Roasted Eggplant on Toasted Pita

March 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

Ah, an over-stuffed pita sandwich…yum.

Who am I kidding!? When have I ever stuffed a pita and have it NOT break apart on me? Never. Ever. And once it breaks, it’s just all downhill from there. Your fingers get full of hummus. Whatever dressing you’ve put on the sandwich runs down your wrist into your sleeve. It’s no good, stuffing a pita.

Better to use pita like a sandwich bread.

Roasted eggplant and hummus on toasted pita

Roasted eggplant and hummus on toasted pita

That’s exactly what I did for lunch yesterday. Toasted pita cut into two half moons, each spread with Red Pepper Hummus, some roasted eggplant, and some greens lightly dressed with Lemony Vinaigrette. After chowing down, I realized the Fiery Onion Relish may have been a fun thing to have as a topping, too.

Maybe I’ll try that for today’s lunch.

 

 

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Red Pepper Hummus

February 26, 2013 § 4 Comments

We haven’t bought a can of beans in, oh gosh…I’d say six months. This weekend we used our last stray can of black beans for a chili—and I remember moving to our new house with it and packing it away on an upper kitchen shelf. Cooking up dried beans in a pressure cooker is super easy and super cheap, and here’s the bonus: You get several cups of flavorful bean broth to add to whatever dish needs a little tasty liquid. (See how easy it is here.)

And if we’re cooking up our own beans, we might as well make our own favorite bean-based spread, right? I’m speaking of hummus, of course, made with those funny looking little chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans). I’ve written about hummus here before, but after making several batches of the stuff, I was left disappointed. Too thick. I wanted the creaminess you’d find in the off-the-shelf brands.

Jennifer found the solution—or very nearly—with a recipe from The New Moosewood Cookbook. Not completely creamy as we had hoped, she adjusted and tasted and made batch after batch until finally, she made the perfect consistency. The secret? Adding in some of that aforementioned bean broth and reducing the amount of tahini. Oh, and adding in a roasted red pepper.

Red Pepper Hummus (adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook)

red pepper hummus

red pepper hummus

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • large handful parsley
  • 2 scallions, chopped into 1-in. pieces
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (nearly a 1-lb. bag of dry beans cooked, reserve cooking liquid)
  • 4 tbs. tahini
  • Juice of one lemon juice (or more, depending on said lemon’s juiciness)
  • 3/4-1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 – 1/2 sumac to taste (optional if you can find it at your local Middle Eastern grocer)
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1 red pepper, roasted at 425F for 30 min., cooled and skin removed, and cut into strips

1. In a food processor combine the garlic, parsley and scallions, and whir up into a mince.
2. Add chickpeas, tahini, lemon and salt. Puree into a paste.
3. Add the cumin, sumac and paprika as you add some of that reserved bean cooking liquid—try about 1/4 cup—and process. Add more liquid by the tablespoon until you find the consistency right for you. Careful with the sumac—you may like just a tad, so taste before adding any more than a 1/4 tsp.
4. Add the red pepper at the very end and pulse the food processor until it breaks down the red pepper. We’re not looking for a completely pureeing of the pepper. We just want it broken down into bits.

It’s great on a chip, on this awesome cracker we made last week, or—my favorite use—schmeared on a Roasted Eggplant on Whole Wheat Sandwich.

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

March 21, 2011 § 6 Comments

So, about that two-thirds vegan diet … Oh, no worries, we’re still on it and still successful. Yay us! There is one small side effect, however, that I need to address. I get a vacant-minded, mad-hungry feeling around lunch time, and no matter how much I eat, I’m still kinda not all there. I’m thinking I may need more protein around then.

I’m no nutritionist, but I do know that a not-so-magical combination of certain beans and grains form a perfect (or close to it) protein. Do red beans and rice stave off the protein cravings enough so you don’t go chasing the nearest cow? I’m pretty sure they do.

In search of a protein-packed lunch option, two recipes found their way to me. The first just happened to be one of many Turkish recipes found in last Wednesday’s Boston Globe. Middle Easterners boy, do they know how to make huge flavors in vegan meals. Below is the recipe with a few changes as noted.

