ingredients
1 1/2 cups frozen peas and carrots, thawed
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons nut or seed butter*
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika**
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

The Method
Place the peas and carrots in a medium-large bowl and gently and carefully crush them,*** leaving a portion of them whole to create a mixture of textures. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together the nut/seed butter, yogurt, lemon juice, water, cumin, paprika,, salt, and garlic powder. Slowly mix the dressing into the peas and carrot blend, starting with 2-3 tablespoons and adding more to taste. Serve with toasted pita, flat bread, or snack crackers.

*Tahini was originally called for, but I never keep any in stock so I used regular peanut butter instead. Sunbutter would also be delicious.
**If you don't have smoked paprika, regular will work fine. It's what I used, and while it may have resulted in less depth of flavor, it was still good.
***The instructions suggest using a potato masher or meat pounder; I simply used the back of a fork.

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