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Tag Archive: eggplant

Baba Ghanoush

January 5, 2014 Print this page

All of the flavors of hummus, utilizing the wonderfulness of the eggplant. Serve as a dip with carrots and celery, a condiment with grilled meats (like Pesto-Marinated Lamb), or on its own, with a spoon. It’s that good.

Ingredients

Prep Time 20 min
Cooking Time 20 min
Total Time 40 min
Yield 4 servings as a side dish, 6 as a dip or condiment

2 large eggplants (about 2 lb)

1/3 cup of tahini

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 teaspoons of cumin

The juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon of salt

Directions

With a small knife or a fork, make a bunch of small incisions in each eggplant.

Heat up a large non-stick pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat–dry. When the pan is hot, add the eggplants. Press them down slightly, then step away for five minutes. Don’t prod–just leave them be.

When that side is dark brown and flattened, rotate the eggplant 90 degrees and do the same with the next side. Do this with every side of the eggplant until the entire skin is nearly black in color and the eggplant is squishy when you press down on it, about 20 minutes.

Once cooked to perfection, transfer the eggplant to a separate plate and split each open to let some of the steam escape. Set aside for at least 15 minutes, or until warm to the touch.

When your eggplant is cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and discard it. Put the remaining eggplant flesh in the bowl of a food processor with the tahini, olive oil, cumin, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Pulse until homogeneous, about 1 minute, then taste and add more salt/oil/cumin, if necessary.


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Opa! Baba Ghanoush and Greek Salad

January 5, 2014 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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I love to travel. One day–when I’m old enough or take over the world, whichever comes first–I want to traverse the globe. I want to visit a volcano in Iceland. Yodel from the top of the Alps in Switzerland. Take a stupid picture with the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. Ride a camel in Egypt. Float in the Dead Sea. Stand on an island in the Maldives before they’re below sea level. Visit a Turkish market in Istanbul (NOT Constantinople). Buy a lifetime supply of Hello Kitty accessories in Taiwan. Throw a handful of black sand in Indonesia. Hold a koala in Australia (even though they’re supposedly mean–and stinky). Heck, I’d even like to play with Emperor penguins in Antarctica.

One of the top places on my list is Greece. While I can’t understand the language very well, I’d love to visit the ruins and take a boat around the islands in the Aegean sea. The food also sounds marvelous: delicious olives, marinated and grilled meats, and best of all…baklava. Too bad there isn’t really a “paleo” substitute to filo dough…sigh.

In the meantime, while I wait for my opportunity to visit, I have made two Greek-inspired dishes: Greek Salad and Baba Ghanoush. No, neither are perfectly authentic, but they feature ingredients that are common in Grecian cooking, specifically feta cheese, cucumbers, tahini, eggplant, and olive oil. Especially in the dead of winter (it dropped below zero where I live yesterday), these dishes are a welcomed escape.

I served both with a variation of my Pesto-Marinated Lamb, but you can serve these two equally as well on their own for a vegetarian meal. Yummy!

First, let’s start off with the baba ghanoush. You’re going to need 2 eggplants–big ones. I didn’t weigh mine, but I figure I had somewhere around two pounds. Make sure they’re solid and have no soft spots.

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With a small knife or a fork, make a bunch of small incisions in each eggplant. This will help some of the water escape during cooking and prevent you from having goopy eggplants.

Heat up a large non-stick pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat–dry. Your goal is to char the eggplant skin; you aren’t going to be eating it, anyway, so you don’t need to worry about adding any fat to make it more appealing. When the pan is hot, add the eggplants. Press them down slightly, then step away for five minutes. Don’t prod–just leave them be.

When that side is dark brown and flattened, rotate the eggplant 90 degrees and do the same with the next side. Do this with every side of the eggplant until the entire skin is nearly black in color and the eggplant is squishy when you press down on it, about 20 minutes.

Once cooked to perfection, transfer the eggplant to a separate plate and split each open to let some of the steam escape. Set aside for at least 15 minutes, or until warm to the touch. You don’t want to burn yourself!

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When your eggplant is cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and discard it. Put the remaining eggplant flesh in the bowl of a food processor with 1/3 cup of tahini, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of cumin, the juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup), 2 cloves of garlic, crushed, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Pulse until homogeneous, about 1 minute, then taste and add more salt/oil/cumin, if necessary.

That’s it! All you have to do is scoop it up and eat it. I’d highly recommend sliced carrots and celery sticks to accompany this baba ghanoush if you’re eating it for a snack or serving it as a starter. Otherwise, it tastes great with grilled meats!

