Stoner revenge? Perhaps. But it turns out the humble (and legal) seed of the plant cannabis sativa packs a heap of nutritional, environmental and potentially planet-sustaining power. As I learned last week from nutritionist Ashley Koff, a 10-year registered dietician who counsels celebrity health gurus Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Oz, hemp is the only single plant source with all the essential amino acids and fatty acids in perfectly digestible form.
Lucky for us, with a little help, hemp can actually taste delicious. During my class entitled Mom Energy, (the title of Koff’s and fitness guru Kathy Kaehler’s informative new book}, I demonstrated this lovely salad, willowy and hearty all in one. The hemp seeds are blended almost without a trace into a creamy Parmesan dressing that you will want to slather on everything from crudités to grilled fish. Shave the vegetables paper-thin on a V-slicer or mandolin (add raw zucchini, cherry tomatoes, or white beans if you’re in the mood) for an elegant take on hippie haute cuisine.
If you’re like me, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be finding more excuses to add hemp seeds to your day — in smoothies, granola, blended soups, hummus, pesto, and even homemade ice cream. When you’re this virtuous, you might even find yourself feeling a little buzzed.
Creamy Parmesan-Hemp Dressing
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup sour cream, preferably low-fat and organic
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 generous tablespoon hemp seeds
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces raw green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1-1/4 cups)
1 large bunch of arugula (6 cups), washed and dried well
1 small fennel bulb, cored, leaves removed, and very thinly sliced (on a mandoline if available)
6 radishes, trimmed and shaved thinly or cut into wedges
1. Prepare the Creamy Parmesan-Hemp Dressing: In a blender, combine the Parmesan, sour cream, vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, hemp seeds, and salt and pepper. Blend well, slowly pouring in the oil through the top until creamy and smooth.
2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the green beans until they are tender; transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water to cool down, then drain and dry on kitchen towels.
3. In a large bowl, toss the arugula, fennel, radishes and blanched green beans with the dressing (or serve a small bowl of dressing on the side).
Note: If the radishes are beginning to wilt, soak them in ice water for 10 minutes to crisp them back up.
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Photo credit: realsimple.com