If you follow us on Instagram you know we recently got home from a visit to New Orleans that I can confidently describe as being both lovely and delicious. Which is not really a shock. I mean if I were to ask you off the top of your head to think of two words to describe New Orleans – those two words might be the first ones that come to mind. It’s a city famous for it’s charming homes and cobblestone streets as well as it’s signature cuisine.
If you watch a lot of cop shows on CBS – you might also know it as the headquarters of NCIS: New Orleans – the new crime drama our good friend Rob Kerkovich* is now appearing in as the nerd-tastic forensic scientist Sebastian Lund! We went down there to visit Rob and his lovely Anjali** and they were our guides to all the vegan spots NOLA has to offer these days. We had wonderful eggplant po’boys, pad thai, fresh juice cocktails*** and beighnets at SEED. We had a roasted eggplant & cashew fritatta and a tempeh muffuletta sandwich at a brunchy spot called Breads on Oak*** and had some incredible sausages with the works and some sweet potato fries at a spot called Dat Dog.
But one of the highlights of our trip was a falafel spot in Mid City called 1000 Figs. They put roasted Brussels Sprouts on falafel there. Just reread that sentence and let that sink in. So easy. So simple. So obviously brilliant. I could kick myself for not thinking of it.
They also reintroduced me to a long lost love… Toum.
If you don’t know toum, it’s a garlic sauce a lot like an aioli that is made with fresh garlic, lemon juice, a vegetable oil like grape seed and some salt that is very popular throughout the Middle East. Some places add stuff like yogurt or eggs to it but most don’t so it’s a condiment/spread that is usually already vegan!
I used to buy bottles of it from a fancy grocers in Pike Place Market when I lived in Seattle but then sadly one day noticed that they had changed the recipe to include some goat milk something that made it smell just terrible and ya know – not vegan. So I walked away from toum years ago and learned to love again. Then there it was in a little metal dish with our fries at 1000 Figs!
We returned home with a promise in our hearts to bring toum back into our lives…
Toum is such an easy recipe that when I searched for recipes to see what others had done before me – well I found basically the same recipe reprinted on numerous sites over and over with no real crediting. I think this is where that reprinted recipe originated. Our recipe tweeks Ms. Han’s recipe just the tiniest bit but I really want to be clear that this is not an original recipe. As many of you know we never post other people’s recipes on our site unless it is part of a review of a book because on the internet many people are prone to scan a post rather than read it and we don’t want to be credited for another person’s work. So I debated even posting this but it’s such a great recipe – I couldn’t help myself – I had to share!
Lebanese Garlic Sauce also known as Toum
(A tiny bit tweaked version of Emily Han’s Recipe)
3 bulbs of garlic, should measure about 3/4 of a cup
1 teaspoon crushed sea salt, you may need more
3 cups grapeseed or other vegetable oil
Juice from 1 lemon, should measure about 1/3 cup
Peel and trim off hard or discolored parts of your garlic. Be sure to remove any green sprouts.
In your food processor, puree your garlic and salt until you get a light smooth paste. Use a rubber tipped spatula to scrap the sides of your food processor so you get all the little bits. While your food processor is running, add 1/2 of your oil slowly and then your lemon juice. Then add the remaining oil. You should have a sauce that looks a lot like mayonnaise but smells like all the garlic in the world exploded in your kitchen to make your food amazing!
Give it a taste test and add any needed salt. Then put in an air tight container and put it in the fridge to cool and thicken a bit.
You can use your toum in a bunch of ways! You can just use it as a dipping sauce for fries, pita chips or veggies. You can spread a little on a veggie burger or other mock meat and then bake it to make a savory garlicky sandwich or kebab. You can put it on falafel like they do at 1000 Figs or add it to a hummus or baba ghanoush to give it more of a kick. Really the world is your garlicky oyster mushroom when you have a pot of toum in your fridge.
Just be sure to keep this strong stuff stored in air tight container so it doesn’t contaminate your other fridge items and to toss it after 3 weeks. Sorry. Nothing lasts forever.
* You all probably remember Rob from his roles in previous Meet The Shannons adventures such as Kale & Kalamata Olive Tapenade and An Informal Letter to A Vegan Stuffed Crust Mexican Pizza.
** You might recall Anajli Prasertong from her roles as Farmer’s Market Guide in the before mentioned Kale & Kalamata Olive Tapenade and as Betty Crocker Recipe Card Gifter in Green Tequila Enchiladas.
*** Anjali and I are both new moms and had the same “OH?!” response to those cocktails you might imagine.
**** Big Thank You goes out to our friend Matt Prescott for that suggestion!