Baba Ghanoush Recipe

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This eggplant/aubergine dish is deceptively simple but we have eaten it as a side dish, snack, and even a topping for brown rice.  Does anyone else call eggplant “aubergine” or is it just those of us raised in households with European and/or Middle Eastern backgrounds?  Now I do know someone who is allergic to eggplant and eggplant is featured in the graphic on a recent New York Times call for comments and submissions titled “Is There Such a Thing as a Cucumber Allergy?” so hopefully this is a safe choice for your family.

Supplies

Cutting Board

Paper Towels

Knife

Baking Pan

Aluminum Foil (optional)

Oven with Broiler

Food Processor or Blender

Ingredients

1 medium to large eggplant

1 tablespoon of sunflower seed butter

1/3 of a tablespoon of fresh basil leaves, chopped

1/4 of a teaspoon of sea salt (even though E is clear of her corn allergy I still use sea salt instead of iodized salt), plus more for preparing the eggplant

Olive Oil for the pan

1 lemon’s worth of fresh lemon juice (you may want to adjust this to taste but fresh lemon juice is crucial)

2 medium cloves of garlic, crushed

Directions

To prepare the eggplant you need to peel it and cut it into rounds about 1/2 an inch thick.  I prefer rounds to dicing just because it is easier to salt them at this stage and they will break up when you pulse them in the food processor or blender later on.  Salt both sides of the rounds and lay them on a paper towel, sprinkling salt over both sides of each round before you place them.  I like to place the paper towel on my cutting board.  Then layer another paper towel on top and you can keep layering salted rounds with paper towels as needed.  Now let them sit for at least 20 minutes.  You’ll find that the paper towel absorbs some of the liquid drawn out from the eggplant.  I believe it improves the flavor of the eggplant by drawing some of the bitterness out.

Near the end of letting the eggplant sit, you’ll want to start your oven.  Prepare a baking or jelly roll pan by either lining it with foil (non-stick foil can be great if you’re trying to go easy on oil) and then brushing some olive oil on it to lightly coat the surface or just brushing olive oil directly on the pan.  My pan is in pretty bad shape from years of cooking so I opt for foil.  Place the eggplant rounds or cubes onto your prepared pan.  Sometimes I simply bake the eggplant at 450 degrees F until they are tender, remembering to flip them at the 10 minute mark an assessing when I am content with how “done” they are before switching to the top oven broiler to give them that roasted flavor and other times I just use the broiler to start, keeping the pan 6 or 7 inches away from the heating element and turning as needed.  The all-broiler method requires some attentiveness so that may help you decide but you’ll be pureeing the end result so you just want to make sure the eggplant is cooked all the way through.  I apologize for the vague instructions but depending on how much oil you use on the pan and whether you have rounds or diced pieces your cooking time may vary.

While the eggplant cooks, you can juice your fresh lemon and set the juice aside.  You’ll add it in increments to the eggplant, sunflower seed butter, fresh basil, and salt in the food processor or blender.  You can put the still warm eggplant directly into your mixer of choice but if you are using a blender don’t put the lid on right away because you don’t want the steam to build.  A food processor is more forgiving if you leave the food pusher out so the steam can escape.  Give your ingredients a whirl, starting with maybe a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and then taste what you’ve made!  Warm Baba Ghanoush is lovely but letting the dip sit covered in your fridge overnight will enhance the flavor as well so it is your call. It rarely lasts overnight at my house.

According to my calculations, the recipe should be less than 200 calories for the whole dish so you can enjoy the dip fairly guilt-free with a serving of brown rice or chips.

Light Quinoa Tabouli (or Tabbouleh or Tabbouli)

I always suggest this cool summer salad to people when they are looking for a way to spruce up their quinoa (a wonderful staple all alone) and yet I’ve never posted about it!  Quinoa makes a great stand in for the usual tabouli base of wheat bulgur (E is allergic to wheat as you may know).  We serve this with our favorite falafel recipe (I made a double batch which yielded 27 patties at under 70 calories apiece) and bean dip.  Now that I can eat tomatoes again I am sure to throw some extra tomatoes on my plate as well.  I can’t help it!

Oh, and I have seen this spelled tabouli, tabbouleh, and tabbouli just to name three variations and though Wikipedia goes with “tabbouleh” I’m going to use “tabouli” because I don’t do well remembering to be consistent when double letters are at play.

