Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Roasted Eggplant with Buttermilk

This is a completely heavenly recipe from "Plenty."  (Actually, it's the cover recipe!)  I made it as soon as I got home from Turkey a few weeks ago, because I realized while I was there that I've been cooking eggplant wrong forever (basically, by doing anything other than baking it until it falls out of its skin), and this recipe seemed like it would fix that.   Oh man: it did.

Just to assuage my guilt about reposting other people's recipes, let me tell you that esp if you are a vegetarian, you need to buy this cookbook!  This particular recipe, for example, includes a miraculous method for de-seeding pomegranates that I'm not going to spill here.

Here's what I will tell you, though.  This is one beautiful set of flavors, and it was barely any work.  Also, this is how you cook an eggplant, regardless of what you top it with.


2 large eggplants
1/3 cup olive oil
1.5 tsp lemon thyme (I used a mix of thyme and lemon verbena)
1 pomegranate, seeded
1 tsp za'atar (make your own like this)

For sauce:
9 TB buttermilk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1.5 TB olive oil
1 small garlic clove, crushed
pinch of salt

1.  Preheat oven to 400 and prepare eggplants:  Cut in half lengthwise, leaving stem on.  Lay on baking sheet, cut sides up.  Then, "score" the flesh of each eggplant deeply with a knife, both from side-to-side and diagonally, being careful not to cut through the skin.  Finally, brush with olive oil.  Keep brushing until the flesh of the 4 halves has soaked up the entire 1/3 cup.  Sprinkle with lemon thyme, salt, and pepper.  Roast for 35-40 minutes or until soft and browned.

2.  To make the sauce, just whisk everything together.  To serve the eggplants, pour some buttermilk sauce over each half, and top with pomegranate seeds, za'aatar, and a drizzle of olive oil.  

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Chopped Veggie Soup with Pepitas and Crema

We're still splitting the difference between summer and fall here in Phoenix, where daytime temps are in the 80s or 90s but the evenings are quite chilly, dropping into the 50s. (Cue laughing from my mother in Wyoming and my sister in Colorado.) This soup does the same, but readers who are already experiencing blustery days or snow may want to swap out the zucchini for butternut.

Chopped Veggie Soup with Pepitas and Crema
1 carton of good veggie broth (Pacific brand is gluten-free)
2 14oz cans fire-roasted tomatoes
2 zucchinis
1/2 bag frozen corn
1 can cannellini beans
Several small yellow or red potatoes
Several large handfuls spinach
1 head garlic
1 yellow onion
Parmesan rinds (optional)
Olive oil
Black pepper

Heavy cream
Chopped fresh herbs (optional but a lovely topping, I used basil)

Pour a generous glug of olive oil into your soup pot and begin to heat on a medium setting. Thickly slice your onion, mince the entire head of garlic, and cut your potatoes into small segments. Add to the pot. Stir in salt and pepper and let cook until onions and potatoes soften a bit. Next add your liquids: fire-roasted tomatoes, veggie broth, and water if necessary. Start with just one can of the tomatoes and add from the second can as you like. Thoroughly rinse the beans and stir those in as well.

At this point I throw in the Parmesan rinds, which will add a rich quality to your broth. Slice your zucchinis, add the corn, and simmer until done. Continue to add salt, pepper, dill, and squeezes of lemon juice to taste.

While the broth is simmering, heat your smallest frying pan with just a touch of olive oil. Add the pepitas, salt, and pepper and leave them on until toasted, stirring occasionally. Chop fresh herbs to use as a topping along with the pepitas.

Just before you take the soup off of the stove, stir in a few handfuls of torn spinach. Remove the Parmesan rinds, ladle into bowls, and sprinkle with toasted pepitas and chopped fresh herbs. Finally, add just a drizzle of heavy cream. If you don't have cream, thin a bit of plain yogurt with lemon juice as a substitute. I also grated some additional Parmesan on top, or you could add a bit of feta.

Food Allergies and Ethics:  Gluten free (but make sure to check your broth) and vegetarian. Could easily be vegan by omitting the Parmesan rinds and the drizzle of cream at the end.