"Things won are done,
Joy's Soul lies in the Doing."
- William Shakespeare

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Out of the Box, Take 4

Our weekly CSA box has now entered the realm of serious summer veg.  The vining vegetables.  Oh yes.  Summer squash, tomatoes, cucumbers...and my nemesis:  eggplant.

I want to be able to state emphatically:  "I've never met a vegetable I didn't like."  But it's simply not true.  The egglant and I have never seen eye to eye.  It voluptuously lounges there like the favorite concubine in the sultan's harem; richly colored, temptingly curvy.  "Look at me, I'm gorgeous, how can you not adore me?"  it pouts.  To which I prudishly reply:  "Oh yes, I know about you.  Beautiful on the outside...but inside? That greedy interior, soaking up more than your fair share of oil and flavor, and that inexplicable taste...Begone, vile temptress!" 

Okay, it's getting weird here.  Not sure how I just adopted the role of a disapproving missionary...the imagination sometimes gets a little out of control.

Anyway.  Two beautiful eggplants came in our box this week, and not being one to waste food; likewise, usually being one to accept a challenge...I confronted my nemesis.  And made:

Baba Ghanoush.  It goes with the harem analogy though, right?  (That must be where my mind was going...)  Not so pretty once the skin is removed, but this is, so far, the only way I enjoy eggplant.  Slightly smoky, from roasting in the oven, a little savoriness from tahini, creamy with the addition of yogurt, and a bit of tart from lemon juice.  Delightful, actually.

And since one cannot live on baba ghanoush alone...I made a little middle eastern spread last night.  We had some cheese, olives and flatbread to accompany.  And a marvelous...and I mean marvelous, grilled zucchini salad.  Or rather, grilled Ronde de Nice summer squash salad.  Even the girl, who loathes zucchini, enjoyed it.

You might say it was an evening of confronting our fears.  Facing down our demons.  In the form of pretty vegetables.

I wonder who won?  The veg...or the girls?  Both perhaps.

Baba Ghanoush - adapted from Street Food
- makes, um, a fair bit...About 2 cups, depending on the size of your eggplant

2 medium eggplants, or 3 small to medium-ish
4 large, fresh garlic cloves, or 2 to 3 regular garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs tahini
pinch of cayenne
juice of one lemon
1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs Greek-style, plain yogurt
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place the eggplants on a preheated grill, or under a hot broiler, and roast for 10 - 12 minutes, until the skin is blistered and charred on all sides.  Keep turning the eggplant with tongs, every few minutes, while they're roasting.  Remove from heat and place in a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let cool.  The resulting steam will loosen the charred skin, and further cook the eggplant.  When cool, remove the skin, and cut the eggplant into chunks.

Place garlic, eggplant, tahini, cayenne, and salt and pepper in a food processor, and process until smooth.  Add the lemon juice, then, with the motor running, slowly add the olive oil in a thin stream.  When it is all combined, stir in the yogurt.

Check the seasoning, and adjust if necessary.  Serve with heaps of flatbread.

Salatet Kousa - Zucchini Salad - adapted from Street Food
 - serves 4 to 6

About 2 1/4 lb small zucchini, or ronde de nice summer squash *
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for grilling
2 large, fresh garlic cloves, or 1 large regular garlic clove, minced
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
4 Tbs lemon juice
small bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves only, coarsely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

*Note*  You want a fairly dry squash here, or else it will go soggy.  If your squash is particulary seedy, simply remove the middle, seedy section before grilling.

Slice the summer squash into 1/4 inch thick rounds and toss with a small amount of olive oil and salt and pepper.  Place on preheated barbecue, over medium high heat, and grill until slightly charred lines appear, then flip, and repeat, about 3 or so minutes per side.  You should still have some firm texture to the squash, don't let it soften over too low a heat.

If using the ronde de nice, or other large squash, cut into attractive, bite-size pieces after grilling.  I cut mine into sixths, like you would a pizza.

Mix the garlic, lemon juice, spices, and then whisk in the olive oil.  Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, then add the warm, grilled squash to the dressing, toss to combine, and let it sit at room temperature for an hour, to allow the flavors to mingle and develop.

Serve as part of a mezze selection, or with grilled meat or fish.


  1. The zucchini salad is one of the most unique ways I've tried to use up squash from the garden. Thank you! Absolutely delicious.

  2. Glad you liked it, we've made it several times now. It's definitely a new staple round our house!