Tag: Vegetables (Page 2 of 2)

Creamy Chopped Eggplant Dip

I have a long-held fascination with eggplant.

It all started with food television. Growing up, I watched in awe as chefs prepared this strange, spongy vegetable. Sometimes they roasted it and sometimes they fried it. Either way, I just knew that someday I would love eggplant and I was right.

Eggplant just wasn’t a vegetable that appeared on my family’s table. . . or any other family that we visited’s tables. I didn’t see it at church picnics or soccer team potlucks. Maybe eggplant has become more popular in the kitchens of the Twin Cities’ southern ‘burbs. It’s so good and so versatile.

Earlier this year, I watched the episode of Trisha Yearwood’s (my childhood hero) cooking show on Food Network in which Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner were special guests. Nadia prepared this simple eggplant dip called Salata de Vinete that caught my eye. I whipped together this dip based upon what I remembered seeing her prepare during this episode.

Jake and I liked the dip so much that it’s already gone. After we enjoyed it for dinner, I polished off the leftovers for breakfast and am contemplating preparing a second batch.

Creamy Chopped Eggplant Dip
Adapted from Nadia Comaneci’s recipe for Salata de Vinete. Use as many eggplants as you like. I’d recommend small-medium sized eggplants so they’ll roast faster and have smaller seeds, but use what you have. 

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Ingredients:
Eggplant
Olive oil
Salt
Onion, finely diced (as much as you like)
Garlic, powdered or freshly grated
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Mayonnaise (can substitute greek yogurt or sour cream).
Lemon juice, to taste
Dill, dried or fresh
Smoked paprika or my favorite – half sharp Hungarian paprika, a dash or two

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400℉.
  2. Wash eggplants. Prick several times with a fork or knife so they don’t explode while baking. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Roast eggplants until they are soft inside and blistered outside. Flip a few times during cooking. This will take about 40-minutes for small eggplants and longer if they are larger.
  4. When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and remove the stem. Let any liquid drain away from the eggplant.
  5. Chop into small pieces. If you want a smoother texture, chop finer.
  6. Combine chopped eggplant with red onion and a couple dollops of mayonnaise. Start with a little bit of each and add as needed.
  7. Season with garlic powder or grated garlic, paprika, salt, pepper, dill and lemon juice, to taste.
  8. Serve with toasted pita bread.

Beet & Goat Cheese Flatbread

I love baking homemade pizza and homemade pizza is Jake’s favorite.

This week, I found beets at the farmers market and eagerly bought a couple of bunches. We ate the leafy beet greens right away. If you haven’t tried them, cook them like you would any other green. I don’t blanche the tops because they’re tender and wilt quickly like spinach.

Kale is the green everyone talks about, but we enjoy beet greens more. I toss them into sautéed onion and garlic and briefly wilt them in soy sauce and honey or maple syrup for a sweet and salty treat.

Beet Greens

For a special midweek treat, I prepared this beet and goat cheese flatbread. I baked my favorite, thin crust pizza dough recipe and spread it with goat cheese flavored with garlic scapes. Then, I sprinkled over diced beets and green onion. Beets and goat cheese is one of our favorite combinations and it brightened up our week.

Beet and Goat Cheese Flatbread
Makes two large but very thin flatbreads.

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How To Prepare the Garlic Scape Goat Cheese
Combine a large 10 oz. package of plain goat cheese with enough milk or cream to make it spreadable. Add minced garlic scape. The flavor of the scape is strong so I used a handful. If you can’t find garlic scapes, you could add minced garlic, green onion, chives, dill, and/or parsley.

How To Cook the Beets

Beets
I cook beets by simmering them in water because I first learned to cook them this way, though many prefer to roast. Be aware that beets will stain your cutting board. Here’s my simmering method:

  1. Clean the beets and remove most of the stem.
  2. Place them in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer until they are tender enough to easily insert a knife into the center.
  3. Drain and cool until they’re cool enough to handle.
  4. Gently peel off the skin and remove the stem and tails.
  5. Slice or dice however you wish.

Preparing the Flat Bread:
Adapted from the recipe Lahmacun published by Saveur. 

Ingredients:
1 package of quick rise yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast and sugar. Hot water will kill the yeast. Allow to sit and bloom until it bubbles.
  2. Add the flour and salt to a large bowl. If preparing by hand, make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast mixture and olive oil. Gradually stir until the dough forms a ball. If using a stand mixer, add the yeast-water mixture and oil to the flour on low and mix with a dough hook until the dough pulls away from the sides and forms a ball. If it’s too dry, slowly stream in a little water. If the dough is too soft and sticky, add a little flour. Knead or mix at a higher speed until the dough is smooth and elastic and not too sticky.
  3. Form dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Loosely cover and place in a warm location until it’s doubled in size.
  4. Punch down and divide in half.
  5. On a floured surface, roll out dough and place on an oiled baking sheet. Stretch the dough towards the edges.
  6. Allow the dough to rise again for about 1/2 hour.
  7. Pre-heat oven to 400℉
  8. Lightly brush the dough with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Bake until the dough is cooked through and golden brown on the bottom.

To Assemble the Flatbread

  1. Spread the warm pizza crust with the goat cheese mixture.
  2. Sprinkle with diced beets, sliced green onion and any herbs you desire.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Slice and serve.

Clara Cannucciari’s Asparagus Sandwiches

Last year, I became fascinated with Clara Cannucciari (August 28, 1915-November 29, 2013) after reading Clara’s Kitchen, a book she co-authored about growing up during the Great Depression. The cover of her book states she is, “Everybody’s favorite YouTube Grandmother,” as she also hosted online cooking segments through age 96. 

She’s certainly mine, as none of my grandmothers ever appeared on YouTube, not even our incredible adopted Grandma Burrell. 

Clara describes growing up during a time when food was scarce and jobs, scarcer. She shares the recipes that sustained her family and the necessary adjustments they made to reduce food wastage and save money. Her recipes are simple. Some, remarkably so, yet I often found myself wondering, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Her family was rarely able to afford meat and relied on sustainable and local food systems such as raising their own chickens for eggs, planting a vibrant garden, canning excess produce, and foraging for wild edibles.  For example, Clara describes how to prepare dandelion greens and burdock stalks, plants that are still available in our own backyards or parkways.

Did you know that you can place anything between two slices of bread and call it a sandwich? My significant other and I have eaten many recipes from Clara’s book, including many of these sandwiches. One evening, we made “Salad Sandwiches” from leftover rainbow chard quickly blanched in hot water, shocked in ice water, and sautéed with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. We also feasted on eggplant burgers, replacing ground beef with a fried slice of eggplant, plus the usual burger accoutrements. 

Our favorite of all was this asparagus sandwich and we’ve made it many times, since.

Asparagus Sandwich EditedClara’s Asparagus Sandwich

Ingredients:
1 bunch of asparagus, woody ends removed
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
Sliced bread
Butter
Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
Lemon or lime wedges

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425℉.
  2. Wash the asparagus. Remove the woody ends (I like to snap off the ends).
  3. On a sheet pan, drizzle the asparagus with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the stalks in a single layer and roast for a few minutes. Flip the asparagus, and roast for a few more minutes or until tender.
  4. Toast your slices of bread and butter them. Place the asparagus between the buttered bread, sprinkle with freshly grated cheese, and spritz with a squirt of lemon or lime.
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