Tabbouleh with a Twist

Tabbouleh is an Arabic dish comprised of bulgur and fresh herbs and vegetables. It is served as part of a mezze (Middle Eastern appetizers) and can also accompany many dishes as a refreshing side dish. I decided to give the classic tabbouleh a small twist, by omitting the cucumber and combining it with a salad that my grandmother used to make to accompany heavy meals. The salad included roasted eggplant, parsley, tomatoes, lots of garlic and lemon juice. Combining these two dishes together worked very nicely. The dish has some bright flavors of garlic, lemon and salt, and I love it!

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Ingredients:
1 cup coarse bulgur
2 medium eggplants
2 large tomatoes, diced
6-8 small cloves garlic, minced
½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
Juice from 1 large lemon (or 1 ½ if you are me)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt

Preparation:
Place the bulgur in a medium bowl. Cover with boiling water, about 3 inches above the bulgur, and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Drain to remove excess water.

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Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and roast under the broiler or on the grill. Poke the eggplant with a knife in several places to prevent it from exploding when on the grill. Let the skin get charred, then turn the eggplant 90 degrees and roast until charred. Repeat the process until the eggplants are well charred all around. Remove from the heat and leave on the side to cool.

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When cool enough to handle, scoop out the meat of the eggplants, using a spoon. Chop the meat on a cutting board. I also like to chop a little bit of the charred skin. It adds a great smokey flavor to the eggplant.

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and mix together. Let sit for 30 minutes to allow the bulgur to absorb the flavors.

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Eggplant and Black Lentil Salad

Two of my favorite ingredients, eggplants and lentils, are combined together in this interesting Turkish salad I found in an Israeli magazine. You may add this salad to a bed of lettuce to create a salad meal, or you can use it as a side dish. I ate it as my main dish as it already has the protein in it (lentils). I added some cooked veggies and a nice piece of homemade bread and I was a very happy camper. I discovered that this salad tastes best the following day. And oh, yeah, the cherry on the icing is crumbling some feta cheese (vegan in my case) on top when serving the salad.IMG_7925

Ingredients:
2 medium eggplants, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 tbs oil
1 cup black lentils
2 ½ cups water
10 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup mint leaves, chopped
½ cup raisins or dried cranberries
Juice from ½  lemon
1 tsp apple vinegar
Salt
Pepper

Preparation:
Heat an oven to 400F.

In a bowl mix the eggplant cubes with oil, salt and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven until eggplants are nicely browned. Remove from the oven and cool.

Place the lentils and the water in a pot, bring to a boil and cook for about 25 minutes, until lentils are soft but not mushy. Drain of excess water and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine the lentils, eggplants, tomatoes, mint, raisins, onion, lemon juice and vinegar. Mix well and add salt and pepper to taste.

Keep refrigerated.

The salad tastes better the next day, as the flavors get absorbed.IMG_7918

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Mediterranean Medley

Eggplants, zucchini, bell peppers, basil, olive oil and garlic….couldn’t get more Mediterranean then that.

This wonderful dish can be served as a salad or as a side dish, warm or at room temperature. It is at its best a day after preparing it as the flavors combine into a cohesive dish.

Ingredients:
2 eggplants, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 zucchinis, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 bell peppers
Olive oil for drizzling
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 sprigs basil (1 cup)
3 tbs white vinegar
2 tbs olive oil
Salt

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400F.

Place the cubed eggplants and zucchini on a baking sheet, drizzle with some olive oil and bake for about 20 minutes, until eggplants are golden. Remove from the oven and chill.

Place the whole bell peppers on a baking sheet. Set the oven to hi broil and roast the peppers until skin is charred. Turn the peppers and char them all around. Remove from the oven and place in a pot with a lid to let the peppers sweat. When cold enough to handle, peel the skin off the peppers and remove the stem and the seeds. Cut the peppers into strips.

In a large bowl, place the roasted eggplants, zucchini and peppers.

Cut the basil leaves into thin strips and add to the bowl.

Add the garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and salt, and toss the salad well.

Keep refrigerated overnight or at least 4 hours before serving, to let all flavors come together.

