Roasted Eggplant Salad

Roasted Eggplant Salad  with pomegranate, pine nuts, and tahini sauce

Remember how I told you that I didn’t know how to cook eggplant? Well, I’ve been practicing a lot since then. I thought I’d share some of the tips I’ve discovered along the way you with, and an easy recipe! 

How to roast perfect eggplant: 

  • Whether dicing or slicing, make each piece the same size. This will ensure everything is done cooking at the same time! 

  • Use plenty of oil. Don’t skimp. Eggplant is like a sponge and will soak it up plenty of oil, but that makes it get crispy in the outside. Use a Silpat (affiliate link) to keep the eggplant from sticking to your pans. Parchment works too.

  • Since you’ll be using plenty, use an oil with a taste you enjoy. While it’s not a high heat oil, we like the flavor of olive oil roasted eggplant more than others. Experiment with an oil that tastes good to you! (I also like avocado oil.)

  • Season with salt, pepper, and garlic before you roast. (Or harissa. Harissa is amazing.)

  • Cook with a high heat: when in doubt, I go to 450°F for eggplant, but if you’re looking to char your eggplant (i.e., for babba ganoush) you’ll want to go hotter or use your grill.

  • Have patience. Wait until the eggplant is super soft when you bite into it. Set a timer, leave the kitchen, and do something else. No foamy eggplant, ok?! 

  • Top it with a sauce or something fresh. A drizzle of yogurt and a scoop of tomato-cucumber salad is great, but this roasted eggplant salad calls for a creamy tahini sauce.

Now, on to why I love this recipe! 

Roasted Eggplant Salad  with pomegranate, pine nuts, and tahini sauce
Roasted Eggplant Salad  with pomegranate, pine nuts, and tahini sauce

Put on some classical music and thrown on your apron. Cooking this salad makes me feel like Ottlenghi, and you will too if you're in the right mindset. 

Why I love this recipe: While eggplant is a summer crop, I like it best when it’s been roasted in the oven for sometime, making it something I prefer to cook when it's a bit cooler. Biting into a forkful of cold romaine lettuce on a snowy day? No thanks! We can do better, and in this case, better is roasted. This roasted eggplant salad is exactly the kind of thing I want to make for lunch when there’s a chill in the air.

Topped with parsley, pomegranate, and a creamy tahini sauce, it’s also vibrant with wintry colors: red, green, and soft white. It goes great with the side of roasted chicken, quinoa, or hummus… buuuut we eat this as a whole meal, split between two people. 

Roasted Eggplant Salad  with pomegranate, pine nuts, and tahini sauce
Roasted Eggplant Salad  with pomegranate, pine nuts, and tahini sauce

Roasted Eggplant Salad

Published December 7, 2017 by
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Serves: 2 as a main course, 4 as a side   |    Total Time: 45-50 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 2 medium eggplants (Italian variety) 
  • 2 large shallots 
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil (or cooking oil of choice)
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • Sprinkle of garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley 
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate perils 
  • 1/3 cup toasted pinenuts 

  • For the Tahini Sauce, inspired by Budget Bytes:  
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1/16 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Slice eggplants into 1/2 inch thick rounds, and arrange in an even layer on a baking sheet (or two). Slice shallots into wedges, and add to baking sheet. Brush everything with olive oil, and then sprinkle with salt and garlic powder. Place in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until eggplant is golden and cooked through. TIP: You can add the pinenuts in the last 3-5 minutes to get them nice and toasted if they are not already. Watch them closely to avoid burning.
  2. While the eggplant is cooking, make the tahini sauce: combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until smooth, seasoning with salt to taste.
  3. Assembly: use a spatula to transfer cooked eggplant and shallots to a serving platter. Sprinkle with parsley, pomegranate, and pinenuts. Then, drizzle with tahini sauce. Serve warm.

Maple-Sweetened Eggnog (No Refined Sugar!)

