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Baba Ghanouj

22 Aug

Baba ghanouj is incredibly easy, incredibly delicious, and almost unbelievably healthy.  It’s so easy to roast up an eggplant and throw it in the food processor with a few ingredients, but it yields an explosion of flavor.  Though it’s possible to switch up the flavor of baba ghanouj by adding cumin or other spices, I decided to leave this as simple as possible.  It really allowed the flavor of the roasted eggplant and fresh parsley to shine.

Classes start again this afternoon so I was looking for something yummy but healthy to snack on this week while studying, and this is absolutely perfect for that.  Since I’m taking a couple of classes held in the evening this year, my schedule is going to be a little different than I’m used to.  I’m hoping I can fall into a good cooking groove quickly.  My current plan is to use Sunday afternoons to cook up a few snacks or meals that can be utilized throughout the week, such as dips like this baba ghanouj, casseroles, pasta sauces, and fixings for slow cooker meals.  We’ll see how it goes.

Baba Ghanouj

1 large eggplant, halved lengthwise

2 tbs. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley

2 tbs. tahini sauce

1 lemon, juiced

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Homemade naan, for serving

Preheat oven to 350º.

Poke each half of eggplant a few times with a fork.  Rub flesh side of egg plant with olive oil and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Place flesh side down on a tinfoil lined baking sheet.  Bake 40-50 minutes until very tender.  You should be able to easily insert a paring knife and the skin should be wrinkled.

Remove from oven and let cool until cool enough to handle.  Scoop out flesh into a colander and let excess liquid drain from the eggplant.

Place garlic, parsley, tahini, and lemon juice in the food processor.  Pulse a few times to chop garlic and parsley.  Add eggplant and pulse 10-15 times in one second bursts until mostly smooth.

Refrigerate for a few hours to allow flavors to meld.  Serve garnished with parsley and naan for dipping.

Warm Chickpea Salad with Yogurt Dressing (Deconstructed Falafel)

2 Apr

Do you ever have an irresistible craving for a dish you just don’t have the time or energy to make?  It’s a problem I have quite frequently.  Yesterday, after a long week of studying, I was craving some falafel.  However, I didn’t feel like mucking up the food processor and frying falafel.  I decided to simplify the process by caramelizing some onions and garlic combining them with chickpeas, spinach, and cilantro and tossing it with a lemon and yogurt dressing and some toasted pita.  I topped the whole thing with a runny fried egg to mimic the binder used in traditional falafel.  I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but I figured it’s pretty hard to make chickpeas taste bad.

And, let me just tell you – wow!  This simple dish had all of the flavors of a traditional falafel sandwich with less of the work.  It was amazing how something that looked so different than a falafel sandwich could taste so much like one.  I think the caramelization of the onions is what really knocked this dish out of the park – it added the depth of flavor that you would normally get from frying the falafel as well as a hint of sweetness that made the other flavors shine.  This is going to be my go-to dish, especially since we almost always have the required ingredients hanging out around our place.

Warm Chickpea Salad with Yogurt Dressing (Deconstructed Falafel)

Warm Chickpea Salad:

2 tbs. olive oil, divided

1 small onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. sumac

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup frozen chopped spinach, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

1 small pita, toasted

1 egg

In a 10″ cast iron skillet, heat 1 tbs. olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook over low heat until onions are caramelized, roughly 30 minutes.  Add chickpeas and toss to combine with onions.  Season with cumin, coriander, sumac, and crushed red pepper flakes.  Add chopped spinach and cilantro and toss to combine.  Tear up pita into small pieces and add to chickpea mixture.  Cook, 3-5 minutes, until heated through.

Meanwhile, heat remaining tbs. of olive oil in a small non-stick sauté pan.  Fry an egg until over easy or desired consistency.

Serve warm chickpea salad topped with egg and yogurt sauce.

Yogurt Sauce:

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 lemon, juiced

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Gently whisk together ingredients.  Serve over warm chickpea salad.

Mujaddara with Spiced Yogurt

13 Mar

The recipe for this dish caught my eye  last week at Food52 and I’ve been thinking of it ever since.  I’m always looking for new vegetarian dishes I haven’t tried, especially one that reheats well, since I pack my lunch 4 days a week.  I changed this up from the original recipe just a bit by adding to the last of my green lentils some pearled barely for a bit of variation in texture and added protein and fiber.  I think it added a really nice element to this dish.  I served this with some toasted 10-grain walnut bread that Zak made, though it would be divine with naan or without bread entirely.  We both ended up eating the all of the mujaddara and not finishing our bread – so for what it’s worth, I vote for completely bread-less.

I could not get enough of this dish.  If the rumors are true and it improves over time, I’m going to be blown away with the leftovers over the next couple of days.  The sweetness from the caramelized onions against the slight bitterness of the char on the onions worked beautifully with the fragrant jasmine rice, earthy, rich lentils, and bite of the pearled barley.  The slightly spicy, creamy coolness of the yogurt with mint was a great foil to the lentils and onions.  Finally, I really enjoyed the crust that formed as a result of popping this in the oven to reheat.  It made the dish bibimbap-esque and added an extra variation in texture that really worked well.

