Monday, July 12, 2010

White Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Vegetable Wraps with Spinach. (Oh, and a Little About TV.)

Today on Serious Eats, Marinated Mushroom Salad, another fine entry in our No-Cook pantheon of goodness.

As a break from talking about A) how hot it is, B) how much we’re perspiring, and C) how it’s currently possible to cook tuna on the streets of NYC, I’m going to talk about D) television. Yay!

(This isn’t meant to detract from today’s recipe – a stunningly easy, very tasty no-cook red pepper and white bean wrap. I’m just feeling punchy.)

I tend not to watch a lot of TV, but it’s a good time when the mood strikes. Since we don’t get cable, we rent Netflix DVDs and take in a few episodes of one show in a single evening. It’s kind of like watching a really long, really good movie over a few nights. It’s how we discovered both Friday Night Lights and Mad Men, which we now quote constantly, to the detriment of actual original language.

Anyway, for kicks, I thought I’d compile my top ten single TV episodes, ever. In history. Of America. Readers, do you agree with any of them? What are your favorites? The comment section is wide open. I think this’ll be a good one.

(Needless to say, there are spoilers ahead. Read with caution. Oh, and try the wraps. They’re good.)

1) The Sopranos – “Long Term Parking”
I am of the opinion that this is the greatest hour of television ever made, and it’s 99% due to Drea de Matteo’s performance as Adriana La Cerva, the FBI-informant girlfriend of gangster Christopher Moltisanti. (She won an Emmy for her troubles.) There’s one scene in which she appears to be escaping from certain death, only it turns out to be a dream, and I think I stopped breathing for about 20 minutes. Sopranos fans, you know what I’m talking about.

2) Six Feet Under – “Finale”
You know how super solid shows seem to mess up their series finales? (See: Seinfeld, The Sopranos, etc.) Totally not the case with SFU. They wrapped it with a pitch-perfect montage that echoed a major plot device within the show, and made me openly weep for about four days straight.

3) Roseanne – “War and Peace”
Sullen, smart, and just trying to navigate adolescence, Darlene Conner was my hero growing up. This episode, she bails her father out of jail after he decks her aunt’s abusive boyfriend. Sara Gilbert kills it. (Other Roseanne contenders: “A Stash From the Past” and the one where Jackie and Roseanne’s dad dies, if only for this scene. Man, Laurie Metcalf is the best.)

4) The Office – “Casino Night”
Yeah, there’s the whole PB&J scene at the end, which catapults this season finale into the canon. But it’s what comes before that makes this Season 2 episode truly outstanding. Every character, from Creed to Bob Vance, have wonderful scenes. Steve Carell/Michael Scott anchors the whole shebang with the funniest imagined love triangle, evah.

5) Friday Night Lights – “The Son”
Why isn’t anyone watching this show? EVERYONE should be watching this show, if only to see Zach Gilford’s portrayal of Matt Saracen, the put-upon second-string quarterback who deals with indignity after indignity with the patience of Job. Here, Matt confronts the death of his dad with heartbreaking confusion and characteristic sacrifice.

6 & 7) The Simpsons – “HOMR”/”Treehouse of Horror IV”
Man, it’s so hard to pick just one. So here are two. The first is largely about the relationship between Lisa and Homer, which always guarantees a good plot. The second is, IMHO, the best of the show’s Halloween episodes, not least because of the hilarious Dracula parody. (“Oh, Lisa! You and your stories! ‘Dad, Bart is a vampire.’ ‘Beer kills brain cells.’ Now, let's get back to that... building thingy... where our beds and T.V... is.”

8) Friends – “The One With the Embryos”
While the first three seasons produced some classic television, Friends really started firing on all cylinders in Season 4. Phoebe was still a sweetheart, Ross had not yet become a shrill drip, and even Monica had moments of hilarity. This episode, in which the girls engage the boys in an all-out trivia war, is the best of the whole series. Miss Chanandler Bong agrees.

9) The Wire – “Misgivings”
A shockingly violent act committed by Chris and Snoop (the scariest henchman and henchwoman in all of television) binds Michael forever to Marlo’s organization. Really, all of Season 4 is exemplary TV, but few include such an obvious turning point for one of the major characters. Horrifying and riveting.

10) Mad Men – “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency”
Aesthetically, it’s easy to like Mad Men. The people, clothing, and sets are all meticulously gorgeous. Emotionally, it takes a little longer to engage. I wasn’t fully in until this episode of Season 3, in which a dippy secretary runs over a bigwig’s foot with a lawnmower at the office. High stakes, personal connections, and hilarious dialogue make it the best in the series.

Community – Paintball episode
Undeclared – the one with the dolphin noises
Planet Earth – the one where the shark eats the seal in one bite

Readers, what about you?


If you would like this recipe in your stomach, you might also quite enjoy ingesting:

White Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Vegetable Wraps with Spinach
Serves 6.
Adapted from Supermarket Vegan.

