Spiced Eggplant and Bulgur Salad

So I’m hoping this list of semi-unusual ingredients and ingredients that need some sort of Eggplan, Bulgur, Salad, Vegetarianchopping or toasting won’t completely steer you away from trying this recipe. The recipe below is an adaptation from another recipe (link below), and since I found it, it is my go-to for cooking eggplant, one of my favorite treats in the summer. And please resist the urge to roll on the ground laughing if you knew me as a kid when I wouldn’t eat vegetables, let alone an eggplant. And for the girl whose least favorite thing on this planet is to chop herbs (I realize how random this is), the fact I will willingly chop herbs for this salad speaks to the deliciousness factor. The salty olives, the sweet tomatoes and meaty eggplant are a divine combination.

ImageAnd now that Hugo has become a little more manageable, I actually have time to pour myself a glass of wine and make a dinner that doesn’t require me throwing down whatever I’m doing to stop the dog from whatever he’s doing. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love this dog. He’s so sweet and so much fun to have around. And I know how biased I am, but he is beyond smart. I knew when Miguel and I got Hugo that it would be a change, but I didn’t realized how much of a change it would be. But we’re starting to find our new normal, something I wasn’t sure we’d find in the first few days (read weeks) we had him. I guess it’s like when people have kids, and they say you can’t imagine what it’s like until you have one. I guess the same has been true for us with Hugo, you don’t know what it’s like to have a toddler with a hammer in your house, until said toddler is trying to get through the TV cabinet to the puppy in the window (HIS REFLECTION).

Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit

  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped preserved lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut in to 1” pieces
  • 1.5 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1/2 cup black lentils
  • 3 cups water, divided
  • 1/2 cup currants
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped kalmata olives
  • 1/2 large red onion, finely chopped
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400˚. In a small bowl, combine preserved lemon and next 7 ingredients. Whisk well with a fork. Place your chopped vegetables in a 9 x 13 baking dish lined with parchment paper and coat the vegetables evenly with your spice mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are staring to brown and the eggplant is pieced easily with a fork, but still has a bit of texture to it.

While the eggplant and tomatoes cook, cook the lentils by bringing 1.5 cups water to a boil. When you reach a rolling boil, add the lentils, cover, turn the heat to medium-low and cook until the lentils are tender, about 15 minutes. When tender, drain in to a colander, rinse with cool water and set aside to cool.

Set a kettle of water to boil and place the bulgur in a heat-proof bowl. When the water has boiled, use a measuring cup to pour 1 1/2 cup water over the bulgur. Cover and set aside for about 30 minutes, until the bulgur has softened and absorbed all the water.

Place your remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add your cooled lentils, bulgur and roasted vegetables. Stir well. You may need to add a couple glugs of olive oil to moisten up the bulgur, I used my favorite meyer lemon olive oil. Add salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste.

Spinach, Lentil & Feta Phyllo Mini Pies

I love to eat seasonally. There is the hippie factor that your produce has less distance Spinach, Lentil & Feta Phyllo Mini Piesto travel when it’s in season, but produce tastes its best when it’s eaten during its intended season. A ripe peach in July immediately reminds me of warm summer days and baseball games. The first bite of butternut squash in the fall conjures images of crisp, falling leaves, a fire in the fire place, and, of course, football. (There may be a sports-related theme here, I’m a sports nut if you didn’t already get that.)

The winter can get a little more tricky when it comes to eating seasonal produce. Lots of broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, chard, chard, and did I say chard? Basically, things that are in season all year but to me have become “winter food”. And I have to get a little bit creative, which is were this recipe comes in.

Jaime Oliver is one of my favorite chefs. He has an easy going style that I try to emulate. His recipes often don’t have exact measurements nor do they have exact cooking times. Cooking isn’t exact, and it doesn’t have to be. Most of the time, if you add a little bit extra of this or that, things are going to turn out just fine. I was given his cookbook, Meals in Minutes, and it contains recipes for full meals: an entrée, a side and dessert and, for they most part, they’re pretty healthy. And they really do only take minutes! This recipe was inspired from his book. My recipe may seem a little complicated but it truly does come together in about 20-30 minutes.

  • 1/2 lb spinach
  • 3 egg whites (you can use 3 full eggs if you like things a little more egg-y)
  • 2/3 c toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 c black lentils (about 1 cup dry lentils)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 6 oz crumbled feta
  • 2 oz grated gruyere
  • 1 roll whole wheat phyllo dough* (If you can’t fine whole wheat phyllo, non-whole wheat works just fine.)

*Phyllo dough are paper-thin sheets made from unleavened flour. You’ll find it in the freezer section, and when defrosted it is actually quite easy to work with. Just make sure you leave it out to defrost for a few hours before you need to work with it. If it isn’t totally defrosted, you’ll want to throw it against a wall (I may have learned that the hard way). The roll I buy measures 13” x 18”. I cut the large sheets in to to quarters to make sheets that are about 6.5” x 9”.

