Roasted Eggplant Dip

Roasted Eggplant Dip

Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables, especially when it’s roasted. It’s simple to make and I love the deep, nutty flavor. My favorite part of roasted eggplant is when some of the edges have caramelized and the middles of the eggplant pieces are creamy. When this happens, I have to stop myself from eating it with my hands as it comes out of the oven.

I usually roast one each week and use it as a side for almost any dinner during the week. But last Sunday, eggplant roasting took a backseat to Super Bowl (commercials) viewing. And a few days later my eggplant was a little close to being overripe, which is how this delicious dip came about.

Roasted Eggplant Dip

Ingredients

  • One medium eggplant
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro
  • Salt and pepper
  • za’atar, a pinch for garnish, optional
  • Pita bread or crackers to serve with dip

Prepare

Preheat oven to 350°F. Wash and dry the eggplant. Cut into uniform, ½-inch pieces. Place in a large bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add salt, pepper, and cumin seeds. Toss or use your hands to mix and ensure all pieces are evenly seasoned.

Place on a baking sheet and roast for about 35-40 minutes or until the eggplant is lightly brown and soft. Allow the eggplant to cool slightly so you can safely work with it, about 15 minutes.

Place cooled eggplant in a large food processor. Add the chopped garlic, lemon juice, Greek yogurt, the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse 3 or 4 times to blend, being careful to avoid over mixing.

 Place dip in a serving bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, garnish with a pinch of za’atar and chopped cilantro. Serve with toasted pita bread or crackers.

Basil Shrimp Stir Fry

Basil Shrimp Stir Fry

I’ve been working on eating a little healthier these days.  Nothing crazy, just more clean, whole foods and less ingredients I can’t pronounce. (Sounds like a good filter for grocery shopping, no? Only buying items with ingredients that I know. Maybe I’ll try it one day I’m feeling extra disciplined and can talk myself into detouring the bakery section).

Anyway, here’s today’s recipe: Basil Shrimp Stir Fry. This dish is very simple. The key is to have all the ingredients prepped because the actual cooking goes pretty quickly.

To start, I chopped some of my favorite vegetables into pieces that were roughly the same size so everything cooked at the same rate. I used red bell pepper, cremini mushrooms, haricots verts, carrots, broccoli, and one jalapeño.

Stir Fry Veggies

After all the chopping and prep, the veggies looked so good that I seriously considered abandoning my stir fry plans and just making a simple vinaigrette and calling it a salad. Maybe next time.

Stir Fry Veggies.

Once I decided to continue with the stir fry, I heated some olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat and added two cloves of chopped garlic, one tablespoon of basil chiffonade, and one pound of peeled and deveined shrimp. I sautéed the shrimp for about 2 minutes until they became opaque and then removed them from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, I added a little more olive oil and increased the heat to high. When the oil was almost smoking, I added the bell pepper, carrots, and haricots verts. I cooked these for about 45 seconds and then pushed everything to the edges of the pan. Then, I added the broccoli, mushrooms, and the jalapeño and cooked for another minute or so.

I seasoned with salt and pepper and then added the shrimp back in. I cooked until everything was heated through, about a minute more and then plated the stir fry.

Basil Shrimp Stir Fry.

Tandoori Salmon and Purple Beans

Tandoori Salmon
I know you’re probably thinking, “Those beans aren’t purple, what kind of a food blogger would trick her readers like that?” I confess that it is a trick, but not one of mine. You see, the beans in the picture above started life as purple and then had a little costume change. Let me explain…

I saw these colorful beans at the farmers’ market last week and I couldn’t resist the purple ones. Mostly because of the vibrant hue, but also because I’ve read that purple vegetables have lots of antioxidants and I’m sure I can use more of those to balance all the non-purple food I eat.

Purple Beans

Anyway, I wanted to make tandoori salmon (yogurt-and-spice-marinated salmon) for dinner and mentally added these as the perfect side.

Fast forward to Saturday night’s dinner prep and, much to my dismay, the beautiful purple color changed as soon as they hit the hot water and my special beans turned into plain old green beans.

I consulted my good friend Google and found that purple beans are just green beans in disguise. The purple pigment is stored only in the outer layer of the beans and changes to green once heat is applied. Disappointing, yes, but still tasty.

Now, on to the recipe for the Tandoori Salmon.

Tandoori Salmon (Yogurt-and-Spice-Marinated Salmon), Recipe adapted from Saveur

Ingredients

2 salmon filets (I used the ones with the skin-on)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1  small piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 Tbs canola oil
1 Tbs red chili powder
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
1 tsp cardamom seeds, toasted
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garam masala
1 cup plain yogurt
Salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare

Place yogurt in a medium bowl. Add all spices, ginger, garlic and oil to yogurt. Mix to combine and season with salt. Pour mixture over salmon filets and use a rubber spatula or your hands to gently massage into flesh. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour and up to four hours.

Heat oven to 350 °F. Uncover salmon and remove any excess marinade. Bake until fish is cooked through, skin is opaque, and flakes easily or until internal temperature reads 145 °F. For my filets, this took about 35-40 minutes.

