I consider it a huge win when I find something to make that is easy, delicious and visually very appealing. Even better, Valerie’s Roasted Cauliflower Steaks will make both meat lovers and vegans happy.
The “Valerie” in this dish is Valerie Bertinelli. Both an actress and an accomplished home cook, her recipes have proven easy to follow and reliable as well as delicious. Even though I was expecting this to be good, my husband and I were surprised at just how delicious it really was. ANd so pretty!
I made half of her original recipe and eyeballed most of the ingredients. So below is Valerie’s recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Steaks for those who feel most comfortable with exact amounts. This easy-going recipe will work either way. And while I did use the butter for the pine nuts and raisins, you could just as easily use either a buttery vegan spread or a good fruity EVOO to keep this dish vegan-friendly.
2 heads cauliflower (if you use larger heads you will get the 6 servings)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 cup golden raisins or raisin medley
1 tablespoon unsalted butter/vegan buttery spread or EVOO
1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped or torn
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut off the cauliflower stems, then place the heads cut-side down and slice into 1/2-inch-thick steaks. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Transfer to the oven and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, flipping after the first 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the pine nuts to a dry medium saute pan and toast over medium heat until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the raisins and butter and season with salt. Cook, tossing, until the butter has melted and coats the pine nuts and raisins. Off the heat, stir in the parsley.
Transfer the roasted cauliflower to a serving platter. Pour the pine nut-raisin mixture over the top. Season with salt.
Curried Cauliflower and Potatoes (Aloo Gobi) is a classic Northern Indian dish. The name is a literal translation of the ingredients with “aloo” meaning potato and “gobi” meaning cauliflower. This combination is perfect as part of a vegetarian, vegan or meat meal. And if you just want to add a little spice to an otherwise plain piece of broiled or baked meat or fish, this is just the dish to kick things up a notch. It makes wonderful left-overs too.
Don’t be put off by the list of spices. This is an easy dish to prepare, and uses the classic spices that would be on hand in any kitchen that enjoys either Indian or Middle Eastern cuisine. And you can be in control of the heat, making the curried cauliflower and potatoes (aloo gobi) as spicy – or not – as you like. I do strongly encourage you to grind your own spices. I can’t emphasize enough the difference it will make in your cooking. Using a spice or coffee grinder, this only adds seconds to your prep time, but will immediately transform you into a better cook.
This recipe dates back to a May, 1980 Bon Appetit article on the cuisine of northern India. The chef is Paul Bhalla and his recipes do take some preparation, but they are all well worth the effort. Unfortunately, I have not been successful in finding any of his recipes online….
For a few ideas of putting together a complete Indian meal check out these links.
Yield: About 6 to 8 servings, as part of a complete dinner
About 6 Tablespoons of margarine or vegetable oil
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5-inch cubes (I used red potatoes but Yukon Gold would also be nice)
1 teaspoon black or white whole mustard seeds
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (this makes the dish mildly spicy)
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
Pinch of asfetida (Optional, but I have it so add it. Asfetida has a unique flavor and is worth getting if you do Indian cooking)
2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1.5-inch cubes
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons slivered fresh ginger root
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
About 3 pounds of cauliflower, broken into florets (You can include some tender green leaves if you like. I did not.)
Coarsely chopped parsley or cilantro
Melt the margarine (or heat the oil) in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the potatoes and saute just until lightly browned. Remove the potatoes to a bowl and set aside.
Return the oil to hot and add the mustard seeds, shaking the pan until they begin to pop. This only takes about 30 seconds. Add the onion and brown lightly. Reduce the heat and add the dry spices and blend well with the onion.
Add the tomatoes, cilantro, ginger, jalapenos (if used) and salt. If your tomatoes are not particularly juicy, you will want to add about 2 Tablespoons of water so things don’t become too dry. Now add the cauliflower and potatoes, and turn them to coat well with the spices.
Reduce the heat to low, cover tightly and cook for about 15 minutes. You want the vegetables to be firm but tender. Garnish when ready to serve.
I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating. My two favorite cuisines are Mediterranean (in all of its forms) and Indian. Both share a wonderfully brilliant use of spices and are vegetarian-friendly.
I have also found that the two can often complement one another and I use the bread from one or the salad from the other when I am putting together a meal. And if you just go easy on the cayenne and other hot peppers, I have also discovered that they can be very kid-friendly.
