Spiced Eggplant with Savoy, Lentil and Pomegranate Salad

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It’s becoming more obvious everyday. I think I finally need to make the move, the one I planned to a couple of years ago but got sidetracked by other travels, it’s time to come and live in London for a while. It’s a weird thing, to want to come and live in one of the biggest and coldest cities I’ve ever been to, but I feel there is so much opportunity for me here, as well as one of my dearest friends, and, when it gets too cold, I’ll just shoot off down to Spain or Morocco and warm the cockles. Anyway, I’ve got a few more months here in Europe, I’m sure I’ll have more of an idea by the time we head back to Australia.

So, we finally got to catch up last night, my dear friend and I. The conversation did not have more than a two second gap in it for about five hours straight. I was so excited to cook for her and wanted to make something wholesome and delicious, but, as it is when travelling, I’m also restricted by the ingredients I can use. Luckily there were some spices in the cupboard here and I was able to find the rest of the ingredients in the endless Middle Eastern grocers lining the main street here. So much pita bread!

If large enough, the eggplants are sufficient on there own as a meal, but we ate them alongside some warmed pita bread, hummus and a quinoa salad. Find the recipe for my favourite creamy hummus here.

I adapted this recipe from Green Kitchen Stories, one of my favourite food blogs to turn to when I want some inspiration for a truly healthy and wholesome meal. I also made some little chocolate and almond cakes for dessert, completely sugar, dairy and gluten free. They were so delicious! Unfortunately we were too busy eating and talking to think to get any photos by the time dessert came around!

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Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 large eggplant

Olive oil

2 tbs garam masala

2 tbs curry powder

1 tsp cayenne pepper

salt and pepper

Salad

1 small savoy cabbage, finely sliced

400g can puy lentils, rinsed and drained well

Bunch parsley, finely chopped

1 pomegranate, arils (seeds) removed

1 tbs olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tbs maple syrup

salt and pepper

To serve, hummus, pita bread, quinoa salad (optional)

Method

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

Cut the eggplants in half lengthways and use the tip of a knife to cut a criss cross pattern, about 1cm deep, into the flesh. Drizzle well with olive oil, using fingers to rub all over. Sprinkle with the spices, salt and pepper, and use fingers to rub spices into the cuts. Drizzle with more olive oil if they feel too dry. Place in the oven and cook, for about 45-50mins, or until flesh is dark on top and soft in the centre.

Meanwhile, for the salad, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Blanch the cabbage, for 1min, drain and rinse under cold water. Leave to drain as much water out as possible. In a small jar, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, salt and pepper and shake well. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, lentils, parsley and dressing and toss to combine.

To serve, place the eggplants on a large serving platter, scatter the salad over the tops and sprinkle with the pomegranate. Serve with sides such as hummus, pita bread and quinoa salad. Enjoy!

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Baked Okra with Spiced Stuffing (Vegan, Gluten Free)

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If you’ve ever heard anything about okra it probably hasn’t been anything good. It isn’t a commonly used vegetable in Australia despite it’s ability to grow well in a very hot climate. In Australia you will most commonly see it in curries or stir fries, which I’ve had a few of and thoroughly enjoyed. However, when they are cooked by this method they release a gelatinous fluid, great as a thickening agent but also a texture that lots of people don’t enjoy. So, to try something different, I started looking into some lesser known ways of preparing them and through some recommendations from friends, and some research, I came across a few recipes for stuffed okra or ‘ Bharwan Bhindi’. Bharwan Bindi is an indian dish of stuffed okra and is usually deep fired and served alongside curries and rice. I wanted to make them a little more healthy and so baked them, and rather than have them as a side, served them alongside other delicious deli goods, dips and flatbread as a kind of middle eastern mezze feast. It was so moorish and delicious. Fun to eat and share at a big table with some drinks and friends.

