eggplant

Entrée, Side, Gluten Free, Summer

GRILLED EGGPLANT WITH HERBED QUINOA

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I'm not even sure where to start with the sentiments on this one, because the past week or two has sort of taken me under. I am not necessarily overwhelmed by way of responsibilities, but by emotion. I feel thrilled that the book is out next week, anxious about the feedback, excited to cheers with family and friends, insecure about my work, incredibly grateful for friends sharing recipes and compliments, timid in self-promotion, scared of speaking in front of people... it just feels like... a lot. That's all I can really say. I'm going to keep it short because honestly I'm not sure how to process all this quite yet. I've always been one to really feel things - to get swept up in emotion and feel like my heart has no callus on it. So maybe you can imagine why this season of cookbook release time feels like "a lot."

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I included a number of links on the book page of friends who've so graciously posted recipes from the book. I am truly humbled. So many people who I admire are cooking my foods. I think that's crazy. I will be adding to that list, so you can keep up there if you wish. I updated the dates of events as well and would love to see your faces! Hoping this will be the last book related post out of me, I know I've mentioned it quite a bit :)

There isn't a lot of free time at the moment but I wanted to share a simple dish that seems to fit in with the pace lately. It's not fussy, tastes light while still having enough flavor to remind you that vegetables are just magnificent.

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GRILLED EGGPLANT WITH HERBED QUINOA // Serves 6 as a side

I've been a big fan of the eggplant and za'atar combination since this pizza. If you don't have any, some dried thyme or a bit of oregano would be nice as well. The sumac in za'atar gives just a bit of smokiness that compliments the grilled flavor. You could use millet or another whole grain if you have something else on hand. The following gives you more eggplant to quinoa ratio, if you prefer it the other way, simply double the quinoa salad instructions.

  • 3-4 medium eggplants (maybe 2 larger ones, 4 smaller ones)
  • sea salt
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • za'atar seasoning
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • half of a small red onion, sliced thin
  • generous handful each of fresh basil, dill and cilantro
    2 Tbsp. capers, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. honey or agave nectar
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
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Cut the eggplants into 1 1/2'' rounds. Sprinkle with salt and set aside for 30 minutes to release water.

Add the quinoa to a pot with a pinch of salt and 3/4 cup water or stock. Bring it to a gentle boil, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, fluff with a fork, cover again and leave it to steam another 5 minutes.

Heat up your grill or grill pan (I LOVE this. Obsessed). Press the eggplants between a dishcloth or paper towels to absorb the excess moisture. Brush both sides with olive oil and grill for about 5 minutes per sides until you get nice dark marks and the texture seems pretty soft throughout. I like the softer texture that comes with covering them. Remove to a plate, drizzle a bit more olive oil and sprinkle with za'atar to taste.

To finish the quinoa, toss in the onions, all of the herbs, oil, vinegar, honey or agave and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to mix. Taste and adjust as you like.

Put the eggplants on a plate, top with the quinoa and garnish with the toasted pinenuts.

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Appetizer, Entrée, Snack, Summer

ROASTED EGGPLANT + ZA'ATAR PIZZA

I have three more months until my final manuscript is due for the cookbook, and to be honest with you, I've been a bit paralyzed in creativity. I know that process ebbs and flows, but when it comes to having a due date, I need a bit less ebb-ing and more flowing these days. I've kept a pretty good pace so far, a few bad calls (did you know that roasted pluots are, without question, too tart to eat? who knew?!), but I'm really happy with what we have so far. Now, about that last 30% of the content...

The thought of this combination had me quite excited yesterday, a little something different to throw on on your pizza. I would have hoarded this recipe for the book, but I have something similar in there already, so I can share the tastiness now as opposed to over a year from now ;)

I'm fairly new to using za'atar, and have come to love its unique acidity from the sumac, the ever familiar dried thyme and a bit of nutty crunch from the sesame seeds. You can buy it at spice shops, online, middle eastern grocery stores or Sarah at My New Roots has a recipe to make your own. It's great on top of hummus, used in a marinade, on grilled vegetables, etc.

ROASTED EGGPLANT + ZA'ATAR PIZZA // Serves 2-4

I give cheese measurements, but you can use your discretion depending on how you like your pizza, and how many vegetables you throw on there. The melty cheese is necessary in combination with the feta. The feta provides saltiness and flavor, but the mozzarella makes it a pizza.

I've given directions for baking, but you could just as easily do this on the grill if you don't want to turn on the oven. You can alternatively saute the eggplants, instead of roasting.

Tahini Spread

3 Tbsp. Tahini

1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice

1 Clove Garlic, minced

Pinch of Salt + Pepper

1 Eggplant

2 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Generous Pinch of Dried Oregano

1 Small Yellow Onion, halved and sliced

Whole Grain Pizza Crust (This recipe gives you two crusts. You can also buy a fresh dough ball from your local pizza place for convenience)

3/4 Cup Shredded Mozzarella

1 Tbsp. Za'atar

1/3 Cup Crumbled Feta

Fresh Thyme Leaves

Salt + Pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 500'. Mix all of the tahini spread ingredients together in a bowl, set aside.

2. Peel the eggplant (doesn't have to be perfect) and cut it in to small pieces. Drizzle it with the olive oil, generous pinch of salt and dried oregano. Toss to coat. Spread it on a baking sheet and roast it for 15-20 minutes. Note, you could also throw the onions on there to streamline the recipes, but I like to do it in a cast iron to really char those babies.

3. To char the onions, heat a pan over medium high heat with a dash of oil (I like to use cast iron here), add the onions and char them for about 10-15 minutes, tossing them around occasionally . The point is to cook them on high heat, without a lot of moisture, to char the sides, as opposed to caramelizing them.

4. Roll out your crust and put it on a floured/cornmeal sprinkled baking sheet. Spread the tahini spread across the surface, sprinkle the mozzarella, the eggplant chunks and charred onions, the za'atar, and the crumbled feta. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top, and baking the pizza for 12-15 minutes until the edges crisp up. Garnish the top with a generous sprinkle of the fresh thyme leaves.

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