Apr 2, 2009

Berry Soda

Lest you think I've been completely virtuous (after that last post about getting cookbooks at the library), I have to confess to one new purchase...Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen.

Bryant Terry is one of the chefs that was included in the Green Kitchen online video site I posted about recently. Though Terry resides in Oakland now, his childhood in Memphis inspired his interest in cooking, farming and community health.

His newest book, Vegan Soul Kitchen, feeds your soul with Southern comfort food but without the guilt you usually associate with it. I love that. There are lots of traditional Southern staples here but with new flavors, many with a tropical flair.

Recipes I've marked to try include:
• watermelon with fresh basil sea salt
• watermelon-strawberry slushee
• rocket salad with watermelon-basil vinaigrette
• sweet, sour, spicy blackberry limeade
• roasted plaintains with roasted garlic-lime dipping sauce
• black-eyed peas with sun-dried tomatoes and kombu
• sautéed jalapeño corn
• sweet coconut-ginger creamed corn
• wilted spinach and swiss chard with tahini dressing
• coconut grits with roasted plaintains
• quinoa cornbread

The first recipe I tried from his book is for strawberry soda. As strawberries start popping up, this is a refreshing way to enjoy their sweet flavor. The recipe calls for mineral water to make it bubbly, but we found the mineraly-ness interfered a little too much with the strawberries, so try club soda. Also, how much agave nectar you need will depend on your strawberries. Taste your nectar after blending and decide if you want more.

Strawberry Soda

1 pint fresh, ripe strawberries, rinsed and leaves removed
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 cups club soda

Combine the strawberries and agave nectar in a blender (or use an immersion blender) and purée until smooth.

Strain through a piece of cheesecloth set in a sieve to remove the seeds. (I tried it in a fine mesh sieve and the seeds still made it through, so go the extra mile and use cheesecloth.)

Pour the berry nectar into a pitcher and slowly add the club soda. You can tilt the pitcher as you pour in the soda to minimize the foam. Gently stir together to combine. Serve immediately over ice.

Serves 2.

Adapted from Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry.

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