Wednesday, August 14, 2013

the summer vegetable hit parade

This is one of the most beautiful pictures I have ever displayed in my blog:


I feel like I have finally regained my cooking mojo, and, even more impressively, my healthy cooking mojo. I have several sources to thank, one of which is at last buying my own groceries and living in a wonderfully healthful place where the farmer’s market is cheap, walking everywhere is easy, and the people around me all dig health too. Believe me, many North Carolina posts to come. Life is good here!

Let’s wind down some pictures from back when I lived in the somewhat exhausting DC suburbs. I was finding joy in soaking up my last days with the family (and CAT!) for a good long while. I was making delicious food for them.  As an added bonus, when I feel like cooking delicious and healthy food, I also feel like photographing it. I feel like my cooking creativity has finally reappeared!

So back to this layered fusion-type business:

(That upside down flip flop in the background of the picture is obviously a deeply meaningful postmodern symbol. I’ll let you come up with your own interpretation).

On to the dish. Beginning with the eggplant.

To make eggplant any good without involving extraordinary quantities of fat, you must salt it. Just slice it, spread the slices out on a cutting board, liberally salt both sides, and let ‘em sit there for awhile.

You’ll note some condensation.


Once that’s happened, brush the slices with a clean kitchen towel, then wipe them with olive oil. It obviously tastes better with quite a lot of olive oil; and don’t skimp too much even if you’re fat preoccupied because they’ll just be dry and grody.

Under the broiler with them, til they look like this:


Meanwhile, make yourself some chickpea flour batter. Any respectable socca recipe (I used Mark Bittman’s from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian but the Internet is riddled with additional ones) will do. I seasoned this less aggressively than I do when I’m serving it straight up, so the flavors wouldn’t compete too much with the other ingredients in the stack o’ goodness.


To get tortilla-like shapes for layering with my veggies, I cooked the batter in a skillet, like you would pancakes. The chickpea flapjacks came out surprisingly adorable. I now understand much better how one could make injera at home.


Then I threw together an exceedingly quick sauce with basically just olive oil, tomatoes, and fresh herbs. And so the layering could begin.


Simultaneously fancy looking, healthy, and dead easy, this is a technique that I will be incorporating into many other recipes. Chickpea flapjacks+veggie layers= boss. I think tahini sauce may be in the future, too…


Certain people named my boyfriend left an ENORMOUS bag of kale in my refrigerator when certain people left town. ENORMOUS. Like a SLEEPING BAG FULL OF KALE.

Fortunately, I have two words for you: kale pie.

Leftover phyllo dough? Don’t mind if I do.


Filling can include any of your desired combinations of:
- Kale (duh). At various points I reappropriated leftover kale chips and leftover steam kale into my kale pies, and both worked brilliantly
- Eggs (or egg yolks made into a custard with milk)
- Cheese (parmesan, goat, or feta would be nice; but I used cheddar one time and that was tasty too)
- Fresh herbs of your choice, with parsley being a very nice choice
- Lemon zest or juice
- WALNUTS! Give it a nice extra shazam

I first used phyllo dough because it is reminiscent of classic spanikopita for this recipe, and had also been languishing in my fridge for quite some time. However, in a later version I made a homemade whole wheat and olive oil pie crust and it was mighty delicious too.

I photographed this pie immediately after it came from the oven, so it was steaming quite powerfully. But you get the idea.


More summer goodness to come, from the state with Carolina blue skies!

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