Thursday, March 27, 2014

Baba Ghanouj

Baba Ghanouj in Lebanon and Baba Ghanoush elsewhere - both are delicious, somewhat the same with a few nuances to tell them apart. This is a Baba Ghanouj the way I like it!
A few simple ingredients, no work on the stove is a perfect way to cook these days, since life has been too busy otherwise.
Roasted eggplants, spiked with tahini ( a sesame seed paste), garlic, lemon and parsley with a final drizzle of extra virgin olive oil - it is as easy as that. If you are able to roast the eggplants over an open flame, the smokiness acquired by the eggplant add additional flavor. It is important to use good quality tahini for this dish as it is a very strong flavor and could completely change the flavor of the dish if not of good quality.

Baba Ghanouj
1 large eggplant - preferably without seeds
2 tablespoons tahini
4 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small clove of garlic minced
1 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. 
  2. Wash the eggplant and make a few slits but not all the way through. Place on a foil lined baking tray and place the tray in the middle rack of the oven. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes depending on the size of the eggplant. The skin should start to shrivel and peel off easily. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  3. Once cool, peel the eggplant and place in a food processor along with the minced garlic and pulse a few times till the eggplant is almost a puree. Add the tahini, salt and lemon juice and pulse a few times. Now add 1 tablespoon  olive and pulse a couple more times. Finally add two tablespoons of parsley and pulse till there are green flecks remaining.
  4. Transfer to a serving bowl. Before serving, stir in 2 tablespoons of minced parsley and drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.
  5. Serve with warm pita bread.
Serves 4

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cream of Asparagus soup with leeks and peas

This picture didn't have the best light - hence the soup looks a strange shade of green, but once you get past that, it is delicious. No cream or any other dairy, but perfectly creamy. Asparagus is the star of this soup with the leeks providing the backdrop and the peas feature at the end for a textural contrast and a sweet pop. The asparagus tips are added at the end for visual appeal and texture as well.

Cream of Asparagus Soup with Leeks and Peas
1 ½ pounds fresh asparagus
4 cups vegetable stock or water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup minced leeks, white and light green parts only
1 large clove minced garlic
Kosher salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
½ cup petite frozen peas (defrosted)

1. Trim about 1 to 1 1/2 inches from the tops of the asparagus and save the tips for garnish. Break off the woody stems and cut the remaining stalks into 1 inch pieces. In a 3 quart pot, melt the butter over medium high heat and add the minced leeks. Cook for about 3 minutes till the leeks are tender. Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the chopped asparagus, salt and pepper and stir for a couple of minutes. Add vegetable stock or water and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes till the asparagus is very tender.

2. In the meantime, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil to blanch the asparagus tips. Add the saved asparagus tips, and let them cook for 2 to 3 minutes. They should be crisp tender. Keep a bowl of ice water handy to place the tips once they are blanched. Once the tips are ready, place them in ice water to stop the cooking for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the ice water and keep it ready for garnish.

3. Once the asparagus is tender, puree the mixture in batches using a food processor or blender. If you have an immersion blender, the soup can be blended in the pot itself. Return the pureed soup to medium heat. Add the defrosted peas and cook stirring till the soup is warmed through and the peas are not too crunchy.
4.     Now transfer to serving bowls and garnish with the blanched asparagus tips. If desired parmesan cheese can be grated on top.

Serves 4 to 6