1 (15-ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 (7-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained thoroughly
1 or 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium-large clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 8-to-10 inch flour tortillas
A few handfuls baby spinach

1) Combine beans, peppers, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Puree.

2) Divide the mixture amongst the tortillas (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup each). Spread, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges of each one. Add a few spinach leaves to each.

3) Roll ‘em up.

4) Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Serve cold.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price Per Serving
218 calories, 5.5 g fat, 4.8 g fiber, 8.7 g protein, $0.76

Note: My (Tropical brand) tortillas come in at only 100 calories each. Your calculations may vary, depending on your wraps.

1 (15-ounce) can white beans: 536 calories, 1.4 g fat, 22 g fiber, 33.3 g protein $0.89
1 (7-ounce) jar roasted red peppers: 35 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein, $1.39
1 or 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice: 6 calories, 0 g fat, 0.1 g fiber, 0.1 g protein, $0.50
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil: 119 calories, 13.5 g fat, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein, $0.12
1 medium-large clove garlic: 4 calories, 0 g fat, 0.1 g fiber, 0.2 g protein, $0.05
1/2 teaspoon salt: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein, $0.01
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein, $0.01
6 8-to-10 inch flour tortillas: 600 calories, 18 g fat, 6 g fiber, 18 g protein, $1.07
A few handfuls baby spinach: 6 calories, 0 g fat, 0.7 g fiber, 0.3 g protein, $0.50
TOTAL: 1306 calories, 32.9 g fat, 28.9 g fiber, 51.9 g protein, $4.54
PER SERVING: 218 calories, 5.5 g fat, 4.8 g fiber, 8.7 g protein, $0.76

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Matt M. said...

Those wraps sound really good. I'll have to try them soon! I've been looking for some ways to work in some more leafy green vegetables.

Joy said...

Kris: I think you and I probably have similar taste in TV, and while I agree with your picks, I'm surprised there's not one thing on this list from The Wire aka The Best TV Series EVER. Also missing: Freaks and Geeks! If you liked Undeclared, you must love Freaks and Geeks.

Julie said...

The West Wing, "Two Cathedrals" should be on the list.

Not sure about the wraps, though.


Bandida said...

1. Love the list. Love the recipe. Love your blog.

2. Can I comment on a comment? Joy should re-read the list, especially #9.

Juno said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Annie Jones said...

I agree with you about Six Feet Under.

Also on my list, although it's a little older, is the episode of MASH where Lt. Col. Blake has been discharged, only to die in a helicopter crash on his way home. Very touching, even after all these years.

Juno said...

I get weepy every time I watch Jensen Ackles act his little heart out in Supernatural's "What Is and What Should Never Be"; Buffy's no-dialogue ep "Hush" and the Office opening where Dwight sets a fire to test everyone's emergency preparedness = 3 minutes of mayhem. And it's cooled down enough in Vancouver today to barbercue! Woot!

Robyn 'My Middle Name Is Awesome' said...

Undeclared rocked! I think, hands down that was one of the best shows on TV, can't figure out why it only lasted 1 season.

CAN NOT WAIT to try these wraps!! Thanks for the recipe!

Lyssachelle said...

LOVE your TV episode picks. (And this blog in general.)

I also second West Wing's Two Cathedrals...

Can I offer up Buffy's "The Body" where her mom dies, the Grey's Anatomy episode where they not ONLY kill Denny but also Doc the dog (I almost had to take a personal day the next day....) and the Family Ties episode where Alex goes to the therapist after his friend dies?

And can I also just say that your Vegan Jasmine Rice Pudding has changed my life? Changed. My. Life.

Claire Dawson said...

Oh, man. That is clearly the best episode of Friends ever. So excellent.

I second the Buffy episode "Hush." The Buffy musical is also completely excellent.

And, to be a complete dork, the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Captain Picard is captured by the Cardassians is pretty much awesome.

Christina and Brian said...

Kris: The Roseanne episode "A Stash From The Past" is the basis of my entire marriage. I quoted "It's just me and my ganja" on a blog, my (now) husband read it and fell madly in love with me and we we just got married last month. Also, I'm totally with you on Six Feet Under. I can't even watch that without sobbing.

Kris said...

@Joy: I love The Wire! Check #9. And I totally agree that Freaks and Geeks was wonderful. I think Undeclared just hit TV at the right time for me, which is why I prefer it a touch over F&G.

@Julie: Is that the one where Bartlet reveals his MS?

@All you Buffy fans: Though I've only seen a few eps, I'm wondering if I should finally break down and give the whole thing a shot. I've heard the best three are "Hush," "The Body," and "Once More With Feeling." Do you guys suggest starting with one of them, or taking it from the beginning of the series?

@Bandida: Thank you! So glad you're reading!

@Juno: I think that might have been the best cold open of the whole Series, maybe excepting the cheese puff one and Dwight receiving a fax from Future Dwight. (Wait - was it a cold open? I forget.)