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Up next is the Greek salad. I adapted my recipe from Ina Garten’s–I added more veggies (yay!) and decreased the amount of dressing and cheese to make it a little lighter to better compliment the rest of the meal. If you’re serving this salad on its own, feel free to add a little more oil and/or feta to make it a bit heartier. (You can also add some grilled chicken, fish, or hard boiled eggs–all three would be tasty, too!)

This recipe is super easy. There’s no cooking involved, either, making it perfect for those nights when you want something a little exotic without a ton of effort.

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Put 3 heads of chopped romaine lettuce in a large bowl. Add 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved, 1 large seeded, peeled, and chopped cucumber, and 1 diced red bell pepper, then toss to combine. You can also add 1/2 of a sliced red onion, but I didn’t, because raw onions and I don’t exactly get along. (In short, while I do like onions, I don’t want to be tasting them three hours after my meal.)

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Once combined, pour over the salad and toss it really well–all of the leaves should be coated to perfection. Let sit for at least fifteen minutes to let all of the flavors meld.

Just before serving, add in 3 ounces of crumbled feta cheese, 1/3 cup of diced calamata olives, and 1 tablespoon of dried oregano. Toss again to incorporate. If you don’t eat dairy and/or are vegan, leave out the cheese; if you don’t like olives, leave those out, too. It’s very adaptable: just add what you’d like!

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This was such a delicious meal. I highly, highly recommend you make it!

Have you ever been to Greece? If so, how was it? If not, where in the world would you like to travel to? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!


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Middle-Eastern Eggplant

December 21, 2013 Print this page

Think there’s only Baba Ghanoush east of the Aegean? Think again! This Middle-Eastern Eggplant will wow your taste buds with vibrant pomegranate seeds, spicy fresh parsley, and sauteed pepper. An excellent compliment to Pesto Marinated Lamb.

Ingredients

Prep Time 10 min
Cooking Time 30 min
Total Time 40 min
Yield 4 servings

2 eggplants

1 tablespoon of coconut oil

1 medium red onion, sliced

1 large bell pepper, sliced

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1/4 cup of walnuts, chopped

The juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup of olive oil

3 tablespoons of pomegranate seeds

1/3 cup roughly chopped parsley

A big pinch of paprika

A big pinch of cumin

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat a large skillet dry over medium-high heat until smoke begins to rise, about 4 to 5 minutes. Place the eggplants in the pan and char on all sides, flipping every few minutes to get an even blackness on each side. This will take about 20 minutes.

Remove the eggplant and heat the coconut oil in the same skillet until sizzling, about 2 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and saute until tender, about 10 minutes.

Once cooked, transfer the veggies to a big bowl. Peel off the eggplant’s charred skin (you can throw it out or eat it if you’re really weird like me) and chop the remaining eggplant into 1/2-inch chunks. Dump into the bowl with the veggies and stir to toss.

To the bowl, add the walnuts, lemon juice, olive oil, pomegranate seeds, parsley, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir, taste, and add more seasoning, if necessary.

Serve at room temperature with Pesto Marinated Lamb.


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Ratatouille (Ratatouille Style)

October 26, 2013 , Print this page

What I make to satisfy my need to eat ratatouille after watching Ratatouille for the ten thousandth time in French class.

Ingredients

Prep Time 35 min
Cooking Time 50 min
Total Time 1 hr 30 min
Yield 3 servings as a main dish or 4 servings as a side dish

2 small eggplants (any variety)

Salt

2 medium zucchini

2 large bell peppers

14 ounces of tomato paste or plain tomato sauce (about 1 medium can)

2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

A generous pinch of salt

2 teaspoons of dried thyme

2 teaspoons of dried basil

2 teaspoons of oregano

A good crack of black pepper

Good soft cheese (optional)

Directions

At least a half an hour before you want to bake your ratatouille, slice the eggplants into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch rounds.

Liberally salt the eggplant rounds and let them sit on a baking sheet or cutting board until assembly time, at least 30 minutes. This is to help some of the water get out and make your eggplant tender, not mushy and gushy.

Next, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the zucchini into 1/4-inch rounds and the bell peppers into 1/4-inch rings.

Set the sliced veggies aside. On the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish, mix together the tomato paste or tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, onion, garlic, and the generous pinch of salt. With the back of a spoon or a small spatula, spread it out so the bottom is completely coated.

To assemble, put one piece of eggplant with two or three slices of zucchini and a slice of pepper. Keep going until you run out of space or vegetables…whichever comes first.

Sprinkle the top with the dried thyme, basil, and oregano, a black pepper, and an additional tablespoon of olive oil.

Cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit snugly atop the dish. Stick the ratatouille in the oven until the veggies are tender and beginning to curl around the edges, about 45 to 50 minutes.

