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Feb 07, 2016
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

By the Book: “Zahav” by Michael Solomonov

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

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I never cook  eggplant at home because my mom makes the best eggplant. Why mess with perfection? Still, I decided to make chef Michael Solomonov’s fried eggplant with tehina and pomegranate seeds from the Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking for one key reason: It looked like the gorgeous cover of Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. Thankfully, it also tasted as amazing as it looked.

The dish took a little prep work, as I needed to salt the eggplant and let it sit overnight to draw out extra moisture. Eggplant skin can be thick and tough, but Solomonov instructs you to peel just half of the eggplant skin so it looks striped. This lessens the resistance when eating but keeps the vegetable intact when cooking. Details like this set you up for success, which makes me trust the recipes that I haven’t tried yet.

The tehina (the same ground sesame paste Americans call “tahini”) was a rich nutty sauce combining the paste with the sharp raw garlic and a bright lemon juice. I drizzled it and molasses atop the sliced eggplants, then sprinkled it all with pomegranate seeds and pistachios. The whole dish reminded me of a savory sundae, perfectly balanced with a sweet, acidic bite.

Skill level: Beginner to intermediate. These recipes are written perfectly. Anyone that can follow instructions can cook from this book.
This book is for: Anyone. No really. With nine chapters covering everything from vegetables to soup to rice to grilled meats, anyone can find something to try in this book.
Other recipes to try: Hummus or fried cauliflower with herbed labneh
The verdict: This simple dish offered more complexity than the Turkish kofte, earning it frontrunner status in our Middle Eastern By the Book battle. Check back next week when Zahav takes on our final contender.

 

 

Nov15_Round3_2

 

Fried Eggplant with Tehina and Pomegranate Seeds
6 servings

2 large eggplants
Kosher salt
Canola oil, for frying
1/3 cup Basic Tehina Sauce (recipe follows)
3 Tbsp. carob molasses
½ cup pomegranate seeds
¼ cup shelled pistachios

• Remove 4 vertical strips of skin from each eggplant with a peeler, leaving the remaining skin attached. Trim the ends and cut the eggplants into ¾-inch-thick rounds. Generously season both sides with salt and place on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet to catch any drips. Refrigerate overnight.
• Heat ½ inch oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Wipe both sides of each eggplant slice with a paper towel to remove surface moisture and excess salt.
• When the oil is shimmering but not smoking add the eggplant slices in a single layer, working in batches to avoid crowding the skillet. Fry the eggplant on each side until dark brown, about 5 minutes per side. You want the eggplant to be seriously dark on the outside and creamy on the inside, so be patient. When the skillet starts to seem dry, add more oil as needed. Remove the eggplant slices from the skillet and drain on paper towels.
• Place the eggplant on a platter and spoon the tehina sauce on top. Drizzle with the carob molasses and scatter the pomegranate seeds and pistachios on top.

Basic Tehina Sauce
Makes about 4 cups

1 head garlic
¾ cup lemon juice (from 3 lemons)
1½ tsp. kosher salt
2 generous cups tehina
½ tsp. ground cumin

• Break up the head of garlic with your hands, letting the unpeeled cloves fall into the blender. Add the lemon juice and ½ teaspoon of salt. Blend on high for a few seconds until you have a coarse puree. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes to let the garlic mellow.
• Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large mixing bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids. Add the tehina to the strained lemon juice in the bowl, along with the cumin and 1 teaspoon of the salt.
• Whisk the mixture together until smooth (or use a food processor), adding ice water a few tablespoons at a time to thin it out. The sauce will lighten in color as you whisk. When the tehina seizes up or tightens, keep adding ice water, bit by bit (about 1½ cups in total), whisking energetically until you have a perfectly smooth, creamy, thick sauce.
• Taste and add up to 1½ teaspoons more salt and cumin if you like. If you’re not using the sauce immediately, whisk in a few tablespoons of ice water to loosen it before refrigerating. The tehina sauce will keep a week refrigerated, or it can be frozen for up to a month.

 

Printed with permission from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Meatless Monday: Acquacotta

Monday, November 16th, 2015

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Dreary evenings like this require a bowl of bone-warming soup. We’re not talking about some wimpy chicken noodle. Tonight, we need a bowl filled to the brim with Acquacotta, a vegetarian Italian delight. Roasted tomatoes, umami-packed porcini mushrooms, healthy greens and toothsome beans simmer around 45 minutes before you ladle into into deep bowls. Crown each serving with a thick piece of crusty bread for dipping and pop the yolk on a poached egg to remind you of sunnier days. Click here for the recipe.

 

-photo by Carmen Troesser 

Meatless Monday: Fried Brussels Sprouts Salad

Monday, November 9th, 2015

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Meet the salad to convert all Brussels sprouts haters. A whopping nine cups of the bitty veg are fried until crisp , then tossed with slivers of julienned pears, crisp Bibb lettuce and fried garlic. The sweet-savory salad is tossed with a burnt honey dressing and garlicky aioli for a rich vegetarian dinner sure to convince even the most adamant in the anti-sprout camp. Get the recipe here.

 

-photo by Jonathan Gayman

 

 

Meatless Monday: Butternut Squash Stew

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

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Indulge in a Butternut Squash Stew so rich and flavorful, you won’t even realize it’s vegan until you’ve licked the bowl clean. Chunks of vibrant butternut squash and carrots are coated in curry powder, then simmered with tomatoes, crimini mushrooms and chickpeas. A cinnamon stick adds an unexpected savory note to this classic Lebanese dish. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve. Click here for the recipe.