Vegetarian vs. Vegetarian-Friendly
In my house we are all omnivores. Of course, we each have our pet peeves, but basically we eat everything and think that all food is sacred. Over the years, I have hosted many people for holidays and other dinners. I have had to deal with food allergies, kashrut, vegetarians, vegans and just plain-old picky eaters. But at least one of the side dishes presented here likely will appeal to someone on that list. And while I enjoy putting together an entire Indian meal, these sides are equally good with just about any roast meat, chicken or fish or as part of a vegetarian or vegan meal.
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 fresh green chili, seeded and chopped (If you don’t want the heat but just the color, use a sweet green or red pepper)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cups of water
Look through the chana dal (Yellow Split Pea) and remove any pebbles or grains. Mix the dal with the rice and rinse well and then drain.
In a medium pot with a cover, heat the oil or butter over a low temperature. Add the whole cloves, chopped garlic and pepper. After 2 minutes the cloves will begin to swell and release a wonderful fragrance. Immediately add the washed dal and rice and stir for 5 minutes.
Add the salt and turmeric and stir through for another 3 minutes. Now add the water and bring to a boil. Partially cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 45-50 minutes until both grains are soft and the water is almost entirely absorbed. If there is still water after 50 minutes, uncover the pot, turn the heat up a bit and continue cooking. (The time may be more than this depending on the actual dal used and the kind of brown rice.)
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne or Aleppo pepper (Aleppo Pepper is not as hot as cayenne but lends zing.)
1-2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
10 fresh mint leaves, chopped or chiffonade
Thinly slice the cucumbers. If they are a bit thick, then cut the cucumber in half lengthwise first so that you end up with half moons.
Toss the cucumbers with the remaining ingredients. Adjust the seasonings. This salad can be made immediately before serving. The longer it sits, the more it “pickles.”
Spinach Raita (Yogurt and Spinach Dip)
Yield: 4 servings
2 Tablespoons Canola or EVOO plus more for drizzling
1/4 teaspoon whole brown or yellow mustard seeds
1 small clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
5-6 ounces fresh baby spinach
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 cup plain yogurt (I used a Bulgarian yogurt but almost any plain yogurt will do)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or Aleppo pepper)
Pour the oil into a medium to large frying pan and set over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. As soon as they start to pop (it only takes about 30 seconds), add the garlic. Cook for a few seconds and then add all of the spinach. I like to use tongs for this next part. Stir the spinach around and cook for 5 minutes. Add about 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and mix it through. Turn off the heat and remove the spinach to a strainer set over a bowl.
When the spinach has fully drained, coarsely chop it up and set aside.
Put the yogurt in a serving bowl and whisk it with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the cayenne or Aleppo pepper. Just before you are ready to sit down, mix through the drained and chopped spinach mixture. Drizzle with a little EVOO.
A stufato is simply the Italian way to say stew. The version that appears below comes from my handwritten notes dating back about 40 years. Since writing a blog was the furthest thing from my mind then, I did not write down the author. Soooooooo, my apologies to the person(s) who came up with this delicious and easy peasy beef stew. For an old-fashioned Irish beef stew check this out.
So What is Kasha?
You could serve this warm and welcoming dish with some good chewy country bread, over rice, pasta or mashed potatoes, but I am serving it with a kasha pilaf. Kasha is roasted, whole grain buckwheat. And buckwheat is a great source of healthy fiber anti-oxidants and is rich in minerals. Best of all, it tastes great! While I am not in any way gluten-free, buckwheat is. I always make a lot because it is great as left-overs and stuffed in pita with chopped tomatoes and lettuce for a vegetarian or vegan lunch.
The Sum of Its Parts
I often find recipes with multiple parts and after I have made them, it turns out that I really only like the topping or the base but not what was in between. That’s how I came to make my Sriracha Cashews. So while beef stew definitely would not be appealing to a vegan, the buckwheat pilaf would. I have found inspiration in some unlikely places. I have successfully turned non-vegan recipes into vegan ones and clearly non-Kosher recipes into Kosher acceptable meals. So before you go dismissing a recipe, see if you can’t find some take-away that you can use.
