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Archive for August, 2011

My new favorite part of the New York Times is Martha Rose Shulman’s weekly recipe column, Recipes for Health.  Every week she posts delicious, easy and tasty recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients and every week I am drawn in once again.

A few weeks ago she posted a recipe for eggplant and chickpeas that made my  mouth water, and finally, last night, I had time and the ingredients to make it.

Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables, and roasted until it is velvety and then paired with chickpeas, tomatoes and pomegranate molasses

it turns absolutely spectacular.  Now, don’t worry, pomegranate molasses is available all over the place these days, by mail order, at Whole Foods, or at your local ethnic grocer.  And it’s an ingredient worth having.  Just try it with eggplant and see!

I, of course, made a few changes to the original recipe, so here’s the version I used.

Eggplant with chickpeas and tomatoes

1 large eggplant (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds), halved lengthwise then cut in 1/2-inch slices

Salt to taste

3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, as needed

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 large can fire roasted crushed tomatoes (I used Muir Glen)

3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

1 large can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, mint and basil

Serves 4-6 as a side dish

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with foil and brush it with olive oil.  Place the eggplant slices on the foil, salt them lightly and brush them with olive oil.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the eggplant is lightly browned and feels soft and dry to the touch.

Remove from the oven, and fold over the foil to make a packet around the eggplant slices. Allow them to soften and steam inside the foil while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy casserole or skillet.

Add the garlic. Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the canned and chopped tomatoes, salt to taste, sugar, pepper and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer, and simmer uncovered over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down and smell very fragrant.

Add the eggplant, molasses and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for another 20 minutes, stirring from time to time. The mixture should be thick and the eggplant should be very tender, melting into the mixture.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Sprinkle on the chopped parsley, mint and basil and serve, hot, warm or at room temperature.

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Still on vacation and now taking advantage of what’s in the farmer’s market here on the island.  Among other things at the market this past Saturday was some beautiful cauliflower — one of those vegetables that people either love or hate.

I’ve found that if you roast it, even former cauliflower-phobes can be transformed to cauliflower eaters.  And if you then puree that roasted vegetable with some roasted garlic, and lemon juice and spices, they might even become cauliflower lovers!

Roasted cauliflower puree

(makes about 1 ½ cups)

1 medium head cauliflower, broken into 1” florets

6-8 good sized cloves garlic, peeled (you can use more if you really love garlic!)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon paprika (you can used smoked paprika if you like)

1 tablespoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (plus more to taste)

juice of one lemon

½ cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley

Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce, optional, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the cauliflower florets and garlic cloves in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper until everything is nicely coated with oil and spices.

Spread vegetables evenly on a baking sheet and put into the middle of the oven.  After about 15 minutes, shake the pan to make sure none of the cauliflower or garlic is sticking and return the sheet to the oven for about 10 more minutes.  When the cauliflower is tender and just browning on the tips of each floret, it’s done.

Let cool until vegetables reach room temperature, or refrigerate overnight.

Put the cooled cauliflower and garlic cloves, lemon juice, two remaining tablespoons of olive oil and parsley into the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth (it will be a little gritty looking—that’s as smooth as it gets).

Season to taste with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper and add hot sauce to taste.

Serve with really good chips, pita, or thinly sliced rustic bread.  Store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

And it really is good on a slice of homebaked bread.

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