You can also make a raita to serve alongside the salmon. Raita is a Pakistani and Indian sauce or dip that has yogurt as a base and includes various spices, herbs, and finely chopped vegetables. There are many variations of raita that can include different spices like cumin, garam masala, and cayenne and many types of vegetables like cucumbers, red onion, and tomatoes.

A very simple raita recipe to use with this dish includes plain yogurt, garam masala, chopped cucumbers, chopped cilantro, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and serve along with salmon.

Summer Herbs

Summer Herbs

A friend of mine has a large herb and vegetable garden and was generous enough to share some of his harvest with me.

He brought me about 10 bunches of different herbs including Thai basil, mint, chives, oregano, thyme, sage, lemon basil, dill, bay laurel, and parsley. Needless to say, my kitchen smells amazing.

I know I won’t be able to use all of these herbs within a week or 10 days so I need to store them properly. I can always dry them, but I wanted to find other ways to store them for future use.

So, what to do with all of these beautiful herbs?

Summer Herbs.

I perused my favorite site for some (p)inspiration and listed some my top picks below. I can’t wait to try some of these recipes!

 Herb Salts

Fragrant Dried Herb Salts by Spoon With Me

Variety of Herb Salts

Credit: Spoon With Me
































Hand-chopped Garlic Herb Salt by Saveur

Herb Salt

Credit: Nicole Franzen

Compound Herb Butter

Compound Butters by Saffron Lane

Compound Herb Butter

Credit: Saffron Lane

Fresh Herb Butter by Lavender Fields Farms

Fresh Herb Butter

Credit: Lavender Fields Farm

Herb Infused Olive Oil

Rosemary Infused Olive Oil by Miss Buttercup

Rosemary Infused Olive Oil

Credit: Miss Buttercup

Freeze Herbs in Olive Oil

Preserve Fresh Herbs in Olive Oil by The Kitchn

Freeze Herbs in Olive Oil

Credit: The Kitchn

Herb Ice

Herb Ice by Not Without Salt

Herb Ice

Credit: Not Without Salt

Spinach, Goat Cheese and Herb Tart

Spinach, Goat Cheese & Herb Tart

The recipe for this tart is a bit further in the post. First, I’d like to share a little story of exactly how this tart came to be.

Last November I took a cooking class at our local Sur la Table that featured appetizers for holiday parties. I learned the details of palmiers and have been making them ever since. They are so simple to make and are an elegant appetizer for any party or dinner.

Here’s a peek at my very first batch. I made these Portobello & Parmesan Palmiers for our appetizer table before Thanksgiving dinner last year.

Parmesan & Portobello Palmiers

Anyway, I had a little get together for the 4th of July and wanted to make these again. I already had the Parmesan and portobellos, so when I was doing my shopping for the menu I quickly grabbed a few boxes of puff pastry and moved on to the next item on my list.

On the day of the party, the palmiers were the last item left to make because I like to serve them fresh out of the oven. Only when I opened the first box of (what I thought was) puff pastry did I realize that I had grabbed phyllo sheets instead of puff pastry.

I had a sinking feeling these two are not interchangeable in a recipe for palmiers and a quick Internet search confirmed this. Needless to say, I did not serve Parmesan & Portobello Palmiers that day.

The four boxes of phyllo dough left in my freezer inspired today’s recipe (and will probably inspire a few more to come).

Spinach, Goat Cheese and Herb Tart
Adapted from the NY Times recipe Goat Cheese, Chard and Herb Pie in a Phyllo Crust

Ingredients
1 large bunch spinach
8 oz. goat cheese
¾ cup milk
3 eggs
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
10 sheets phyllo
½ cup chopped fresh herbs – I used chives, dill, and a little oregano
Olive oil or melted butter
Salt and pepper

Prepare
Preheat the oven to 350°.

Thoroughly wash and drain the spinach. I like to wash mine two or three times. Seriously, there is nothing worse than gritty spinach.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt and then the spinach and blanch for about 1 to 2 minutes. Meanwhile, set up an ice bath with cold water and some ice cubes in a large bowl. Transfer the spinach to the ice bath to stop it from continuing to cook. Once it’s cool, squeeze out the excess water. I like to use a clean tea towel for this. Chop the spinach.

Add the eggs and goat cheese to a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, blend until the mixture is smooth. Add the milk, chopped garlic cloves, herbs, and drained spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly to combine.

Butter a tart or pie pan. Carefully unfold the phyllo dough and take out 10 sheets. Immediately refold the remaining phyllo and refrigerate or freeze. Keep a few damp paper towels nearby to keep the phyllo sheets from drying out. Using one sheet at a time, carefully line the pan with the phyllo. Brush each layer with melted butter or oil before adding the next sheet.

I placed each sheet at an angle and allowed the edge to stand up above the pan’s rim. If you have a lot of dough hanging off the rim you can scrunch it down, but it won’t look as pretty when it bakes.

Once your crust is done, add the spinach mixture and use a spatula to make the top even. Before placing in the oven, fold small pieces of aluminum foil and carefully cover the phyllo edge to keep it from burning. Be very careful not to tear the edges of the phyllo.

Pop in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until the middle is set. Uncover the phyllo in the last 5 to 10 minutes of baking to allow the edges to become golden brown.

Spinach, Goat Cheese, and Herb Tart