Recipe for Stufato
Yield: 4-5 servings
2 pounds of beef stew meat, cut into 2-inch cubes
4 Tablespoons EVOO
1 large yellow onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
Up to 2 cups of a dry red wine like a Cabernet (use whatever you plan on drinking)
14.5 ounce can of a quality diced tomato (preferably San Marzano)
About 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1.5 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
2 bay leaves, dried or fresh
1 teaspoon each dried basil and thyme
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
Additional chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish (Optional)
Heat EVOO in a heavy-duty saucepan with a cover. Add meat in a single layer, without crowding and brown on all sides. (I did this in batches. If you crowd the pan, the meat won’t brown.) Remove the meat to a dish while you prepare the rest of the stufato.
Add the onion to the same pan that you browned the meat in and sprinkle with the brown sugar and about a teaspoon of salt. Saute the onion until it becomes soft, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan as you go. (The juices from the onion should be sufficient to de-glaze the pan and all of those browned bits from the meat add flavor.)
Once the onion has softened, add the wine to just cover the meat (you don’t want to drown the meat – just barely cover it), tomatoes, garlic, and herbs and stir through to mix. Now add back your meat and any juices and give another stir. Add some cracked black pepper and stir once more. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook on low for 2 hours. Adjust your seasonings and discard the bay leaves before serving.
Recipe for Buckwheat Pilaf (Vegan)
Yield: About 4 cups (Can be doubled)
1 cup of roasted whole grain buckwheat (Kasha)
2 Tablespoons of EVOO or butter
2 cups of hot broth (Vegetarian, chicken or beef, preferably unsalted) (If using salted broth, eliminate the additional salt mentioned below.)
1/2 cup each: chopped yellow onion, sliced mushrooms, celery and carrots
About 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the butter or oil and add the vegetables. Saute the vegetables until slightly softened.
Add the hot broth (and salt, if adding) and bring to a boil. Add the kasha and stir through. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 12 minutes or until most of the water has been absorbed. Uncover the pot and fluff the pilaf with a fork before serving.
I have been hesitant to add recipes like this to the blog because they seem so obvious to me and because I really don’t measure when I make them. However, I realized that what may appear obvious to me just may not be to someone else.
Just Plain Good
This zucchini bake doesn’t have strange new combinations of ingredients or use sous vide techniques. It is simple to make, very flexible and the results are delicious almost no matter what you do. The fact is that the zucchini bake is just plain good. Zucchini bake goes beautifully with any grilled meat, poultry or fish. It could also be a main feature of a vegetarian meal.
East Does It
When my son was little, I always looked for new ways to get vegetables into him. Since most children – and adults – like pizza, I took the basic elements of a vegetarian pizza but changed the emphasis of the ingredients. Even though my son thought that he wasn’t a fan of zucchini, he always gobbled this up. Below are some basic guidelines for this easy and delicious side dish. However, feel free to add or change the cheeses or switch up the herbs to make it your own. You can also easily double or triple the ingredients to serve a crowd.
Switching It Up
If you decide that you like the zucchini bake but want to switch it up a bit, you could try the following:
Change the herbs – use thyme instead of basil and oregano
Change the cheeses to match. Use a good Gruyere, Comte or aged Cheddar cheese instead of one of the Italian cheeses
Add some sauteed onion to the layering
OR use feta or other goat cheese mixed with some Swizz, Mozzarella or Greek Kaseri cheese and Za’atar and Aleppo pepper
Ingredients for 4 servings
1 pound zucchini, cut into 3/8-inch rounds
14.5 ounce can stewed tomatoes
EVOO (preferably garlic flavored) for drizzling
Kosher salt and cracked pepper, to taste
About 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
About 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 cup (or more, to taste) of shredded or grated cheese (I like a mix of Mozzarella, Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, Fontina, Provolone or Asiago. Use cheeses with flavor – not like that soapy stuff that you get on some pizzas.)
About 1/4 cup of dried bread crumbs, plain or seasoned
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the zucchini and partially cover the pot, if necessary to maintain a good simmer. Cook the zucchini for 3-4 minutes and immediately strain the zucchini under VERY cold water. Spread the zucchini out on a tea towel and pat dry. You want to just barely blanch the zucchini. (What you want to absolutely avoid is mushy zucchini.)