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Recipe

Ingredients

30-40 okra

4 tbs desiccated coconut

6 tbs chopped cashews

4 tbs sesame seeds

2 tbs chopped parsley

2 tbs chopped coriander

1 long red chilli, de-seeded, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp fresh turmeric, grated

1 tsp fresh ginger, grated

1 tsp each of ground cumin, coriander and garam masala

3 prunes, finely chopped

juice of 1 lime

1 tsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

salt and pepper

lime wedges, yoghurt, harissa, olives, hummus, flat breads and any other deli goods, to serve OR, serve alongside a dahl or other curry and some rice, raita and flatbreads. (all optional)

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180 Degrees Celcius. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Wash the okra with cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Leave on a clean tea-towel to dry while you prepare the stuffing.

For the stuffing, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and use your hands to really mix well and combine the flavours. Test if it’s wet enough by squeezing together in your hand, it should hold it’s shape. If it’s too dry and crumbly, add a little more oil.

For the okra, trim off the tops and cut a slit down one side, lengthways, without going through to the other side. Slide your thumb down through the cut to pry open enough space to put the stuffing in.

Use your fingers to press the stuffing into each okra, you will need about 1 tsp of stuffing per okra. Rub the outside of each okra with the mixture as well, it won’t stick but it will add flavour.

Lay them all on the lined tray, cut side up, and drizzle with a little extra olive oil.

Bake for 25-30 mins or until stuffing is dark golden and okra is tender.

Remove from oven and allow to cool on tray for 5 mins before serving on their own or with your choice of sides.

 

Hummus Plate with Spiced Cauliflower and Macadamias

DSC_0531 DSC_0529Hummus would definitely have to be one of my top ten favourite dishes. Oh, thy humble chickpea, how I love thee. Simple hummus on a cracker or a carrot stick is so tasty and nourishing; wait till you try it like this. In Israel, hummus is often eaten as a meal, topped with delicious treats such as olives, chilli paste, fresh tomato, parsley, olive oil, and even spiced lamb mince, scooped up in a piece of flat bread….heavenly!

There is so much I could say here about how amazing hummus is, from it’s nutritional benefits, history, tradition, different recipe methods, etc, I would have to write a referenced essay to properly explain it all and I’m pretty sure most people don’t care THAT much.

Chickpeas can often cause a lot of people a bit of grief in the ‘gas’ department. But recent chats with an Israeli friend concluded that the traditional method of soaking and boiling the chickpeas with some bi-carb soda and then scooping the skins from the surface of the water, can greatly reduce this unfortunate occurrence. I haven’t included that method in this recipe but simply google it for the how to. Alternatively, use Yotam Ottelenghi’s recipe for hummus, it’s the best I’ve ever had, and very simple. My recipe here is a quick and simple version, but still delicious, especially with the scrumptious topping!

The crispy garlic and whole chickpeas are so good, you could even cook these up in a bigger batch and serve them on their own as a snack with some cold beers. Replace the purple cauliflower with regular white cauliflower or broccoli if you like. 

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Recipe

Serves 4 as a starter

Ingredients

Hummus

1 clove garlic

410g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained, 1/4 reserved for frying

1/4 cup tahini

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup cold water

salt and pepper

Crispy Garlic and Chickpeas

2 tablespoons macadamia oil

reserved chickpeas (1/4 can)

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

salt

Spiced Cauliflower

1 tablespoon macadamia oil

1 cauliflower, florets separated, large ones halved or quartered

1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1 1/2 tsp sumac

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

salt and pepper

1/2 cup parsley

1/2 cup roasted macadamias, chopped

To serve

1 lemon, quartered

handful of chopped parsley

macadmia oil

warmed flat bread

Method

To make the hummus, place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until very smooth. Set aside.

For the crispy garlic and chickpeas, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Fry the chickpeas and garlic, sprinkled with a generous pinch of salt, until golden and crispy. Remove from pan and set aside.

For the cauliflower, in the same pan, on medium, heat the macadamia oil and add the spices, cauliflower, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring often, until the cauliflower is just cooked through, about 10 mins, you may need to add a splash of water if it’s getting too dry. Remove from heat. Stir through the parsley, macadamias and crispy garlic and chickpeas.

To serve, spread the hummus out onto a large plate, top with the cauliflower mixture, drizzle with extra oil, sprinkle with extra parsley and squeeze over the lemon. Serve with the warmed flat bread. Enjoy!