Just Five: Roasted Carrot Ginger Soup

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

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This simple vegetarian recipe is a great dish to serve before sending your goblins out to trick-or-treat, but it’s also sophisticated enough to serve as a starter for a grown-up Halloween party. Roasting the carrots brings out their natural sugars, the ginger adds just a hint of sweet pepperiness, and the coconut milk adds a silky texture and just a hint of the tropics. Start your evening in the carrot patch, and you’ll feel less guilty unwrapping those fun-size Snickers for dessert.

 
Roasted Carrot-Ginger Soup
4 to 6 servings

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1½ cups chopped onion (about 1 large onion)
2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
3 cups vegetable broth, plus more as needed
½ cup full-fat coconut milk

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• In a large bowl, toss the carrots with 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Spread them a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until they start to brown.
• Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute 8 minutes, until translucent. Add the ginger and cook 1 minute, then add the broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 5 minutes.
• Add the roasted carrots to the pot, cover and simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Use an immersion blender or work in batches with a regular blender to carefully puree the soup until smooth. Add more stock to thin to reach desired consistency.
• Return the soup to the pot over low heat and stir in the coconut milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

 

Meatless Monday: Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes

Monday, October 26th, 2015

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Save the candy for the trick-or-treaters and roast up a dish that’s healthier (and tastier) than that snack-sized candy bar you’ve been eyeing. Flavor-packed Brussels sprouts are tossed with plump red grapes and olive oil , then popped in the oven. Once those cute little veggies are tender and the grapes have burst, a sprinkle of Parmesan is melted over the top for a savory, sweet treat you’ll keep all to yourself. Get the recipe here.

 

 

Just Five: Marinated 7-Minute Eggs

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

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Most chefs in this town love their jobs and are all too happy to share their ideas and recipes. Recently, I had a chance to chat with Lucky Buddha chef René Cruz after a weeknight dinner. I had just slurped up a bowl of Cruz’s ramen, adding a soy sauce-marinated egg that was so delicious, I begged him to share his recipe.

A ramen egg is usually a seven-minute egg – one simmered for exactly seven minutes – resulting in a cooked white and a slightly wiggly, gooey yolk, not runny like a soft-boiled egg. They are then marinated in a potent brew of flavors and ingredients that vary from chef to chef.

Lucky Buddha’s soy-marinated egg has a few more than five ingredients, so I made some tough choices, but I ended up with a delightful treat. These eggs are great as a snack with sake bombs, sliced over a spinach salad or as a savory breakfast with rice and green onions.

 

Marinated 7-Minute Eggs
1 serving
Adapted from a recipe from Lucky Buddha’s René Cruz

2 eggs
1 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. white sugar
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped ginger

• In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the soy sauce and sugar. Microwave 30 seconds and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the rice vinegar and ginger, then set aside.
• Prepare an ice water bath. Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Carefully place the eggs in the water and boil 7 minutes. Remove the eggs and plunge into the ice water bath. Let rest until cool enough to handle, 3 to 5 minutes.
• Peel the eggs and place them in a zip-top bag with the soy mixture. Refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours. Serve with stir-fried noodles, ramen, on a spinach salad or with rice and green onions.

Meatless Monday: Fall Tacos

Monday, October 12th, 2015

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If you started snatching up butternut squash the moment they hit produce stands, this vegan taco recipe is for you. Golden cubed butternut squash and leafy kale are sauteed with garlic and chili powder, then tucked into corn tortillas and topped with toasted pumpkin seeds. Top with vegan cheese or go the extra mile and DIY cashew crema by soaking raw nuts in water for an hour, then blitz with cumin and lime juice. Get the recipe here.

 

Meatless Monday: Meatloaf

Monday, October 5th, 2015

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This stick-to-your-ribs Meatless Monday meal is the perfect kickoff to October. A full pound of baby portobello mushrooms are cooked down, then combined with cooked brown rice, oat bran and wheat germ. Add an umami punch with a combo of mustard, ketchup, Heinz 57 and vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, then hold it all together with eggs and milk. Bake 45 minutes, then serve with buttery mashed potatoes. Click here for this meat-free meatloaf recipe.

-photo by Greg Rannells

Just Five: Cauliflower Fritters

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

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As you may know, I not only pen this column, but also write a regular column for the print issue of Sauce Magazine, Make This. These recipes only require one to two steps and can be tossed together in less than 10 minute with minimal ingredients. Yep, I keep things simple in the kitchen – but simple ain’t always easy.

My goal with that column is to break down recipes to their basic elements and still retain flavor. Former executive editor Ligaya Figueras originally suggested these cauliflower fritters as a Make This recipe. Alas, I quickly realized there was no way to make it work without steaming the cauliflower first – the texture of raw cauliflower was horrible. Since so many steps are a Make This deal breaker, so this recipe moved to my Just Five file.

These fritters are a marriage of roasted cauliflower and latkes, two dishes my family loves. Cauliflower is a great substitute for roasted potatoes, and these are far quicker to make than traditional latkes. Serve them on a bed of lightly dressed arugula or with sour cream mixed with parsley and chives.

 

Cauliflower Fritters
8 to 10 servings

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 4 to 5 cups)
½ cup flour
½ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
1/3 cup water
¼ cup chopped shallot
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

• Place a steamer basket in a large pot with a few inches of water in the bottom over medium-high heat. Steam the cauliflower 6 to 7 minutes, until fork-tender. Remove and immediately rinse cold water.
•Chop cauliflower into small pieces, but not quite minced and place in a large bowl. Add the flour, Parmesan, water, shallot, eggs, salt and pepper and mix well.
• Add the oil to a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Scoop ¼ cup batter into the skillet, pressing gently with a spoon to flatten to ½-inch thick. Fry 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown, then flip and fry another 2 to three minutes. Remove and let drain on a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter.
• Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve warm.

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