Sunday, October 19, 2014

Roasted eggplant salad with a peanut butter and sesame oil dressing

Peanut butter pairs well with Asian flavors. Soba noodles with a peanut sauce is a very popular Asian dish. I used the same concept and paired it with the smoky roasted eggplant. The combination was fabulous. The addition of the spring onions gives the dish a break from its very brown color. The peanut butter dressing gives the dish a very rich flavor.
You could use this sauce with Soba noodles as well.

Roasted Eggplant salad with a peanut butter and sesame oil dressing

3 Asian eggplants - each 6 inches long (these are the light purple variety available in Asian markets or farmers markets)
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame chili oil
1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon finely minced ginger
1 spring onion, finely sliced

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the eggplants in a single layer. Make small slits in the eggplant to prevent it from bursting while they are being roasted.
  3. If they are slender, they should be done in 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. When cool enough to handle, cut off the top of the eggplant and remove the skin. Cut the eggplants into 1 1/2 inch pieces and arrange on the serving dish.
  5. In the meantime, in a small bowl, mix the peanut butter, with the toasted sesame oil, sesame chili oil, rice wine vinegar and the soy sauce to thin it out. Now add the minced ginger and garlic to the sauce. Drizzle the sauce over the eggplant. Sprinkle the sliced spring onion and serve.
Serves 3

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Potato salad with roasted artichokes and castelvetrano olives

This french style potato salad gets a twist with the addition of roasted artichokes and sweet green olives. Fingerling potatoes are available in different colors - thereby adding to the visual appeal of the salad. However, any starchy potato would work in this salad. Bottled artichoke hearts in brine makes this recipe quick and easy. I roast the artichoke hearts with garlic powder and dried chili flakes giving them a robust flavor to add to its meaty texture.
Castelvetrano olives are a good addition, since they are sweet contrasting with the tangy artichoke hearts. If you decide to use fresh artichokes, then kalamata olives would be a better choice in this recipe than the green sweet olives. A good handful of parsley at the end adds a wonderful bright, fresh flavor to the otherwise tangy salad.

Potato salad with roasted artichokes and castelvetrano olives
0.75 lbs red thumb and regular fingerling potatoes (half of each)
4 large artichoke hearts, soaked in brine
8 castelvetrano olives, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch of dried chili flakes
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Boil the potatoes with skin for about 10 minutes (depending on the size). The potatoes should not be overcooked. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel the skin and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Transfer them to the serving dish.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Chop the artichoke lengthwise into 4 pieces and dab the excess brine with a kitchen towel. Toss the dried artichokes with 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic powder and dried chili flakes. Add a pinch of salt as well. Roast in the middle rack of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes till the artichokes are a little brown. Remove and add to the boiled potatoes.
  3. Add the sliced olives to the artichoke and potatoes. 
  4. Make a dressing with the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Add salt to taste and freshly ground black pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad. Add the chopped parsley and toss everything till the dressing is well mixed and the parsley is even distributed.
Serves 3