Supplies

Cutting board and knife

Large Bowl

Scale and/or measuring cups

Ingredients

3.5 cups cooked quinoa (about 640 grams) – this would be just a little over 1 cup dry quinoa

4 or 5 leaves (or 2 grams) of minced fresh mint – you can of course put more but the mint I’d purchased wasn’t all good

20 diced grape tomatoes (or 2 servings at 85 grams each)

100 grams of onion (or half a medium onion), diced

10 grams of parsley (about half a cup), minced

2 tbsp lemon juice (fresh or bottled, though fresh is tastiest)

1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil – this is where I was trying to save calories)

1 clove of garlic, crushed (optional, sometimes kids don’t like a strong garlic flavor) or 1 tsp of granulated garlic

1/4 tsp sea salt

pepper to taste

Directions

This is a very forgiving recipe, you can really cook any amount of quinoa to suit the proportion of herbs that you have but I had made quinoa the night before and had 3.5 cups of cooked quinoa left, hence the weird measurement here.  So rinse one to two cups of dry quinoa thoroughly while double the water is brought to a boil on your stove.  1 cup of quinoa needs 2 cups of water, and so on.  When the water is boiling, add your rinsed quinoa and reduce the heat to low, covering your pot with a lid and setting your timer at 15-20 minutes.  15 minutes usually does the trick for a cup of quinoa.  When the quinoa is fluffy, you’ll want to remove it from the heat and let it cool.

Chop your mint, parsley, onions, garlic, and tomatoes and combine with the cooled quinoa.  Add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Stir to combine, cover, and refrigerate a few hours or over night.  The flavors improve the longer the dish rests.  95 grams of the recipe I made above is about 102 calories which is not far removed from the usual nutritional profile of quinoa.  My kids like mint but they preferred this iteration of the salad over my usual ones when I have free reign with my fresh mint.  I’m guessing I overdo the herbs so a little restraint helps when you’re serving this dish to children.

As I mentioned above, enjoy alone or with falafel and bean dip!  However you spell it, it is a great option to add to your meal rotation.

(Shared on Cybele Pascal’s 8/3/12 Allergy Friendly Friday)

Arugula White Bean Dip Recipe

My kids love bean dip.  I think most children love dipping their food as a general rule but bean dip is a great option because it packs a nutritional punch.  Despite being a daily staple, I haven’t posted our usual hummus recipe because it is different every time – a little of this, a little of that, whatever beans we have on hand, all thrown into the food processor.  Enter this recipe for Arugula White Bean Dip by Maggie Verderame, founder of Kids Do Yoga located at The District at Green Valley Ranch.  My friend Elizabeth forwarded me the recipe knowing how much E and R love bean dip because the inclusion of arugula is a great way to include more greens in their diet.  We enjoyed it so much I e-mailed Maggie for permission to feature it here and she was happy to!

The recipe is really open to customization – different beans or different greens – but it is creamiest with white beans.  When I made it with garbanzo beans it wasn’t as smooth but a little olive oil or Sun Butter helps.  I have it in my head to try it with spinach and artichoke at some point soon!  In the version I photographed I doubled the lemon and the beans to make a more substantial portion and added extra garlic so it is truly flexible.  The best recipes give you a new idea in the kitchen that you can experiment with and this is a great example – I would have never considered doing a cooked bean dip before now.

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Arugula-White Bean Dip by Maggie Verderame (photos by Homa Woodrum)

Maggie Verderame is a mother, a yoga teacher, a singer-songwriter, a writer, and a vegetarian home-cook. Through her Kids Do Yoga™ program, Maggie writes the blog, ‘Mindful Mommy Moments’ where she offers observations in yoga with children, mindful parenting, and kid-friendly vegetarian recipes.  Please visit www.Kids-Do-Yoga.com for more information.

Supplies

Cutting board, knife

Food processor or blender

Bowl/sealable container

Ingredients

2-3 Tbs. Olive Oil

1 Large Yellow Onion, coarsely diced

1 tsp Crushed Garlic

5 oz. Fresh Arugula (Trader Joe’s has the best prices as of writing this)

1, 15 oz Can of White Northern / Cannelini Beans, drained and rinsed

Juice of 1/2 a Lemon

Sea Salt

Directions

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low flame/heat.  Add onions and garlic to oil once it is warm and thinning. Cook until softened. Add arugula one handful at a time and toss with the onion mixture to coat with oil. As each handful of arugula wilts, add another and gently toss until all 5 ounces has been cooked down.