Eggplant Rollatini with Mushrooms

My husband and two boys used to be the carnivores in our house, and if a main dish didn’t include meat, they were very dissatisfied. But not anymore. Not after having this dish for dinner. In fact, they enjoyed it so much that now I can introduce more meatless dishes and they are totally fine with that and a new era started in our home – we are all vegan now.

Of course, this dish is not what made us change our eating habits but it was a nice trigger.

The flavor of the mushrooms is very rich and full of umami. Do not skip on the baby bella or the dried mushrooms. They are responsible for the umami flavor.

Ingredients:
4 large eggplants
Oil spray
¼ cup oil
1 large onion, diced
20 oz mixed mushrooms (baby Bella, white button)
1 oz mixed dried mushrooms or dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp Aleppo pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
Salt

Sauce:
2 tbs oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium tomatoes
2 tbs tomato paste
1 cup water
½ tsp garlic powder
Salt and black pepper

Preparation:
Preheat an oven to 400F.

Slice the eggplants lengthwise, into ½ thick slices. Generously pray a baking sheet with oil and arrange the eggplant slices in one layer. Spray the eggplants with the oil. You will probably need 2-3 baking sheets to accommodate all the eggplant.

Place in the preheated oven and bake until eggplants turn golden. Remove from the oven and chill. Turn oven off.

In the meantime, heat ¼ cup oil in a large pot and sauté the onion.

Chop the fresh mushrooms in a food processor until they resemble ground meat in texture.

Place the dried mushrooms in a coffee grinder and grind to a powder.

Once the onion is golden, add the ground mushrooms to the pot and sauté on high heat for 5 minutes stirring it occasionally.

Add the garlic powder, Aleppo pepper and salt and sauté for 1 more minute.

Turn off the heat, add the chopped parsley and mix well. Chill.

Heat 2 tbs oil in a small pot and saute the onions for 3 minutes.

Place the tomatoes in a food processor and puree. Add the tomatoes to the sautéed onion and saute for 2 more minutes.

Add the tomato paste, water, and spices and stir it all in. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Putting it all together:

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Place 1 tbs of the mushroom filling on one end of the eggplant and roll up tightly.

Place the eggplant rolls in a baking dish, seam side down, one next to the other.

When baking dish is full, top the eggplant with half the amount of the tomato sauce, and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Serve hot or at room temperature with some good bread.

 

Eggplants and Bell Peppers in Vinegar

This dish is a Moroccan salad served as part of a mezze table. It is one of my favorite salads ever! The combination of eggplants (my favorite veggie) and peppers with garlic and vinegar is divine! In our house we eat it as a side dish or on a sandwich. It is best to make it a day before you plan on serving it, to let the flavors combine.

Ingredients:
3 eggplants, cubed
oil spray
4 bell peppers, grilled
5 sprigs parsley, chopped thinly
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons oil
Salt

Preparation:
Preheat your oven to 400F.

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Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it with oil spray. Spread the cubes of eggplant on the baking sheet in one layer and spray on top with the oil. You may need more than one baking sheet to accommodate all the eggplant. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until eggplant is turning golden brown. Remove from the oven.

Peel the grilled peppers, discard of the stem and the seeds, and cut the flesh into ½ inch strips.

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In a large bowl, combine the strips of peppers, roasted eggplant, parsley, garlic, oil, salt and vinegar. Mix well and let sit for a few hours to a day before serving. This salad tastes best the following day, after all flavors are absorbed.

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Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush is a Middle Eastern spread/appetizer that has made fame in the U.S, following its better known relative, the hummus. Baba Ganoush is a spread made from pureed roasted eggplant and tahini paste. In Baba Ganoush, the eggplant is literally burned on the grill, which gives this dish its special smoky, burned, distinctive flavor. You may also grill the eggplant in the oven, but burning them on the grill gives them the burned aroma from the fire, which makes a big difference.

2 medium grilled eggplants
½ cup raw tahini paste
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ – ½ cup water
salt

Use the grilled eggplant when it is at room temperature. Scoop the meat out of the skin onto a cutting board and chop very thinly to a puree consistency.

In a bowl, mix the eggplant puree with the tahini, crushed garlic, lemon juice, salt and ¼ cup water. If the spread is too thick, add a little bit more water and mix well.

I like to add chopped parsley to my Baba Ganoush, for additional brightness.