Roasted Eggplant with Charmoula Sauce

Roasted Eggplant with Charmoula Sauce

Last week, I told you all that I bought The Food of Morocco, and have been on a Moroccan food kick. The kick continues today… with this Roasted Eggplant with Charmoula Sauce.

There are already a lot of eggplant recipes on this blog, and I know it’s not everyone’s favorite vegetable. This blog post is really more about the sauce, which you could use over fish, grilled meat, or roasted veggies (and don’t stop there). Or, eggplant.

It struck me, while I was adding all of the ingredients for this Charmoula to the blender, that it’s just like so many other herb-based sauces found around the world. It combines oil with an acid (lemon juice), garlic, salt, and pepper, and heaps of herbs. In this case, cilantro and parsley. The process reminded me of making a South American Chimichurri, or the garlicky dipping oil used in Ecuador, or even pesto.

It is not so much their similarity that surprises me, but the idea that diverse people, strung out across the world, all arrived at a similar solution to saucing food. Oil, herbs, garlic. I’m not a historian, though a quick look at the Wiki history of Chimichurri sauce suggests it was brought over by Spanish immigrants. Were all of these sauces another way of making the flavors immigrants were familiar with in a new environment, with new ingredients? Perhaps. (I, by the way, adored this essay on how immigrants assimilate through food).

Roasted Eggplant with Charmoula Sauce
Roasted Eggplant with Charmoula Sauce

The other thing that struck me about Charmoula was it’s flavor, which I found sharper and stronger than chimichurri or pesto. I would probably eat a spoonful of pesto straight. At least, I would definitely lick the spatula. And maybe I would with charmoula as well, but it’s flavor is not as sweet, or creamy — it will wake you up a bit! It’s salty and tart and herbaceous. Which is why it’s a perfect finishing sauce, the final touch on roasted eggplant that wakes it all up. A drizzle over a fillet of fish that brings everything together. The “zing.”

Pulling from Mediterranean flavors, I also added a drizzle of tahini to this eggplant. It’s richness is a good counterpart to charmoula, and the charmoula cuts through the richness of the tahini. Eggplant — we'll, I’d say it’s just the carrying vessel, but others might disagree.

Roasted Eggplant with Charmoula Sauce

Roasted Eggplant with Charmoula Sauce

Published March 12, 2019 by
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Serves: 4   |    Active Time: 45 minutes



Ingredients:


For the charmoula:
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
  • Dash cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • 1/3 cup packed parsley leaves

  • For the eggplant:
  • 2 eggplants
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • For serving: 1/4 cup tahini

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
    2. Slice stem from eggplant and then cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Spread out on a baking sheet (or two) in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt, and allow eggplant to sit for 5-10 minutes. The salt with help reduce bitterness.
    3. Brush eggplant with olive oil. Flip eggplant and brush the second side. Place in oven and bake 30-35 minutes, until eggplant is soft all the way through, and is golden/brown on the edges.
    4. While eggplant cooks, combine all ingredients for charmoula in a food processor or blender, and pulse until a sauce forms. I like my sauce to still have some texture to it, so I stop before everything is puréed, but this is just my preference.
    5. Serve: place roasted eggplant on a plate, and drizzle with several spoonfuls of charmoula and several spoonfuls of tahini. Eat warm.
    6. Note: you will likely have leftover charmoula, which can be used as a sauce for fish, or grilled meats and vegetables.

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    Chorizo & Egg Breakfast Tacos

    Chorizo & Egg Breakfast Tacos

    It started with a business trip to Texas in 2016. It was my first real business trip. My co-worker (Libby, who is somewhat of an aviation food connoisseur) asked if I wanted to stop by Root Down, a restaurant in the terminal. We got sweet potato fries with curry sauce and I realized that whatever I had previously thought about airport food was wrong. (Fruit cups, low fat yogurt, and granola bars? Move aside!)

    Fast forward to 2017: I’m traveling to Ecuador for a client. I had been on a few business trips since that one to Texas, but none as cool as this one — Ecuador! South America! Hadn’t I graduated with a Spanish Degree just for this?! Going into Marketing I had pretty much thought those international opportunities were behind me. Anyhow, I was on my own, so the world was my oyster and the schedule was whatever I said it was. Which means there was time to stop at Root Down, and breakfast was in order. I sat at a table for one with a view of the tarmac and ordered tacos. In that moment I felt awkward by myself, and took solace in those tacos, taking my sweet time. Each taco was small — made on a 4-inch tortilla - and stuffed with greasy chorizo and fluffy scrambled eggs.

    My next encounter with those tacos was this August. It was 6am as we rode the bus to the airport, and by the time we made it to security our stomachs rumbled for breakfast. It was Oliver’s idea, that day, to stop at Root Down but of course I didn’t protest. We both ordered the tacos and coffee and finally, digging into our breakfast, we were on vacation.

    Chorizo & Egg Breakfast Tacos

    This taco recipe is my home rendition: chorizo crumbles, scrambled eggs, fresh cilantro, tomatoes, and queso fresco. I replaced the pickled red onions with minced fresh red onions that star on Root Down’s menu, because at home it’s easier (and I like the fresh flavor). And added avocado, because we weren’t going to make tacos without avocado.

    When you make these, it might be easier to just cook up an entire pound of chorizo versus the exact amount you need. It will store well in your fridge, and can go into future meals (great in soups!) or make it easier for you to get breakfast going tomorrow. You could also plan to serve a crowd: make a breakfast taco bar!

    Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but these tacos for breakfast feel a bit like a vacation. Enjoy!

    Chorizo & Egg Breakfast Tacos

    Chorizo & Egg Breakfast Tacos

    Published November 8, 2018 by
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    Yield: 3   |    Active Time: 30 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 6 six-inch corn tortillas
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup chorizo crumbles, cooked and heated
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • 1/2 an avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cup queso fresco crumbles
  • 1 tablespoon minced red onion
  • 2 tablespoon minced cilantro
  • Optional: hot sauce of choice, to taste
  • Optional, for serving: lime wedges

  • Directions:

    1. Prep your ingredients first in this recipe, as once the eggs are cooked, you’ll want to immediately start assembling your tacos. So, dice that tomato, slice the avocado, and mince the cilantro and red onion now. Reheat or cook the chorizo.
    2. Warm the tortillas. There are plenty of ways you can get this done: place them in a preheated oven for a few minutes, warm them in a toaster oven, or heat them in a dry skillet. Whatever you do, watch them closely so as to avoid burning them or drying them out too much. Just a few minutes will do.
    3. Now, crack eggs into a medium sized mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper and whisk until they are a creamy yellow color and slightly frothy.
    4. Heat coconut oil over medium heat in a 10-inch skillet. When oil sizzles, pour in eggs. As eggs begin to set (it will take a minute or two), use a wooden spatula, to pull the eggs across the pan, stirring them. Continue until no visible liquid egg white remains, and then move the pan off the heat. (Tip: If there are other things to do or prepare, I sometimes will pull the pan from the heat a little bit early, say 30 seconds, to avoid over cooked eggs. They will continue to cook in the pan until you serve them.)
    5. Assemble tacos: take tortillas out of the toaster, and top each with a heaping tablespoonful of chorizo. Divide egg mixture evenly amongst tortillas, and then top each with diced tomato, a slice of avocado, queso fresco, minced red onion, and cilantro.
    6. Serve hot with hot sauce on the side, and lime wedges if using.

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    Zoodle Pad Thai with Chicken

    Zoodle Pad Thai

    If I were to dream about Pad Thai (you know, just hypothetically...), I think it would look like this. A rainbow mess of veggie noodles and hot, savory steam rising from the pan.

    I mentioned it in my Thai Basil Chicken Recipe, but I love when Thai food is overloaded with veggies. Zoodles are the perfect way to do that! Regular Pad Thai calls for rice noodles, and I’ve made it that way, but what I love more is this combo of zoodles with caramelized red pepper strips and bright carrots. Hello, rainbow in a skillet!

    Zoodle Pad Thai

    This dish is also a “throw it all in the pan” sort of meal, which is just my style. If I know we’re going to be home late, I’ll spiralize the zucchini and chop the peppers and carrots in the morning, so that in the evening all I have to do is put things in a pan before eating. First the chicken, then the carrots and peppers, and finally the zoodles—they cook virtually instantly, so you barely have to wait before digging in!

    Remember to sprinkle with crushed peanuts or cashews and a drizzle of Sriracha before you take the first bite. The crunch and zing is worth it. And if you want to really flex you culinary muscles, crack and egg into the pan in the last few minutes, scrambling it a bit. 

    Zoodle Pad Thai

    If you like this recipe, you'll also love this Zoodle Chicken Chow Mein, with cabbage and green beans.

    Zoodle Pad Thai with Chicken

    Published January 18, 2018 by
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    Serves: 4   |    Total Time: 30 minutes



    Ingredients:

    • 2 medium zucchini
    • 1 cup carrot, julienned
    • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
    • 8 ounces chicken, cubed
    • 1/4 cup scallions, minced 
    • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced 
    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

    • For sauce:
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
    • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce 
    • 3 tablespoons maple syrup 
    • 2 tablespoons lime juice
    • 2 tablespoons Sriracha (your favorite brand or homemade)
    • 2 tablespoon tahini 
    • 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
    • 1 tablespoon fish sauce OR if you prefer, Worcestershire sauce for a more mild fish flavor

    • For serving:
    • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, crushed 
    • 1 lime, slided in wedges

    Directions:

    1. First, use a Spiralizer (affiliate link) to turn the zucchini into zoodles. Set zoodles aside.
    2. Heat coconut oil in a skillet or wok over medium heat. Once oil glistens, add cubed chicken, browning for about 3 minutes on each side. Check to make sure the chicken is cooked through by slicing a piece in half— meat should be white all the way through, with no visible pink. If it is cooked through, use a slotted spoon to move chicken to a plate and set aside. (If any pink is left, cook in the skillet for a few extra minutes).
    3. Add julienned carrot and sliced bell pepper to skillet, sautéing until tender. Once the carrots are tender and the peppers are starting to brown on the edges, add the chicken back into the pan, along with the zoodles, minced cilantro, and scallions.
    4. Make the sauce: add all ingredients for the sauce to a small jar. Secure lid on jar, and shake until all ingredients are combined.
    5. Pour sauce into skillet, and use tongs to move zoodles and chicken around in the pan so that everything is coated. Allow sauce to come to a simmer, and cook for 1 minute (just long enough for the zoodles to cook. I like them al dente—soft with a tiny bit of bite left- but you can cook them another minute if you prefer them extra soft).
    6. Divide amongst serving bowls and top with crushed peanuts and lime wedges.

    Zoodle Pad Thai
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