Then add the beans and lemon juice. Mix gently until combined and beans are warmed. Turn off heat. Transfer hot bean
mixture to a blender or food processor and puree, adding about 2 more tablespoons of oil as needed to assist with the blending.

Mixture should be thick and creamy, somewhat like hummus. Transfer to a bowl or storage container and add salt to taste.  Cover mixture and let it sit at room temperature for at least a half hour before refrigerating or serving.

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In Maggie’s original recipe she suggests serving the dip as a crostini topper.  If you have an allergen free bread you love, I think it would be great but I served it with potato chips above and below I actually ate some still warm with a lunchtime batch of yukon gold potato hash browns.  I like this photo because you can see R’s little fingers trying to pull the plate to himself.  He also likes to point at the food I’m photographing as if he is showcasing it.

The flavors do develop more the next day but I really like it both fresh and chilled.  Thank you again, Maggie for letting me share this – it is a great recipe for food allergy families for whom beans are safe.  I actually just finished up this particular batch while typing up this post, let me know in the comments if you try this recipe out!

(Shared on the 4/6/12 Allergy Friendly Friday link up at CybelePascal.com, click through for great allergy friendly recipes!)

Tomato Free Black Bean and Green Pepper Salsa Recipe

This is a take on a tomato free salsa my mother in law created for me because I can’t eat tomatoes while I am still nursing R due to his tomato allergy.  I have been having people find my fresh tomato salsa recipe while searching for a “tomato free” version probably because I wrote in that post that I had recently discovered R’s allergy.

Feel free to adjust to your personal taste but remember that this is one of those recipes that really gets better once the flavors have a chance to meld for a few hours.  Do I wait that long to dig in?  No, but that is what doubling recipes is for, isn’t it?

Supplies

Cutting board, knife

Bowl/sealable container (I love lock & locks (amazon affiliate link))

Ingredients

1 cup of diced green pepper (I think red pepper and yellow pepper would look really pretty here, and taste good, but my husband has had reactions to fresh red pepper)

1/2 cup of diced onion

1 cup of rinsed canned black beans (I used the Eden Organic variety that I buy via Amazon (amazon affiliate link) but the cans do arrive dented most of the time so take that into consideration)

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 a fresh large lemon, limes would be tasty here as well)

1-2 teaspoons of fresh minced cilantro

1 teaspoon of agave nectar

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

Salt (start with 1/2 a teaspoon) and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Directions

Rinse your black beans, you won’t use the full can but I am sure there are other uses you can find for some black beans!  Prepare your other ingredients and combine in a bowl, mix and adjust the flavors to taste.  It is a very mild recipe because I serve it to the kids but some chopped up jalepeños would perk this up, or maybe some chipotle peppers?   As I wrote above, you can experiment with other kinds of bell pepper and the like but this is a tasty base.  It is crunchy with a hint of both sweet and sour.  I especially like to eat this with corn free Beanfields Rice and Bean Chips, another reason not to make the salsa too salty is if you plan on eating it with some sort of chip.  The juice at the end of the bowl when the salsa has been consumed is great with those end-of-the-bag chip crumbles mixed in, by the way.  Just eat it with a spoon, which I may or may not be doing as I type this.

In the picture above I served the salsa with Mediterranean Brown Rice Couscous from Lundberg Farms as well as some fried mushrooms, garbanzo beans, onions, garlic, spinach, and spices for a nice spring lunch.  If you try this out, I’d love to hear your thoughts or adjustments!   Also, if you like the flavor and texture mix, try Gena Hamshaw’s Cucumber Guacamole – I have made it without the tomatoes in her recipe and the crunch from the cucumbers is particularly awesome.  Is it time for a picnic yet?

Vegan Split Pea Khoresht Recipe

What do you think of a recipe that begins with making french fries?  You’ll want to make extra to account for the snacking you’ll do while cooking everything else.  In fact, the day I photographed this I made fries with our lunch and prepared the khoresht for dinner.  Khoresht is pretty much a term to encompass anything you’re making as a sauce or stew to serve with rice.  Like  lot of Persian cooking there are many steps but when you are in a food allergy household long cooking times stop being as big of an issue when you’re faced with the prospect of a new(ish) mix of the usual suspects: potatoes and rice.  You can’t sub frozen fries here because I’ve tried, in the interest of shortcuts, and it just wasn’t the same.

