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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    Instant Pot Corn Chowder

    Instant Pot Corn Chowder

    You know when you think you’re grabbing the paprika but you grab the cayenne by mistake, dump a whole spoonful into the pot, stir it up, and then read the label? Anyone? 

    I didn’t think so. But, um, it totally happened when I was first testing this soup. Maybe you have had a similar experience, but if you haven’t, let me spell it out for you: 

    S.P.I.C.Y. 

    At least thats what happened with this particular mistake. HA! 

    But, I made it through that bowl of extra spicy soup and thought, hey, when you taste past the cayenne this is pretty dang good. Once your mouth stops burning and all. (I love spicy food, but this just was a bit too much, something even a half cup of heavy cream stirred in didn’t calm). 

    Instant Pot Corn Chowder
    Instant Pot Corn Chowder

    Assuming you can read the labels on your spice jars better than I can, this corn chowder is the stuff summer evenings are made of. At least it is for me, because it reminds me of sitting on the back patio at my mom’s house as a kid, slurping on corn chowder while the sun dips down behind the mountains and the day’s heat finally gives way to a cool evening breeze. (Hi Mom, maybe you should send me that recipe?!) 

    This version is lighter that the one of my childhood (and most chowders, really) — forgoing flour and bacon, it is full of fresh corn flavor and has creaminess from Yukon gold potatoes and a splash of the good stuff (half and half). And really, when it’s this hot of a summer, light is what it’s alllll about. 

    Instant Pot Corn Chowder

    Quick Instant Pot Corn Chowder

    Published July 5, 2018 by
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    Serves: 4   |    Active Time: 20 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 2 medium yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 16 ounces frozen corn kernels, thawed, reserve 2 tablespoons for topping
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, minced plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1-3 dashes of cayenne, to taste
  • Dash of paprika for garnish
  • Optional: shredded cheddar cheese for garnish

  • Directions:

    1. Heat coconut oil in the bottom of an Instant Pot (affiliate link!) on the sauté setting. Add the diced onion, minced garlic, carrot, and bell pepper until the onions are transparent.
    2. Add potatoes, corn kernels, 2 tablespoons minced parsley, salt, pepper, bay leaf, thyme, and broth. Place lid on Instant Pot and turn to the Soup setting, setting the timer to 4 minutes with the vent in the sealed position.
    3. After the timer goes off, release the pressure. Remove the thyme and bay leaf. Using an immersion blender (like this one (affiliate link!)) purée the soup, leaving a few chunks according to you preference. Stir in the half and half, and add cayenne to taste.
    4. Serve soup hot in bowls, topped with a fresh fresh corn kernels, a dash of paprika, minced parsley, and optionally, shredded cheddar.

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    Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad

    Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad

    Quinoa salads have been a staple lately. I make a big batch of quinoa, roast up some veggies (it's been extra hot here, so I quite literally carry our toaster oven into the garage and roast them in there so that the house doesn't take all that extra heat), allow everything to cool, and then toss it all with fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes, feta, toasted pine nuts, and a lemon vinaigrette.

    The combo is light but satisfying, summery and fresh. And just look at that rainbow of colors:  

    Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad
    Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad

    Another perk when it comes to quinoa salads is that you can very easily adapt them. Recently I added chickpeas in place of feta (a good vegan option, if you're into that), made a red wine, garlic and herb vinaigrette lemon, and served it all over butterhead lettuce instead of baby greens. Voila! A totally different experience, but the same exact method. 

    The point is, you can swap whatever the heck is in season into this recipe. This particular recipe uses peak-of-summer crops. Some other combos to tantalize your tastebuds with:

    • Cherry tomatoes, bite-sized fresh mozzarella pieces, and basil with balsamic vinaigrette

    • Fresh tomato, cucumber, parsley, kalamata olives and chickpeas for a greek version

    • Bell peppers, broccoli florets, cilantro, bean sprouts, and a sesame soy dressing

    • Sugar snap peas, roasted asparagus, radishes, and sprouts for a cheery spring edition

    • Roasted butternut squash cubes, goat cheese, black beans, and walnuts for a late summer or fall version

    But for now, onward to this summery rainbow of a recipe! 

    Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad

    Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad

    Published June 19, 2018 by
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    Serves: 6   |    Active Time: 60 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 medium summer squash
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 1/2 cup feta crumbles
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2-3 cups baby greens (such as baby kale or spinach) 

  • For the dressing:
  • Zest & juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Dice eggplant into 1/2 inch cubes. Slice summer squash into half moons, and slice red onion into medium-large wedges. Spread all of them out on a sheet pan, and drizzle with olive oil, tossing them in the oil to coat. Roast veggies for 30-40 minutes, until onions are brown on the edges and eggplant is very soft the whole way through, and starting to brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely.
    2. In a large salad bowl, combine: cooled quinoa and cooled roasted veggies, sliced grape tomatoes, minced parsley, feta, pine nuts, and baby greens.
    3. In a small jar, combine ingredients for dressing. Close jar and shake to combine. Pour dressing over salad and toss until everything is combined. Serve.

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