Friday, August 10, 2012
for the past eight months,
we've been pretty careful about
everything that we've been eating,
and in turn, everything that we're
cooking. but, here's the thing:
i'm a food person. i will not survive
on grilled chicken breast and steamed
broccoli. i cannot.
i would be bored.
i would be annoyed.
i would miss the fun that comes
with discovering a new ingredient
or the joy that comes with making
something that's really special to eat.
so that broccoli? it's roasted.
and that chicken? well, it's hardly ever
on my plate because frankly, i think it's obvious
if you read this blog that i'm not too into chicken.
i've been extremely strategic in preparing food that's
that tastes good,
that we might actually look forward to eating.
and for the most part, it's worked.
but, here's the other thing:
our dinners have started to seriously resemble each other.
most nights, we eat a salad -
usually with arugula at the base,
sometimes baby kale,
often topped with beans or lentils,
or seasonal fruit. they are good hearty salads -
the kind that i would be quick to order in
a restaurant, not because they're better for me,
but because they look most desirable on a menu:
grilled scallops with peas and feta,
lentils with roasted sweet potatoes and goat cheese,
sardines with chickpeas, tomatoes and peppadews,
grilled shrimp and fill-in-the-blank with whatever's in the fridge.
oh, the shrimp.
there have been a lot of shrimp.
between larry's love for steak and chicken,
and my dislike, combined with my ability to be happy eating mostly vegetables,
shrimp is a good compromise.
so, i'm always searching the grocery store aisles
for new inspiration and the magazines for new recipes.
we've had some hits,
like roasted fish with tomatoes and olives,
a (very) modified version of our favorite quesadilla
and spicy korean tofu soup,
but none felt quite as inspired as this
falafel-stuffed eggplant with tahini sauce and tomato relish
from a spring issue of
something about the recipe made me feel
like it was a real recipe, genuinely conceptualized
and created with an end result in mind.
i didn't have to make it to know that it would work,
but with one bite, i was glad that my
suspicions were confirmed.
i won't lie - there are a lot of ingredients.
i had many in the house:
a can of chickpeas,
but, i had to buy a few, too:
like the vegetables that i wanted to be fresh.
the cucumbers and the cilantro.
and there's a good amount of food to prepare:
you're asked to halve eggplants,
remove their fleshy centers,
make a filling to stuff their centers,
re-stuff the cavities,
bake them again,
make a tahini sauce
and prepare a tomato salad.
somehow, all of these things can get done
in just over an hour, if you're strategic.
but, regardless of how long it takes to you,
it's foolproof pretty.
need proof? see: name of blog.
it's knife and fork good, which in my experience,
makes people feel like they're eating real food.
and, around here these days, that's important.
adapted from cooking light magazine
i made a couple of changes to the recipe based on both, ingredients that i had on hand and a few small mistakes that i made. i used vidalia onions instead of red in both places, because i had one sitting on my counter. i replaced the fresh breadcrumbs with whole wheat panko. i could have sworn that the recipe called for cilantro, so i bought a bunch. i used the herb to replace the parsley in the chickpea mixture. for the relish, i used mint instead of the parsley, increased the cucumber and tomato, and eliminated the olive oil. and, i replaced the honey in the tahini sauce with agave.
when i made this, i decided to deal with roasting the eggplant, then i set out in a mad dash to get everything else done. this worked for me, by the skin of my teeth, but if you're looking for more of a relaxed cooking experience, make the tahini sauce first and make sure to prep the relish ingredients before starting everything else.
lastly. while i was perfectly content eating one-fourth of the leftovers the next day for lunch, i felt like the night before at dinner, i definitely should have planned to serve it alongside something else, like a salad.
2 eggplants, (about 12 ounces each) (mine were both slightly bigger)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 can (15 ounces) no-salt added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 large eggs
2 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon tahini
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
relish recipe (below)
tahini sauce recipe (below)
heat oven to 475˚f.
halve eggplants lengthwise; score cut sides of in crosshatch pattern. place eggplant halves, cut side down, on aluminum foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. bake 7 minutes, or until slightly tender and browned. carefully scoop out pulp, leaving a 3/4-inch shell (reserve pulp for another use). season eggplant with 1/4 teaspoon salt.
meanwhile, in bowl of food processor, combine chickpeas, eggs, garlic, onion, breadcrumbs, cilantro, tahini, olive oil, cumin, coriander, black pepper, cayenne pepper and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. process 1 minute, or until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl, if necessary.
fill each eggplant with 1/2 cup chickpea mixture, spreading smooth. bake 25 minutes, or until eggplant is tender and chickpea mixture is lightly browned and puffed.
place eggplant on plates. top each eggplant half with a heaping 1/3 cup relish and 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini sauce.
2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded and chopped
1/2 small vidalia onion, thinly sliced vertically
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, julienned
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
in bowl, combine all ingredients.
3 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon agave
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
in bowl, whisk together all ingredients.