Use a heavy baking dish that is large enough to hold the zucchini when layered. (The shape of the dish is irrelevant.) Drizzle the bottom of the dish with EVOO. I like to use garlic-flavored EVOO but plain is fine if that is all you have.
Place a layer of broken up stewed tomatoes on the bottom of the dish. Add a layer of zucchini. Sprinkle with cheese and bread crumbs. Crumble some of the basil and oregano over the bread crumbs, along with a sprinkling of salt and cracked pepper. (I never measure, but don’t be stingy with the herbs.) Drizzle a little EVOO on top and then repeat the layering until you have used everything up. I like to end with tomatoes.
Spoon the liquid from the tomatoes over the top. Add a bit more cheese and drizzle with EVOO. (There is no magic here, so it is hard to mess this up. If this is part of a main dish vegetarian meal, I might add more cheese than if it is simply a side.)
Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes or until the top is golden and the cheeses are melted. The zucchini bake can be made ahead and reheated.
As we prepare to complete the 10 Days of Awe with the observance of Yom Kippur, the Day of Repentance, Jews everywhere not only each reflect on how they could become a better person in the coming year, but also on what they will eat to break the fast. I don’t know about you, but if I have been fasting for more than 24 hours, I don’t want to wait while something heats up in order to break my fast. Some people set out an elaborate dairy spread, but I also want something traditional, quick and delicious. So while I likely will have bagels and lox for my husband, I want kugel. People tend to fall into two camps – those who like potato kugel and those who like noodle kugel. Some swing both ways, but I’m not one of them. And while I always say that I never met a potato that I didn’t like, I’m actually not a fan of potato kugel.
This simple and wonderful recipe is perfect for a “break-the-fast” or as a side to the pre-fast meal. It is sweet and flavorful without being cloying and can be eaten hot or at room temperature. I’ve been known to snack on it right from the fridge. Unlike many noodle kugels, especially the kind you find at synagogue functions, this does not contain cheese or vanilla. While those make perfect-looking pieces to serve, I personally find them overly sweet, overly heavy and often with a phony vanilla taste. This kugel doesn’t require any of that. The natural apple flavor is clean, naturally sweet with just a little “bite” from the cinnamon. The pineapple adds a very subtle background note.
The recipe was passed down to me from the actor Mandy Patinkin’s Aunt Ida – a lovely woman who attended my synagogue and was a neighbor for many years. I have made a few small tweaks, but the essential recipe is from the Patinkin family. It pairs beautifully with roast chicken or brisket and is also ideal for a brunch. Left-overs never last long, but it does also freeze well. I make several different noodle kugel recipes throughout the year, but this one is still my favorite. And you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy it!
May you all be sealed in the Book of Life.
Apple Cinnamon Noodle Kugel
Yield: About 10 to 12 portions
8 ounces medium/broad egg noodles
1 stick (4 ounces) of unsalted butter (or margarine if you need it to be pareve) melted
1/2 cup of granulated sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons cinnamon or to taste (It will partly depend on how sweet your apples are, but this is generally what I use.) [Reserve about 2-3 Tablespoons for the topping or just make an additional amount which is what I generally do.]
1 lemon cut in half for rubbing on apples to prevent them from turning brown
6 medium flavorful apples peeled, rubbed with a cut lemon and thinly sliced (Macintosh is traditional, but pretty much any good baking apple except for Granny Smith, which I think gets too woody.)
Kosher salt to taste but about 3/4 to 1 teaspoon should be right
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
8.5 ounces of canned, crushed pineapple in juice or syrup (It depends what I can find. Syrup was in the original recipe, but my preference is for pineapple in juice. If it is in syrup, I might go a little lighter on the sugar.)
About 1/4 cup of unsalted butter, melted for drizzling over the top (Optional)
The original recipe called for crushed cornflakes tossed with cinnamon sugar which was very big in the 1950’s. It goes over the top of the kugel before baking. I don’t use it myself. I simply sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon sugar most of the time, and if I’m getting fancy, I sometimes add chopped nuts or crushed amaretti cookies.
Prepare your apples while the water is boiling and the noodles are cooking. Place them in a very large bowl. Squeeze a bit of the lemon juice over the apples to prevent them from browning.
Cook the noodles according to the shortest cooking time on the package directions – usually 8 minutes. Drain the cooked noodles very well.
