Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Quickies: Hummus and Baba Ganoush

I am totally in love with Middle Eastern food. And for the veg-centric eater, your nearest Middle Eastern market is a treasure trove of inexpensive, nutrient-rich eadibles. Last week I was very excited to find fresh eggplant in my garden, however picking the fruit was a little tricky. Who knew they have thorns? Ouchy!!!

My new favorite field trip is Middle East Bakery & Grocery, on the far north side of Chicago. On a recent rainy day, I spent over an hour perusing the very organized shelves of the market. Pita bread was still warm in the packages. Shelves were packed with bulk dried fruits, lentils and fresh spices and herbs.

After receiving amazing recipes for hummus and baba ganoush from one of my yoga students, I was anxious to purchase a little tahini on the way home from my garden. I left the market with bread, cookies, olives, yogurt-cucumber dip and fresh pita chips.

Here are two easy and delicious recipes from the dear Rose Karim so you can make you're own snacks. She encouraged me to alter the recipes to suit my taste, and then to be creative with additional ingredients such as red peppers, pine nuts, and artichokes.

Rose's Hummus

1 can of chick peas (rinse) (16 ounce)
1-2 garlic clove
Juice of 1 lemon or 1 lime (limes have no seeds)
¼ cup of water (add more water if necessary… a little at a time or it will be soupy)
¼ cup of tahini sauce (add to taste)
Salt to taste

Olive Oil
Flat Italian parsley leaves to decorate
Pita Bread

Place rinsed chick peas in food processor (or blender*) add all ingredients with 1/2 the water. Add more water, a little at a time, until you reach the consistency you like. Place on platter drizzle with olive oil.

To compliment dish: cut cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes, olives, hot peppers and etc.

**Blenders have a tendency to get stuck – turn off blender and push with spoon or fork adds a little water at a time until it blends.

Traditionally when eating hummus eat from the outside and work your way to the middle of the plate.


1 large eggplant
1 garlic clove crushed
½ juice of lemon or lime
Chopped Italian Flat Parsley ¼ cup (curly is okay the best is Italian flat parsley)
2 – 3 tablespoons of tahini sauce (add to taste)
Salt to taste
2 – 4 tablespoons of Olive Oil to taste

Pita Bread

Preheat oven to 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. Wash and pierce eggplant several to times with knife, place on foil, ten place in oven for about one hour. Eggplant will look prune like and soft when done.

For a chunkier texture, follow this method:

Place garlic glove in a bowl with salt and crush. When eggplant is done, peel, place in bowl and smash with fork. Add lemon juice and tahini sauce, and mix well with fork; at the end add chopped parsley. Place on platter drizzle with olive oil.

For smoother texture, follow this method:

Place garlic clove in food processor until smooth. Add with parsley and chopped. Add baked, grilled, peeled eggplant with lemon juice, salt and process or pulse until you reach desire consistency. Place on platter drizzle with olive oil.

Note: Eggplant is extremely hot-- be careful when peeling.

Grill Eggplant instead of oven roast.

You could grill (pierce) eggplant on a grill for that smoky flavor, but you must turn it every ten minutes – always place eggplant on foil. Eggplant is done when it looks prune up and soft when done. Be careful not to over grill the eggplant. It will swivel up quickly and turn charcoal like.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Late Farmer's Market Find

Autumn is my favorite season, and this is one of my favorite things to whip up with the last treasures of my farmer's market. This is total comfort food, and tastes especially great with a glass of wine and a slice of olive bread. Yummy!

Spicy Butternut Squash Risotto with Mushrooms

1 small butternut squash
1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
1 small onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, sliced thin
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon allspice
1 cup chopped mushrooms
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup Arborio or long-grain rice
1/4 cup dry white wine (I used some leftover Sancerre, but just whatever)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Put halves, cut side down, in a shallow baking pan with about an inch of water in the bottom. Bake squash in middle of oven 20-30 minutes, or until you can pierce easily.

In a saucepan bring broth and water to a simmer and keep at a bare simmer.
In another saucepan cook onion, garlic, and mushrooms in butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Stir in rice and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed. Stir in 1/4 cup broth and cook, stirring constantly, and keeping simmering, until absorbed.

Continue simmering and adding broth, about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding next, until about half of broth has been added. Scoop squash into rice and continue simmering and adding broth in same manner until rice is tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, about 18 minutes. Stir in sage and salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon risotto into 2 shallow serving bowls and garnish with sage and oodles of parmesan.