Mujaddara with Spiced Yogurt

Adapted from Food52


1/4 cup green lentils

1/4 cup pearled barley

1 cup jasmine rice

1 tbs. Brummel & Brown

2 tbs. olive oil

2 small yellow onions, very thinly sliced (about 1/8″)

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Bring lentils, pearled barley, 4 cups water, and kosher salt to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer until lentils and barley are soft but not mushy, about 45 minutes.  Drain and set aside and rinse out pot.

Add rice, kosher salt, and 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil.  Simmer 15 minutes until rice is cooked through.

While rice cooks, heat a 10″ cast iron skillet over medium-low heat.  Add butter and 2 tbs. olive oil.  When butter is melted, add onions and toss to coat with butter and oil.  Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Once onions are translucent (after 6-8 minutes), raise heat to medium and cook 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are light golden brown and soft. Raise heat to medium-high and cook another 3-4 minutes until onions are crisped and slightly blackened around the edges.

Combine rice, lentils, barley, onions and half of spiced yogurt (see below) in a large serving bowl and mix thoroughly to combine.  Transfer back to  cast iron pan and spread into an even layer.  Let sit at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 275º.

Add cast iron pan filled with rice and lentil mixture and heat 15-20 minutes until heated through and a light crust forms on the bottom of the pan.

Serve with remaining spiced yogurt and a slice of toast.

Spiced Yogurt:

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. mace

1/2 tsp. paprika

3 tbs. fresh mint, finely chopped

1/2 lemon, zest and juice

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Whisk together all ingredients and let chill in refrigerator at least one hour and up to 48 hours.

Roasted Garlic Hummus

23 Dec

Looking for a super easy holiday appetizer?  You might want to consider hummus.  It can be made with items found in almost any pantry, with the exception of the tahini paste (and that is carried at your local grocer).  You can leave the tahini paste out or substitute with a teaspoon or so of toasted sesame seeds.  If you can work a food processor or blender, you can make hummus … but I’ve found, over the years, people are really impressed by it because they think it’s super exotic and thus complicated.  Win-win.

Roasted Garlic Hummus

1 19 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, liquid reserved

1 head garlic

5 tbs. olive oil, divided

2 tbs. tahini paste

1 lemon, juiced

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

A few sprigs fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

Serve with toasted pita triangles, soft pita triangles, 1″ sections of celery, baby carrots, or anything else that sounds good to you

Preheat oven to 400º.

Cut top 1/4″ inch off of garlic head to barely expose the cloves.  Drizzle with 1 tbs. olive oil and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Wrap tightly in a piece of tinfoil and place in oven.  Roast 35-45 minutes until exposed garlic cloves are a deep golden brown and very soft to the touch.

Carefully remove garlic from tinfoil wrapping – watch out, some steam will escape.  Reserve any olive oil trapped in the tinfoil.  Allow garlic to cool enough to handle, about ten minutes.  Remove garlic cloves from peel by squeezing at the base of each clove.

Place chickpeas, roasted garlic, lemon juice, and tahini paste in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.  If necessary, scrape down sides of food processor.  With machine running, slowly add olive oil (include any reserved garlic-infused olive oil) until hummus is creamy.  If necessary, add reserved chickpea liquid with machine running to acquire desired consistency.

Using the back of a large spoon, make a depression in the center of the hummus and fill with a tbs. or so of olive oil.  Garnish with a few sprigs of parsley.

Falafel Lettuce Wraps

2 Dec

I was looking for a way besides a salad to use up the remainder of the copious romaine lettuce from our CSA.  Since we hadn’t had falafel in a while, I settled on a nice and easy falafel wrap.  This meal was quick, tasty, and absolutely delicious.  I really liked the romaine lettuce as opposed to the more traditional iceberg lettuce usually used in lettuce wraps.  It had a bigger punch of flavor, but the crispy ribs still gave a really satisfying crunch.

Falafel Lettuce Wraps


Adapted from

1/2 15 oz. cans chickpeas, drained, reserving liquid, and rinsed well

1/3 cup white onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 whole marinated garlic cloves, finely minced

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 tbs. dried parsley, chopped

1 cup bread crumbs, divided

1 egg, beaten

2 tbs. canola oil

In a food processor, add chickpeas.  While slowly adding roughly 1/4 cup of reserved chickpea liquid, process the chickpea mixture until smooth.  It may be necessary to scrape down the sides of your food processor a few times or add additional reserved liquid or water to achieve a nearly smooth texture.  The final result should not be watery.  It should be firm to the touch and easy to roll into ball form.  Transfer to a large bowl.

Add red onion, red pepper flakes, garlic, parsley, 1/2 cup bread crumbs and kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Mix well.  Roll into 8-10 tubes of 1″ diameter.

Place remaining 1/2 cup of bread crumbs on a large dish.  In another large bowl, add beaten egg.  Coat each patty in egg and then bread crumbs.

Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add tubes, working in batches if necessary, and cook until golden brown on each side (roughly 3-4 minutes per side).  Add more canola oil as necessary.  Drain on paper towels and serve immediately alongside following ingredients.

Tahini Dressing:

3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 tbs. tahini paste

2 tsp. ground turmeric

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Lettuce Wrap:

1 head romaine lettuce, rinsed and drained

1 medium carrot, cut into thin sticks

2 small radishes, thinly sliced in half moons

5-6 large black olives, thinly sliced

1/3 cup white onion, finely diced

Serve all ingredients separately and allow your guests to assemble to taste.

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