When Lola offered me to contribute to her amazing blog for the Meatless Monday column, I was touched and honored - and also just a little bit freaked out. I'm obviously a veggie lover, (or so I think) but does that make me an expert? When it comes down to it, what's my most coveted meatless recipe that I would first like to share with you, Lola's beloved readers?
You will find many recipes on my blog that I actually cooked for group dinners. I love to have guests over for humble entertaining. But, very often, I won't have much time for prepping, much less taking proper pictures. So my philosophy whenever I'm having guests over is to try and come up with something that's rather simple - but nonetheless surprising. And when I'm lacking inspiration for such occasions, I find myself often relying on one thing- simple, shiny eggplants. Why? Because it has got to be the most versatile and exciting vegetable of all! It's texture goes from firm (when grilled or roasted) to squishy (when pureed like in a Baba Ganoush). And oh, the many things it seduces me to do with it. It basically begs me to be turned into a lovely dish.
The best thing about eggplant, also called aubergines of course, is that you can develop a recipe to your liking as you go along, as I most often do. I particularly like eggplant with Arab spices, such as Ras el Hanout (which is a sophisticated spice mix that includes cardamom, pepper, cinnamon and - fancily - roses), or cumin too. Or sometimes curry. Almost always, I would add a handful of fresh cilantro and pomegranate seeds at the end - for both, color and bite.
This simple salad can be whipped up in under half an hour. You will find there's enough time to entertain your guests and tell each other stories of 1001 nights. Or get the belly dancing started (cough cough).
- 3 medium eggplants, cut into slices or wedges
- olive oil for brushing
- 2 tbs pine nuts, toasted
- a handful of pomegranate seeds
- 20 basil leaves
- coarse sea salt and black pepper
- pinch of saffron strands
- 3 tbs hot water
- 1 cup Greek yoghurt
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 tbs lemon juice
- 3 tbs olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- For the sauce, infuse the saffron in the hot water in a small bowl for 5 minutes. Pour the infusion into a bowl containing the yoghurt, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and some salt. Whisk well to get a smooth, golden sauce. Taste and adjust the salt, if necessary, then chill.
- Place the eggplant slices on a roasting tray, brush with plenty of olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until the slices take on a beautiful light brown colour. Let them cool down.
- To serve, arrange the eggplant slices on a large plate, slightly overlapping. Drizzle the saffron yoghurt over them, sprinkle with the pine nuts and pomegranate seeds and lay the basil on top.
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 cups organic butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 bourbon vanilla bean, split and extracted
- 4 organic eggs
- 2 tbsp. orange blossom water
- 1 cup cream
- 5 strawberries
- 2 cups confectioner's sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a bundt pan or a mini bundt pan if you are entertaining.
- Sift flour into a bowl, and combine with baking powder and salt.
- Mix together the butter with sugar, until light and creamy. Add the vanilla bean and orange blossom water. Add the eggs one by one. Now carefully add the flour mixture and the cream to the egg-mix.
- Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for about 1 hour, until a stick comes out clean.
- Cool for 30 minutes and then release from the form.
- Puree the strawberries and strain through a fine sieve and combine the juice with the confectioner's sugar. Add more sugar or s sprinkle of lemon juice until desired thickness is achieved. Stir until the glaze is shiny. Pour over the bundt cake.
The eggplant goes well with flat bread as well, and you can use it to slop up the yogurt sauce. Or with lamb skewers - but we're not having them on Meatless Mondays, obviously... (so shhh...).