Heat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Mix in all of the remaining ingredients to the apples, including the drained noodles and melted butter. Save adding the eggs for last. If you forgot to set aside some of the cinnamon sugar, don’t fret. This is a very forgiving recipe and you can just make a little more to add at the end, which is generally what I do. It will look as if the mixture is too much for the pan, but trust me – it fits. Do NOT skimp on the apples!
Pour the mixture into a buttered (margarined or PAM’d) 11 x 9 x 2-inch rectangular pan and spread it evenly. If you are using the cornflakes topping, add it now. Otherwise just sprinkle with the reserved or additional cinnamon sugar. This would be when you add your nuts or amaretti cookies if you are using them. I like to drizzle a bit of additional melted butter on top, but you don’t have to. It’s just better if you do!
Bake for 20 minutes uncovered. Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. and continue baking for about another hour or until well-browned. Allow it to cool a bit before cutting in order for the “pudding” to set. If you plan on serving it at room temperature, this won’t be an issue. And no matter how it looks, it tastes AMAZING. My father always used to tell my mother when her incredibly flaky pie crust would crumble when cut that we weren’t making a dress out of it. He would then proceed to eat a huge piece of her apple pie and say that it was a nice sample and cut himself another slice which he also devoured.
Dal is a cornerstone of Indian meals. They are wonderful with lamb and chicken or as part of a healthy vegetarian meal. And while I truly love Indian food, I have to be honest – it doesn’t make the most compelling photographs. Don’t be put off by that. The flavors in this dal are rich and smoky and yet mellow all at the same time. It’s very easy to make and if you get into South Asian or Middle eastern cooking, all of the ingredients will become staples in your kitchen as they are now in mine. Make the full amount since left-overs will not go uneaten.
I highly recommend the cookbook linked below. It is full of step by step instructions and photos so that even a novice cook can make successful meals.
2-4 dried red cayenne chilies (like chili de Arbol), stems discarded
1 Tablespoon whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 medium tomato, cored and diced
1.5 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/2-inch dice. Place the potatoes in a bowl of cold water to prevent them from darkening.
Place the split peas in a 4 quart saucepan. Add water to cover and rinse the peas, rubbing them gently between your fingers. Remove any debris that may be lurking (pebbles or the odd skin of the pea). Drain the peas and repeat until the water runs clear. Then add the peas to 4 cups of water in the saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. White foam should rise to the surface. Using a spoon, remove the foam and discard it.
Drain the potatoes and add them to the peas along with the turmeric. Simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally for 20-25 minutes or until the peas are tender and the potatoes are cooked.
In a small skillet, add the chilies, coriander and cumin and toast the spices over medium high heat, tossing them occasionally until the chilies are blackened and the coriander seeds are reddish in color. Everything will smell smoky and aromatic. Transfer the spice blend and the tomatoes into a blender and puree.
Once the peas and potatoes are cooked (there will be liquid remaining in the pot), add every bit of the tomato and spice paste to the pot. Stir through. This can be made ahead to this point. Stir in the salt.
Increase the heat to medium high and allow the dal to boil vigorously, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 15 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle and the dal to thicken. You can use the back of a wooden spoon to smush some of the potatoes and yellow split peas for an even thicker sauce. Garnish with cilantro when serving.
This is a wonderfully fragrant heated yogurt sauce. The chickpea flour not only keeps the yogurt from curdling when heated but it adds a nutty flavor and extra nutrition, which is especially great for those following a vegetarian diet. The sauce is poured over rice or eaten with whole-grain flat-breads. There are regional varieties and I look forward to trying them all. It is also enjoyed by meat-eaters and I served it with Lemony Ground Lamb with Mint and Red Lentils with Ginger. (See previous recipe)
3/4 teaspoon whole brown or yellow mustard seeds (I used brown)
1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
2 dried hot red chilies
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
8 fresh curry leaves, chopped (I bought these online and keep unused leaves in my freezer, which I pull out as needed.)
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
Put the chickpea flour in a large bowl. Very slowly add 1/2 cup of water, beating with a whisk as you do so. Keep beating until there are no more lumps.
Add the yogurt and whisk until smooth. Add another 2 cups of water, gradually, whisking as you go.
Pour the oil into a 3 or 4 quart pot and set over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the seeds and the chilies. As soon as the seeds begin to pop, add the turmeric and curry leaves. Stir once and add the yogurt mixture. Stir with a whisk.