Preheat the oven to 400˚.

Bring a medium sauté pan to medium heat with a couple glugs of olive oil. When the pan is warm, wilt the spinach for about 10 minutes. When the spinach is good and wilted, tip in to a medium bowl and set aside. While the spinach wilts, toast your pine nuts.

Rinse the black lentils with cool water. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Spinach, Lentil and Feta Phyllo Mini PiesAdd the lentils, cover, reduce the heat to low, and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are soft but still have a slight crunch. Rinse with cool water, and add to the bowl with your wilted spinach.

Add the toasted pine nuts, lemon zest, feta, gruyere, dried oregano and egg whites to the bowl with your spinach and lentils. Mix well. Feta is very salty so I wouldn’t add extra salt here, but you can if you like more salt.

Each mini pies uses 3 thin sheets of phyllo. Place the phyllo sheets over the middle of one well of your 12 cup muffin pan. Gently press the phyllo down in to the well, but you don’t need to be exact as the filling will press the phyllo in to place. Add enough spinach, lentil & feta mixture to fill to the top of the well. Fold the corners of the phyllo dough over the filling. You really can fold the phyllo however you’d like, all that matters is the filling is covered. Once all 12 mini pies are assembled, brush the top with olive oil. Cook in your 400˚ oven for 20 minutes, or until the tops of the mini pies are golden brown.

I paired this meal with a salad of beets, carrots and arugula with an orange-miso dressing. I was really excited how it turned out, so I will post the recipe later on today.

Black Bean, Cauliflower and Pickled Red Onion Enchiladas

TVegetarian Enchiladas, cauliflower, black beanshere is a restaurant near where I live, Avatar’s, that specializes in Indian Mexican food. Or is it Mexican Indian food? For example: curried lamb and eggplant enchiladas. Mind blowing amazingness. As you can imagine, this restaurant has made me rethink the way one is supposed to handle ethnic cuisines.

And that is where my recipe comes in. My husband and I were on our way back from Tahoe where we were eating the exact opposite of how eat when we’re home: at a restaurant for every meal. I wanted to make something healthy, but also something that tasted rich so enchiladas seemed like the logical choice. But I took my inspiration from Avatar’s to do a less traditional enchilada and decided to use cauliflower to fill them. A little bit of goat cheese gives the enchiladas a rich tanginess, and some black beans for protein. I had made two trays intending one tray go in to the freezer for some late evening when we couldn’t cook, but the husband pillaged the other tray before they could make it that far!

Enchilada Sauce:

  • 26 oz crushed tomatoes (I actually use Pomi strained tomatoes because I love the texture but crushed tomatoes work if that’s all that is available. You might just have to let it reduce longer.)
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic diced
  • 1 tbsp Adobo sauce
  • 1 tsp dried or fresh oregano

Filling:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower chopped into 1/2” pieces
  • 15 oz can of black beans
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 cup goat cheese
  • 1 cup picked red onions (recipe below)
  • 1 small bunch cilantro finely chopped

10 Corn Tortillas & Avocado for topping

Pickled Red Onion (adapted from Rick Bayless): Thinly slice 1 red onion. Bring a small pot of water to boil and blanch the onion for 1 minute. Rinse in cold water. Return the rinsed red onion to the pot, add 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar (red wine vinegar might be good too) and cover the onions with cool water. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let stand until cooled. The onions will be bright pink. Once cooled, finely chop about 1 cup of the onions and set aside the rest.

Preheat the oven to 400˚. Put the chopped cauliflower in a 9 x 13 roasting pan and coat with a few glugs of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is soft and the edges are beginning to brown.

While the cauliflower does its thing, put a couple of glugs of olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed (or strained) tomatoes, Adobo sauce and oregano. Bring to a simmer and allow to reduce for about 20 minutes. One reduced, season with salt and pepper and use an immersion blender to pureé (Alternatively, you could use a blender).

While the enchilada sauce reduces, bring a small sauté pan to medium heat. Toast the tortillas for about 1-2 minutes per side until starting to brown slightly. This step is totally skip-able if you don’t have time—or just plain don’t feel like it—but it definitely adds nice texture and color to the dish.

Once the cauliflower is done cooking, transfer to a large bowl, and add the can of black beans, cumin, goat cheese, chopped pickled red onion and cilantro. Combine well.

Place 1 cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 roasting pan. Fill each enchiladas with about 1/3 c filling, roll, and place seam side down in the pan. Cover the enchiladas with about 1 cup of sauce, and as much goat cheese as you’d like. Cook the enchiladas in the 400˚ oven for about 20 minutes.

Serve with a few pickled onions and sliced avocado on top! Yum.