See here for how to make Persian Rice (just make the white rice, omit the steps with the lima bean mixture).  You could probably just serve this with your favorite style of rice if you prefer.

Supplies

Measuring cups

Knives, peelers, cutting board

Large pan for frying and large saucepan for the split peas

Bowls

Ingredients

2 cups of dried split peas, rinsed and drained (you can soak these overnight if you like or start them dry)

2 very large russet potatoes (peeled and sliced into fries, soaked in hot tap water in a bowl for 10 minutes, then drained and patted dry)

11 large white mushrooms, sliced (you can use an egg slicer for this, here is my favorite that can handle mushrooms: (amazon affiliate link))

1 1/4 cups canola oil

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 large onion, minced

2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

1 tablespoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

Salt to taste on the fries

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon dried parsley

3 cups of vegetable broth (I use a tomato free version)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

Take your rinsed 2 cups of split peas and put them into 9 cups of boiling water.  You’ll want to skim the foam that comes to the top because you don’t want your pot to boil over.  I believe it is just denatured protein coming off the split peas.  Boil them until they are pretty much falling apart, from dried split peas without soaking this took 45 minutes.  Drain and set aside.  Wipe the pot you used to boil them, you’ll be making the khoresht in that pot.

While your split peas are cooking, prepare your russets for frying (you’ll also want to peel and slice your potatoes for tahdig if you’re making persian rice as mentioned above, you can also rinse and soak your rice right now, it just needs to soak for two hours at a minimum).  Soak them in hot tap water for ten minutes, this is a tip from Cook’s Illustrated to get them crispy when they are cooked.  Drain them and pat them dry.  You’ll want to heat your oil on high and when the oil is hot you’ll add one layer of potatoes.  Watch them, I start with high heat and then adjust one setting lower (on my electric stove) so they don’t burn or cook too quickly.  It takes some practice to get them how you want them.  When they are nicely golden, put them on some paper towels in a dish to cool, add salt while they’re still hot.  A sprinkling will do.  Continue until all your fries are made.

Now, remember the saucepan you wiped down?  Heat it on medium high and swirl your tablespoon of olive oil around, add your minced onion and cook for a few minutes until they are soft.  Now add your garlic and splices (turmeric, paprika, salt, pepper, parsley) and stir to coat.  After a minute or two, add your sliced mushrooms.  I read in Martha Stewart Living that you don’t want to stir mushrooms too much while they cook or they release their juices and don’t brown.  So don’t stir too often but no big deal if you do.  If things get sticky on the bottom of the pan, feel free to deglaze with a bit of water.  Cook on medium now for 5-10 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked.  Add your fries, if you think you’ve made too many, hold off on putting them all in and see how the pan fills with your other ingredients first.  Now add your split peas, broth, and lemon juice, stir and bring to a simmer and adjust the heat so it simmers steadily.  I put a lid slightly off kilter on the pot and reduce to low.  Now let it simmer, stirring from time to time, for 2 hours.  I told you this was a long one!

You can make this the day before and it will be great, an hour before you’re ready to serve, get your rice going (if you’re making persian rice as linked to above) and you’ll see that this sauce gets nice and thick.  I know the pictures make all the beautiful fries look like they are hidden but the flavor is all there and the russets help thicken your sauce.  My mom makes this with dried lemon and tomato in it as well but she helped me adapt this because we’ve been mostly tomato free because of R’s allergy.

Baked Potato Salad Recipe

I am a bit of a potato salad fiend, I have been known in my vegetarian days to eat large quantities of deli potato salad so I have missed it for a while now.  My mother in law took some leftover baked potatoes one day and whipped up a version using ingredients in our fridge that E doesn’t react to and this recipe is a takeoff from her approach.  I think using the russets that have been baked and cooled gives the potatoes the firmness they need for salad but at the same time russets give it a creamy texture that you’ll like.  It does the trick for me when I crave potato salad but feel free to adjust any of the ingredients for the taste you are looking for.  My mom makes an awesome German potato salad that I’ll have to adapt and write out but this is more like what you’ll find at the deli counter of a grocery store.  In the pictures I doubled the recipe using 6 potatoes but I wrote it down for 3 since you may not want to make a ton of it if it is more of a side dish than a main meal.