@Annie Jones: I read recently that MASH took a darker turn after that episode. Do you think that's true? Good call, either way.

@Robyn: ME NEITHER. Damn FOX.

@Lyssachelle: Excellent! Leigh will be super excited to hear that about the pudding.

@Christina: That is AWESOME, and congratulations! Ignoring the last two seasons, Roseanne is still the greatest comedy of all time (sorry, "Office"), not least because Laurie Metcalf totally rules. ("Is this the sink? Am I shrinking?")

amanda said...

I very much concur with the finale of Six Feet Under. Honest to goodness tears over that one - and I saw it on Bravo after it was all said and done.

Re: Buffy. Oh my goodness. My favorite series of all time. And yes, Hush, The Body, and Once More With Feeling are the three stand-outs of an excellent show. Hush (s4) has little to no dialogue but superb music and extra-creepy bad guys. The Body (s5) is the opposite: no score at all, which doesn't seem unusual until you watch it and halfway through realize there's something just different about it. Once More With Feeling is also about sound, being a musical. It's positively brilliant. I listen to songs from the soundtrack every single day. Can you watch them on their own? Sure, yeah, I guess mostly. Hush would probably be the best stand-alone of the three as there's less of the overall story arc involved. The Body I think would be the least watchable by itself. OMWF is entertaining all by itself for sure, but the songs will be so much funnier and more meaningful if you know what led up to them. You could follow it though, I think, if you want to give it a shot.
One more note about watching Buffy all the way through: seasons 4-7 ran concurrent with seasons 1-4 of Angel, and there was some crossing over. It's easier to watch Buffy without Angel than the reverse, I think, but you will still miss some things if you haven't seen the other side of the same story.
Well gee, you can't guess I'm a fan, can ya? I now return you to your regular programming. Don't mind me. :)

Juno said...

@ Kris re Buffy: I'd recommend watching from the beginning (1st season is only 12 eps), as IMO S2 and S3 are the show's strongest. "Once More, With Feeling" is great but there's so much going on I wouldn't recommend it to start. So, short answer, start with season 2!

Elizabeth said...

While we have different tastes for TV so I don't watch the majority of the shows you mentioned, I have to recommend you check out The Big Bang Theory. Laurie Metcalf has a recurring guest role as the conservative Texas mother of a super-smart (possibly has Ausperger's), super-anal-retentive physicist. It's one of my favorite shows, and has a couple other actors from Roseanne. Methinks you'll enjoy it.

Oh, and about the wraps. This would also be good with some sun-dried tomato and avocado added for oomph as a full meal.

Elly said...

I love love love that Friends episode. It's also my favorite. Just thinking "Chanandler Bong" to myself still makes me laugh.

Buffy is my favorite show ever, so I highly recommend it. Do you have Netflix? If so, it's streaming all the season. And Angel. And you should also watch Firefly. Only 13 episodes (because Fox sucks), but amazing.

LH said...

Science fiction is the cilantro of television -- there are some who think it tastes like soap, and others who can't get enough.

I'd like to put in a little love for Battlestar Galactica. Kobol's Last Gleaming , the season one finale was a stellar (pun intended) episode though I think you really needed to see the entire season to appreciate it. It's an opera in itself, with life, death, sex, religion, cheap laughs and a great score.

Trials and Tribble-lations, of Deep Space Nine is a love letter to trek fandom and is technically brilliant (the editing and the production design).

Farscape has some real clunker episodes but they almost never played it safe or conventional, and I do respect that.

Sancia said...

simple and delicious, oh and perfect for lunch :)

doubleindemnity said...

I've been following your blog for a little while now but if I could, I would like to give you a mental high five for the shout outs to Roseanne (#3!), Mad Men and Community. Thanks for the awesome recipes and awesome tv references!

J said...

We def share some TV loves ;) I still watch Roseanne episodes

MS said...

I agree with whoever said Buffy's "Hush" episode. I also think the musical episode was one of the best ever. I was a Buffy fan back in the day. As for FNL, I got to watch parts of "The Son" before it aired because I know the guy who played the funeral director (saw his scenes at a party). I tried to get in good with his wife in the off chance they host a cast party at their house, so my girlfriends and I can be invited (obvs) and feel up, I mean, chat with Riggins. And Saracen. The only one we haven't seen about town (I live in Austin).

MS said...

Oh, I forgot to mention another episode I loved: Freaks & Geeks, the final episode, where the geeks play D&D with one of the major stoner guys. It's awesome.

Sarah said...

Veronica Mars, Season 2, "Donut Run". Blew my mind, and still does when I watch it over again. Based on your television preferences, if you haven't watched Veronica Mars yet, you NEED to Netflix that.

Always A Lady said...

My husband can't stop talking about these wraps. We added a little turkey and they taste so good! Even though I made a double recipe we're running low only halfway through the week!

Basil said...

I love roasted bell peppers! These wraps are great- I made them for lunch today, and they were a hit. Great for a summer's day when it's a hundred degrees outside. And easy to make, too!