Back-to-Basics Eggplant Dip

The eggplant phase continues. I have so many yummy dip recipes but rarely have occasions to make them for. So, I decided that I shouldn’t need an event to make an appetizer recipe. While this eggplant dip is very simple, it’s rich with flavor and a perfect mid-afternoon snack.

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Ingredients:

1 large eggplant
> 3 cloves garlic, minced
> 1/4 teaspoon salt
> 2 tablespoons tahini
> 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450°. Prick eggplant with a fork, and place it on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until eggplant is tender. Let the eggplant cool.

Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, and scoop the pulp into a food processor. Process until smooth, and transfer to a medium bowl.

On a cutting board, mash garlic with the flat side of a knife. Add the garlic and salt to the eggplant. Stir in the tahini and lemon juice. Season with more salt, to taste.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from FitSugar.

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Slow Cooker Eggplant & Chickpea Stew

Slow cookers are a dream come true for busy people who are always running from one place to the next. When I get home starving, the last thing I want to do is cook for an hour. I’ll be experimenting with different slow cooker recipes, and since I’ve been loving eggplant lately, the first one I tried is an eggplant and chickpea stew.

The stew turned out well but could use additional spices and herbs if I were to remake it.

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Ingredients:

1/2 cups vegetable broth
> 1 large eggplant
> 1 large onion, diced
> 6 cloves garlic, minced
> 1 tablespoon olive oil
> 1 teaspoon salt
> 1 teaspoon ground pepper
> 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
> 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Cut eggplant in half lengthwise, and brush the cut sides with olive oil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, cut-side down, and roast for about 25 minutes, or until tender.

Let stand until cool enough to handle. Cut into 1-inch cubes and transfer to a slow cooker.

Meanwhile, add the vegetable broth, onions, garlic, salt and pepper to the slow cooker. Transfer the cubed eggplant to the slow cooker, and cook for about 8 hours on low. Stir in chickpeas and tomatoes. Cook for 30 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from Eating Well.

Farro Salad with Hints of Citrus

Farro is a grain that I have never been very familiar with, but after having this farro salad at The Buttery in Santa Cruz, I knew I had to make it. The basic elements are the same, yet the dressing is hard to pinpoint so I experimented with my own version of dressing. This salad can be served hot or cold, although room temperature is preferable.

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Ingredients:

> 1 1/2 cups farro, uncooked
> 4 handfuls spinach, torn into bite-size pieces
> 4 handfuls shaved carrots
> 1 cup dried cranberries
> 1 orange, peeled and separated into 1/4″ pieces
> 2 handfuls chopped walnuts
> orange muscat champagne vinegar from Trader Joe’s

Instructions:

Cook farro according to the package. Let cool and mix in spinach, carrots, and dried cranberries. After 5 minutes of cooling, add orange pieces and chopped walnuts. Stir in dressing and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve at room temperature or chill before serving.

Makes 4 servings

Lentil and Red Pepper Bake

Lentils are one of those foods that I often order at restaurants since I hardly ever prepare them. Lentil soup, lentils in Indian cuisine, and lentils in veggie burgers are the first dishes that come to mind, so when I stumbled upon this recipe, I knew I had to try it. This baked dish requires some preparation but is perfect for having a hearty warm meal, full of flavors.

Lentil and Red Pepper Bake

Ingredients:

> 1 teaspoon olive oil
> 1 large onion, finely chopped
> 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
> 1/2 cup green lentils
> 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
> 3 red bell peppers, chopped
> one 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes
> 1 ounce shredded mozarella cheese
> rosemary twigs, separated
> salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°.  Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes until the onions are translucent.

Add lentils and vegetable broth and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add red peppers and canned tomatoes and mix well.

Transfer the mixture to a 9-by-9 baking pan and sprinkle cheese on top. Cook in oven for 30 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from FitSugar.

Lentil and Red Pepper Bake

Spiced Chickpeas with Quinoa and Yogurt

Chickpeas are a staple in my kitchen. Just ask my roommate who found a drawer filled with nine cans of chickpeas after a Costco trip! Nonetheless, I’m always looking for new ways to cook with chickpeas. A classic go-to meal for me is roasted or steamed vegetables with chickpeas — simple yet flavorful and healthy. One night when I was in the mood for a dish with more texture and spice, I stumbled upon this recipe. This is a simple recipe that doesn’t require many ingredients. Plus it can be modified in many ways to satisfy your tastebuds.

Spiced Chickpeas

Ingredients: 

> 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
> 1 large onion, finely chopped
> 3 large garlic cloves, minced
> 1 teaspoon ground cumin
> one 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
> 3 handfuls fresh spinach
> 1 cup water
> 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
> salt and freshly ground pepper
> 1 1/3 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt

Instructions:

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook over medium-high heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the cumin and cook for 1 minute. Add the chickpeas, spinach and water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice and boil, uncovered, until the liquid is thickened, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve alone or over a cooked grain (I chose quinoa) and top with yogurt.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from Food & Wine.