If you don’t want cheese, you can stop here. If you’re opting for the dairy, top the ratatouille with your desired amount of cheese (for me, about 10 tiny squares cut from two slices worth) and broil until completely melted, about 5 minutes.

Serve immediately with a large fork and a hungry belly.


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Mon Grand Voyage (and a Spin on Ratatouille!)

June 28, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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One thing a lot of people don’t know about me (in the blogosphere, at least) is that I LOVE France. When I first went when I was 11, well, je suis tombée en amoureuse. I usually dislike big cities, but there was something about Paris’s narrow streets and petits marchés that made me think otherwise. I’ve been back twice since then, and every time I leave, I find myself wanting to return.

I’ve taken French in school since the second half of third grade, but I’m nowhere near fluent. I can write pretty well, but when confronted with an actual human being, I clam up! I always worry I’m going to say the wrong thing and wind up completely insulting whoever I’m speaking to.

I’m tired of being afraid and want to be able to have a real conversation in French. So…I’m going to France for a month to get brave and learn! This time, I’ll be going to a suburb of Nice called St. Laurent-du-Var, where I’ll be graciously hosted by my homestay mother. I’m really excited and extremely nervous, too!

One thing I’m looking forward to is the food. I’ve had plenty of Parisian fare—duck confit, chocolate mousse, and the like—but I want to taste what else is out there. Since it’ll be July, fresh fruits and vegetables should be plentiful; hopefully I’ll get a chance to visit one or seven marchés en plein air and eat so many tomates cerises I’ll become one. I also foresee mountains of olives in my future, as well as whatever else I may be able to sample.

For the duration of my trip, I WILL NOT be eating squeaky clean by any stretch of the imagination. I may look into doing a Whole30 challenge or something akin to it when I return, but while in France, I’m going to enjoy myself. No, I’m not going to eat a massive croissant at every meal, but I’ll certainly try to have a little taste of a variety of different breads, pastries, and dairy products.

Fortunately, I won’t have to leave the extension of my heart my laptop at home, so I’ll be able to take lots of pictures and update you guys on what I’m up to. Hey, maybe I’ll post a recipe or two, too!

In anticipation for my upcoming voyage, I made ratatouille, probably the tastiest mixed vegetable dish of all time.

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I’ve been in French classes for over SIX years now, and the only movie I’ve ever watched is Ratatouille. At this point, I’ve probably seen it at least four or five times in French and six or seven times in English. And every time after I watch the movie, I want that idealized plate of vegetable goodness Disney so perfectly displays.

To make this dish a little more satiating, I melted a bit of raw Dorset cheese on the top. Don’t call the paleo police! If you’re lactose intolerant and/or avoiding dairy, feel free to take out the cheese…but if you can eat it, I highly recommend adding it for extra tang and creaminess.

This recipe is a breeze to make. All you need are some veggies, olive oil, a couple of dried herbs, and a big baking dish. If you’re sick of eating meat for dinner, this is a great way to work something vegetarian into the mix!

My recipe is adapted from this one.

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At least a half an hour before you want to bake your ratatouille, slice two small eggplants into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch rounds. Use whatever you can find, whether it be graffiti, Japanese, or globe.

Liberally salt the eggplant rounds and let them sit on a baking sheet or cutting board until assembly time, at least 30 minutes. This is to help some of the water get out and make your eggplant tender, not mushy and gushy.

Next, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut two medium-sized zucchini into 1/4-inch rounds and two large bell peppers into 1/4-inch rings. Maybe it’s just me, but I always eat the ends of the peppers after I slice them.

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Set the sliced veggies aside. On the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish, mix together 14 ounces of tomato paste or plain tomato sauce (about 1 medium can), 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 chopped small onion, 2 thinly sliced cloves of garlic, and a generous pinch of salt. With the back of a spoon or a small spatula, spread it out so the bottom is completely coated.

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To assemble, put one piece of eggplant with two or three slices of zucchini and a slice of pepper. Keep going until you run out of space or vegetables…whichever comes first.

Sprinkle the top with 2 teaspoons each of dried thyme, basil, and oregano, a good crack of black pepper, and an additional tablespoon of olive oil.

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Cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit snugly atop the dish. Stick the ratatouille in the oven until the veggies are tender and beginning to curl around the edges, about 45 to 50 minutes.

If you don’t want cheese, you can stop here. If you’re opting for the dairy, top the ratatouille with your desired amount of cheese (for me, about 10 tiny squares cut from two slices worth) and broil until completely melted, about 5 minutes.

Serve immediately with a large fork and a hungry belly.

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Next time, I’ll make more…since we had no leftovers. Oh well, at least it was tasty!

What’s your favorite French dish? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!


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