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

Turkish Red Lentil Soup (Ezogelin in Turkish)

  • 2 tbs butter (I used a couple swigs olive oil)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbs tomato paste (what to do with the rest of the can? freeze it)
  • 1/2 cup bulgar wheat
  • 2/3 cup red lentils
  • 7 cups chicken stock (we used veggie stock)
  • 3 tbs dried mint (couldn’t find any! so we used minced fresh, about 3tbs)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste

-In a soup pot over medium heat, heat up butter or oil. Cook up onion until softened, about 5 min. Stir in tomato paste until blended in – 30-60 sec.

-Add bulgur, lentils and stock. Boil then simmer on low heat, pot covered. Let it simmer for about 30 min until lentils and bulgur are tender.

-Add mint, thyme, red pepper, salt and black pepper and simmer a few more minutes to meld the flavors.

Use RED lentils, not green. Red lentils tend to break down further than green, creating more of a mush or, when in a soup, it’s more of a thickener. You can use green but, well … I wouldn’t, not for this soup.

We actually had this last night for dinner, served with hunks of fresh bread (I’m still baking!) and a side of lentil-bulgur salad—another high-protein dish. I’ll give you that recipe tomorrow. That is a seriously tasty salad.

Cauliflower Masala

March 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s not that I don’t like Middle Eastern/East Asian spices. I love them. I just don’t know how to use them.

For me, adding a shake of tumeric or fenugreek isn’t like reaching for the thyme or oregano. There’s a feeling for proportion with these spices with which I am not yet familiar.

Cooking is about trying new things. So, I tried something new last night. Cauliflower Masala.

A few months ago when I was testing out names for blogs I thought would be appropriate for me, I typed in www.growcookeat.com into my little url space and – what do you know – someone already had that blog. A chef/urban gardener/consultant, Julia Shanks had already taken the perfect name. Turns out she’s in the Boston area, too. Julia, if you read this, we should meet up and talk about getting a jump on the gardening season.

Cruising around her site, I found a recipe I just had to put in my “to cook later” files. I love cauliflower (my mother was be aghast to hear that), and it’s about time I try my hand with Middle Eastern spices. The recipe seemed ultra-accessible, so why not?

Again, I made a few changes to the recipe due to only having a 1/2 head of cauliflower – hers calls for a whole head, no potato, one tomato and a whole onion. I kept the spice proportion the same.

Ingredients

Cauliflower Masala

Cauliflower Masala

  • 1/2 head cauliflower, separated
    2 potatoes, on the smaller side, cut into 3/4-in. chunks
    1+ 1 tbs. olive oil
    1/2 onion, chopped or diced
    minced fresh ginger, about the size of your thumb to your first knuckle
    1clove garlic, finely chopped
    ½ tsp. brown mustard seed
    ½ tsp. cumin
    pinch fenugreek
    ½ tsp. turmeric
    2 tomatoes, chopped – try to keep the juices if you can
    1 fresh green chili, sliced
    Salt to taste

-Toss cauliflower and potato with the olive oil and add a pinch of salt/twist of fresh pepper. Put on a baking sheet and roast in a 425F oven for 20 minutes.

-Meanwhile, saute onion, garlic and ginger in another 1 tbs. olive oil on med-low heat. Let it cook down until the onions are transparent – 5 minutes or so.

-While that is happening, rough chop the tomatoes. Instead of slicing, I minced the chili because I’m a wuss. But, I did mix the tomatoes and chili with a pinch of kosher salt and let them sit together until needed, letting the flavors meld together.

-When onions, garlic and ginger are nicely sauteed, add the spices, stir, and let them sit on low for a minute. Add the tomatoes and chili. Cover and let sit until cauliflower is done – no more than a couple of minutes.

-Time the cauliflower to come out just as the tomatoes go into the onions. Add the roasted veggies and mix the flavors together. Season with salt.

Oh my lord, it worked. The flavors were amazing. So simple and so QUICK. I’d serve it on top or alongside of cous cous or rice, but last night we had it on its own.

A note about proportions – I used half a cauliflower because that’s what we had and added in an extra tomato and the potatoes to make up for some of the bulk. Even with a whole head I would add in two tomatoes. The potatoes were good in it, too. The recipe is definitely a keeper. Thanks, Julia.

P.S. Yes, my food photography sucks. It’s just my camera phone. But I’m in the process of researching cameras. Any suggestions?

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