We love Bubbies‘ products, you can find them at Sunflower Market or Whole Foods in the refrigerated area.  Annie’s Honey Mustard (amazon affiliate link, it is on subscribe and save which means you get 15% off for subscribing to a recurring shipment but you can always cancel and they remind you when it is about to ship anyway so you can check to see if the price is still good) is in both those stores as well.  We can’t use Dijon because of E’s grape allergy and so a lot of gluten free mustards are out also because they usually have corn vinegar.  I posted photos of the labels of both items here along with other recipe photos since sometimes it can be hard to hunt down ingredient lists online.

Supplies

Large Bowl (amazon affiliate link to Pyrex bowls with lids)

Knife, Cutting Board

Ingredients

3 large baked russet potatoes, cooled and stored in the fridge at least overnight, then peeled (E likes to help peel them) and cubed(see here for my baked potato recipe)

3 Kosher dill pickles, diced (we use Bubbies, they don’t use vinegar, just water and spices so they have been safe for us)

3 stalks of celery, minced

1/2 a large white or yellow onion, minced (my husband doesn’t like red onions)

3 tablespoons of fresh packed parsley, chopped

1/4 cup of Honey Mustard

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

Combine all chopped ingredients in the bowl, add liquid ingredients, seasoning (I like things a bit salty so maybe start with half the salt and work your way up), and potatoes.  Mix well, cover and chill in the fridge before serving.  After letting it rest an hour or two, taste and adjust flavors as you like (more crunch needed?  add pickles, etc.).  In the photos I put a little bit of fresh dill from the garden but that can be hard to find and the recipe is fine without it.

The smaller you chop everything, the more flavor you get in each bite but don’t cube the potatoes too small or they’ll fall apart too much.

(Shared today at Cybele Pascal’s Allergy Friendly Friday 05/27/11, check out the other recipes!)

Tomato Onion Salad Recipe

First: Happy Nowruz!  I was going to do some portion of a haft seen this year but I think E is still a little young for a gold fish and I forgot to sprout my lentils in time.

This recipe is something my Aunt made when she visited us so we always called it Auntie S’s salad but when I started dating my husband I gradually started to call it “Tomato Onion Salad” and that has stuck.  It is fairly removed from, but along the same lines as, Salad Shirazi (which I adore but my husband isn’t a cucumber fan so I stick to this version, the link goes to one of my favorite cooking blogs, My Persian Kitchen).

I posted photos of this one here, and I usually serve it with just about everything but especially rice dishes like Lima Bean Rice.  I love the flavor of lemon and this has a very assertive lemony and salty flavor.  For smaller portions depending on the tomatoes and onions you have on hand, just adjust your proportions.  As long as the olive oil and lemon juice start equally you can get it to your suited taste with ease.

Another note, if you use fresh lemon juice the flavor seems to meld better but I do like the assertive lemon taste of bottled lemon juice as well.

Supplies

Bowl

Cutting Board

Knife

Ingredients

3 beefsteak or 6 roma tomatoes

1/2 medium onion

2 teaspoons salt (and to taste)

1/2 teaspoon pepper (and to taste)

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons olive oil (I like first cold pressed)

Directions

Dice the onion finely and put it in the bowl, then do the same with the tomatoes.  Add salt and pepper.  Mix, then add lemon juice and olive oil.  Mix again and taste.  If there is too much lemon for you, add olive oil.  Not enough?  Add lemon juice.  Salt will also tame the lemon taste as well.  I like a lot of it.  Remember that the salt will get some of the water out of the tomatoes and you’ll get more liquid as the salad sits.  This is fine to make ahead but don’t be worried if it looks like a lot of liquid in the bowl when you retrieve it from the fridge.  I drizzle extra olive oil/lemon mixture on my rice when I put the salad on the plate and my siblings and I have been known to drink the last of it from the bowl.

(I posted this to the 4/1/11 Allergy Friendly Friday on Cybele Pascal’s site because the call was for spring recipes and I posted this for Nowruz, there are already some great recipes up there, take a look!)