Add the salt. Keep stirring with a whisk until the mixture thickens and starts to bubble. Partially cover the pan, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 25 minutes.
I have often thought that it is possible to mix cuisines, especially with a bit of tweaking. I wanted something to go with my herbed lamb patties (see following post) in addition to the traditional tahini spread. I remembered that I had made a raita with roasted eggplant that I believed would do the trick. After reviewing the recipe, I decided to play with the seasonings a bit to take this Indian condiment and make it a bit more Middle Eastern. The original recipe came from The Vegetarian Epicure, Book Two by Anna Thomas. It is a wonderful accompaniment to grilled meats or as a dip with pita or other flat bread.
Eggplant Raita Middle Eastern Style
Yield: About 3 cups
1 eggplant (about 1.5 pounds)
2 Tablespoons EVOO
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half or quarters, if on the larger side
1/4 teaspoon of Aleppo or cayenne pepper
Juice of 1/2 a large lemon
1.25 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 cups Greek-style yogurt
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Prick the eggplant all over with a fork. Place it on heavy duty foil in a pan large enough to hold that has sides. Roast it in a preheated 400 degree F. oven for 1 hour, turning once. The eggplant should be completely soft and somewhat collapsed. (This can also be done over an open flame, which tastes wonderful but can get very messy.) Allow the eggplant to cool slightly and then slice it in half. Scoop out all of the pulp, removing as many clusters of seeds as you can. Place it over a strainer and allow the juices to drain. Then coarsely chop the pulp.
Heat the EVOO in a medium skillet and saute the onions until they are translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and spices and stir over low heat for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and salt and continue cooking until the tomatoes begin to soften. Add the eggplant pulp and stir through and remove from the heat.
Stir the eggplant/onion mixture through the yogurt. Add the lemon juice and pepper and mix well. Taste and adjust your seasonings if necessary. Add the chopped cilantro and mix thoroughly. Allow to chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
I have never met an eggplant that I didn’t like and frankly cannot understand when someone tells me they don’t eat eggplants. They can be prepared so many ways! And they are beautiful. So when I saw this recipe for Tian d’Aubergines in last week’s Chicago Tribune I had to try it. Tomatoes are at their most gorgeous now and I was able to pick up some luscious ripe ones at my local market. The only thing I changed from the original recipe was to add garlic because who makes eggplant without garlic?? I also layered my herbs and salt and pepper because – well, layering flavors is just better. This dish can be eaten hot, room temperature or cold. I am serving it at room temperature tonight with some lamb chops and a lovely rosé from Provence. I imagine that leftovers will be eaten with just some crusty bread to soak up all of the delicious liquid and a bright green salad. I did buy some Greek cheese the other day so I might have some sliced on the side. This is one of those wonderfully simple and versatile dishes like a good ratatouille. I was skeptical when I read that it baked for two hours, but the final result is deliciously unctuous so don’t skimp on the baking time.
Eggplant and Tomato Bakefrom Monique Hanson
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
Lots of fresh thyme leaves
3 medium eggplants
4 large ripe tomatoes
5 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
8 Tablespoons EVOO plus more for drizzling
Kosher or sea salt to taste and fresh ground black pepper or Aleppo pepper if you have it
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly drizzle oil on the bottom of a heavy rectangular baking dish (mine was 9.5 by 13) large enough to hold everything very snugly (there will be some shrinkage when it bakes). Place the baking dish on a pan since there might be a little spillage when it bakes.
Layer the onions and garlic over the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with lots of fresh thyme leaves, a sprinkling of salt and some pepper.
Cut off both ends of the eggplants and then slice almost all of the way through but not entirely at 1/2 inch intervals. Slice your tomatoes and nestle one slice between the cuts in the eggplant.
Place the stuffed eggplants in the baking pan over the onion and garlic. Don’t worry if you have to squish things a little to force them in. They will bake down. Sprinkle with more thyme, salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, make the vinaigrette. Mix well and drizzle it over the eggplant. Drizzle a little more EVOO and sprinkle a little more salt.
Bake uncovered for 1 hour. Then cover and bake for another hour until the eggplant is cooked through, the house smells amazing and the liquid is bubbling up in the baking dish. Serve at any temperature that you choose.