Maple-Sweetened Eggnog (No Refined Sugar!)

Eggnog is a surprisingly polarizing drink. Surprising to me, because of how much I love it. It is creamy, sweet, and lightly spiced (which you know I love if you read my recent gingerbread post). 

When drinking eggnog I try--try so hard- to make it last, sipping slowly the way you would with a glass of wine. It never really works, going down far too easy. Sip by sip my gulps become larger until it's gone altogether. 

This eggnog is just my kind: creamy, sweet, with a hint of spice. There are a lot of variations on eggnog so if you would like to customize yours, here are some tips! 

On Spiking Your Eggnog: I prefer not to tamper with my eggnog, and let it stay like it was when I was a kid. Alcohol free. That's just me. There's likely a time and a place that spiked eggnog would fit into my life well, but regular old eggnog drinking isn't it. This recipe works either way: my friends stirred in whiskey, which adds to that sharp spicy flavor. Rum would be good as well! No matter what, top with fresh nutmeg (advice from my grandmother). 

To Cook or Not to Cook: This recipe will ask you to cook your eggnog on the stove-top. It doesn't take long, and it helps you get a thick, creamy eggnog. I've made it in the blender (i.e., skipped cooking), and the flavor is there but the creaminess falls a bit short (Plus, without adding alcohol, this makes drinking the raw eggs a little risky). Lots of recipes will ask you to whip your egg whites to stiff peaks and fold them in to get that creamy texture, but that is just too much work (...in my opinion 😉) considering you could also just stir everything on the stove for a few minutes. And while eggnog is usually enjoyed cold, warm eggnog straight from the stove is something else (and an experience worth having).

Maple-Sweetened Eggnog (No Refined Sugar!)
Maple-Sweetened Eggnog (No Refined Sugar!)

Maple Syrup > Sugar: This recipe calls for maple syrup rather than sugar. It does have a subtle maple flavor, but it's quite nice, and I'm surprised you don't see more maple-sweetened eggnogs around. It might sound odd, but really, has maple syrup ever messed up anything?? Plus, it's an unrefined sugar. Three cheers for maple syrup! 

What's All the Fermentation Talk? Fermenting eggnog is the traditional way, and does several things. First, it mellows out any alcohol you may have put in. Second, whatever alcohol you have added kills off any bacteria (or so I've heard). Third, it gives flavors time to meld together. Have you heard of leaving your cookie dough in the fridge over night? Same idea. Key to fermentation: use booze. The alcohol is what kills off any bacteria. I wanted my eggnog now, so this recipe is a drink-it-right-away recipe. You can try adding booze and fermenting it for a few weeks if you're that sort of daring (use a 1/4 cup cognac and 1/4 cup rum).

Maple-Sweetened Eggnog (No Refined Sugar!)
Maple-Sweetened Eggnog (No Refined Sugar!)

Maple-Sweetened Eggnog (No Refined Sugar!)

Published December 7, 2017 by
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Serves: 12   |    Total Time: 10 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream 
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 6 egg yolks 
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Combine milk, cream, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla in a sauce pan and heat until almost simmering. Stir frequently to avoid scalding. 
  2. While the milk heats, whisk together the egg yolks and 1/2 cup maple syrup until frothy and golden.
  3. Ladle 1 scoop of the hot milk into the egg mixture, while whisking it quickly to avoid curdling. Do this two more times to temper the eggs and then pour the egg mixture into sauce pan with milk, whisking while you pour. Cook for 3 minutes while whisking constantly. Do not allow mixture simmer (or boil), as this will cause the eggs to curdle. 
  4. After 3 minutes, remove from heat. At this point, you may add extra maple syrup if you would like, just taste it and adjust, stirring between each addition. (for me, the 1/2 cup we added in step 2 is enough, but if you are accustomed to store-bought you might want a bit more).
  5. Pour the eggnog through a fine mesh sieve to remove the whole cloves and ensure a silky smoothy eggnog.
  6. Serve warm topped with freshly ground nutmeg, or store in air-tight jar and chill to serve later.

