Tag Archives: eggplant

Middle eastern dip trio

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One of my errands last Friday (in addition to rummaging around the thrift store) was to the Persian grocery store. I don’t go to this place too often (it’s just a little bit out of the way, and only really useful to us for a few specialty items), so every time I go I seem to get sucked into wandering around staring at things. The store basically has: a huge selection of bread (pita, lavash, and the like), a huge selection of bagged teas, a huge selection of faux-British cookies (chocolate digestive biscuits, etc., but with Arabic text on the wrappers), an awful lot of olive and grapeseed oils. Filling out the offerings are things like pomegranate molasses (multiple varieties, natch), dried beans, yogurt and kefir, and, of course, tahini:

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This 4lb jar is actually not the largest size on offer, there is an 8lb iteration as well. I go back and forth as to whether or not it’s worth the extra savings to size up but keep going with the 4lb jar. Something about buying 8lbs of tahini for a two-person household just seems like it would be crossing a line. Still, even at 4 lbs, buying in bulk is definitely worth it: this jar is $17, or $4.25/lb. It’s been a while since I shelled out for a 1lb jar of tahini at Whole Foods or the health food store, but I’m pretty sure they cost at least $6 or $7. Bulk purchasing for the win, again.

So what am I going to actually do with all that tahini I hauled home? I have lots of uses for it, but a favorite means of disposal is in hummus, or blended with eggplant to make baba ghanoush:

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Saturday evening we had a party to go to, and I put together this little dip trio to bring, along with a plate of raw veggies for dipping. I’ve been trotting variations of this dip platter out for quite some time, check out this vintage 2009 batch (with toasted pita wedges, also yum) as proof of its enduring nature:

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Really, I’m still amazed at how impressive people find a nicely arranged platter of something really, really, almost embarrassingly easy to make.

While hummus and baba ghanoush are traditionally served as dips or spreads, I find they also make a great dressing for salad or even (in the case of hummus especially) roasted vegetables like peppers or zucchini. Just thin out with a little water or extra lemon juice.

And, it should go without saying, but just because all three of these recipes are presented in one post, doesn’t mean you have to make them all at once. But if you’re going to a party, you really should.

Hummus times two, plus baba ghanoush

Ingredients
For plain hummus
2 c. cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 c. tahini
1/4 c. olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
2-4 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt

For red pepper variation
same ingredients as for regular hummus, plus two red peppers

For baba ghanoush
2 medium eggplants (about 2.5 lbs)
1/3 c. tahini
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 tsp cumin
pinch of chile powder
2-4 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt

Method

1. If making red pepper hummus or baba ghanoush, you’ll first need to roast your pepper or eggplant. To do this, I like to place the vegetable in question under the broiler in the oven, then turn every 5 minutes or so until the exteriors are charred and the flesh is soft. For peppers, the time in my oven is typically 15-20 minutes. Eggplants are closer to 30 minutes. Once the pepper or eggplant is roasted, allow to cool, then peel off the skin. If you are using red peppers, slice them open and discard the seeds and white ribs (also discard the stems, for either peppers or hummus). Chop into coarse pieces.

2. For any of the dips: Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust lemon juice, salt, or tahini as needed.

Other variations:

Try using roasted garlic instead of raw for a more subtle and slightly sweet flavor (you may want to use more garlic in this case as the flavor is mellowed by roasting).

Add a spoonful or two of yogurt for an extra creamy texture and tanginess

“Mediterranean Hummus” (a la Trader Joe’s): top with finely chopped fresh basil, sundried tomatoes, olive oil, and toasted pine nuts

Roasted tomato hummus: Roast 1-2 tomatoes in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Peel and blend into plain hummus.

Add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper for an extra spicy dip

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Packed lunch: eggplant for the win

Ever since Mark Bittman got on the less-meat bandwagon a few years back, I’ve been following his writing with interest (before that, I’ll confess, not so much). I don’t always agree with what he has to say, but who do you always agree with? But back in August he penned an article that I completely and wholeheartedly agree with, on the topic of packing lunch from home. While I don’t always manage to bring a packed lunch with me to the office, I do try to make it a regular habit. Lately I’ve been making more of an effort to make lunch more of a workday high point, packing a little bento box and hunting out new outdoors spots for eating. Since I’m sure I’m not the only person who occasionally wants to bust their lunch out of a rut, I thought I’d start a little series to share some of my lunches. I’d love to get some comments on your favorite lunch ideas too!

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Getting ready to tuck in: Lunch and reading (a vintage Phillipa Gregory, Earthly Joys. Gregory is a guilty pleasure of mine, but this one didn’t catch me as much as her Tudors and Plantagenets books).

As bento boxes go, mine is fairly simple, a stainless steel Lunchbots Duo with two compartments. The box looks quite small compared to the collection of plastic containers that have held my lunches in the past, but it actually holds plenty of food. I like having the divider so that I can pack a multi-part meal like the one above. For this meal, I started with two leftover dinner dishes: half a twice cooked eggplant in spicy ginger sauce, and a small serving of coconut cauliflower rice. Then I added some ingredients I had made on Sunday and earmarked specifically for lunches. The eggplant was chopped and mixed with steamed kale and a small spoonful of spicy peanut sauce, while the cauliflower rice got a protein boost from a cupful of chickpeas. I finished it all off with a black plum (I keep thinking stone fruit season is about to end, but the market delivered these as the latest delicious proof of my wrongness).

How did it all go down? The cauliflower rice and chickpeas were good, but would have been better served at room temperature rather than very recently removed from the fridge. Something to remember for another day, right? On the other side of the box, the eggplant and kale mixture was fantastic, perfect for eating cold. I can definitely see the eggplant becoming a lunchtime star in the future, with the potential to dress up all manner of plainer vegetables and elevate salads to a whole new level.

And now, I’m off to pack up tomorrow’s lunch. Hope you enjoyed this little snapshot!

Baingan Bharta, bepeppered

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On our Sierras trip last weekend, the friends we went with broiled a couple of eggplants as part of their dinner night. I think the intention was to make baba ghanoush. What we were eventually served wasn’t like anything I’ve seen in a Mediterranean deli, but it was absolutely delicious (I think we ate the entire bowl in less than five minutes).

Fast forward to this weekend, when I found myself with a big pot of curry for dinner and an eggplant in the fridge. Continue reading Baingan Bharta, bepeppered

Twice cooked eggplant, two three ways

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Eggplant is one of those vegetables that I love when it’s cooked well, and really don’t care for under any other circumstances. To me, “good” eggplant should be almost meltingly soft, with no trace of toughness or bitterness. I have a few sure-fire methods of eggplant preparation, but up until now, they’ve all involved using the oven, and a very generous application of oil. Continue reading Twice cooked eggplant, two three ways