Gingered Chicken Meatball Soup

Gingered Chicken Meatballs Soup

Between Thanksgiving and other wintertime holidays there's this little break where we can all take a few deep breaths and recover from the hustle and bustle. The beginning of December still feels really busy, but it doesn't have to, at least that's what I'm saying with this bowl of cozy, slow-down soup. 

It's brothy. It's warm. It's satisfying. This bowl tells you to take a deep breath and sit back in your chair while you slurp. It’s one of those feel better soups, if you’ve been feeling a little under the weather, or just need a little pick me up on a grey day (which we’ve had quite a few of lately). With fresh ginger it has a little kick, and with sautéed shiitakes it’s full of umami goodness. For me, this soup is just the thing to eat in between big gatherings and slices of pie! 

Cozy night in with a movie and steaming bowls? Let's do it. 

This ladle? My mom got it for me in Italy!! But I found something similar on Amazon if you would like one like it. (Affiliate link).

This ladle? My mom got it for me in Italy!! But I found something similar on Amazon if you would like one like it. (Affiliate link).

Gingered Chicken Meatballs Soup

The meatballs in the soup are inspired by some of my favorite potstickers—ones I learned to make as I kid. They have green onions, ginger, garlic, and cilantro folded into them, giving them fresh and bold flavor. Meatballs in soup is not something I do often (actually, this is the first time I've tried it) but a little day dream about potstickers got in my head and it expressed itself as this soup.

If you’re into slurping up pho, or ramen, or egg drop soup, you are sure to love this one. It’ll warm you up, head to toe! The perfect thing after a day of skiing, snowshoeing, or snowman building ☃️

Gingered Chicken Meatballs Soup
Ginger Chicken Meatball Soup

You can also add rice noodles to this, if you like slurping up hot noodles (and who doesn't?). See the "Tip" in the instructions. Adding rice noodles will increase the number of servings to 6-8. 

Gingered Chicken Meatballs Soup

Published December 5, 2017 by
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Serves: 5   |    Total Time: 45 minutes



Ingredients:

    For the meatballs:
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/4 heaping cup sliced green onion
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, grated on microplane (or ginger paste)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce 
  • 1 tablespoon minced cilantro
  • 1 dash cayenne 
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil 

  • For the soup:
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil 
  • 2 cups mushrooms, diced into bite sized pieces (if the mushrooms are small, feel free to skip this)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, grated on a microplane
  • 6 cups chicken or mushroom broth (I do half chicken, half mushroom)
  • Splash of soy sauce 
  • Pepper to taste 

  • To Serve: 
  • Chopped green onions and cilantro
  • Sesame seeds 
  • Sriracha or red chili flakes

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix the ingredients for the meatballs, except for the coconut oil, using a rubber spatula. Once combined, heat the coconut oil in the bottom of a large soup pot over medium heat. When the oil sizzles, shape the chicken mixture into small spheres, about 1-inch to 1-1/2 in in diameter each. Cook them in batches, browning on each side for 1-2 minutes and turning. Once cooked, move meatballs from pot to a plate and set aside. Continue until all the chicken is used.
  2. Now work on the rest of the soup: Add another tablespoon of coconut oil to the pot. Once it sizzles, add the mushrooms, onion, garlic, and ginger. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and the mushrooms are tender. Add broth, splash of soy sauce, and a few cracks of pepper to the pot. Then, return meatballs to the pot.
  3. Bring soup to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Then, serve hot in bowls and top with green onions, cilantro, sesame seeds, and Sriracha or red chili flakes.
  4. Tip: If you would like to add rice noodles to this, add an 8 ounce package of thin (vermicelli) noodles in the last 3 minutes when you are simmering the soup. Simmer until the noodles are softened through, then remove soup from heat and serve.