Baba Ghanoush

Garden training picnic, 9/19/12

This Middle Eastern eggplant dip is smooth, creamy, tasty, and a perfect introduction to eggplant for people who can be put off by its unusual texture.

  • 2 medium eggplants*
  • 4 cloves garlic*, minced
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup parsley* leaves, chopped

Cook the eggplants directly on a burner (high heat) or on a hot grill. Continue to cook until the skin is completely blackened and the inside is completely soft, about 20-30 minutes. (Alternatively, you can cut the eggplant in half, place it cut side down on a baking sheet, and bake at 450 until completely tender – less mess, although you miss out on smokiness.) Once eggplant is cooked, place in a tightly covered dish to steam for 15-20 minutes. Then, uncover and allow to cool. Peel cooked eggplant using your hands.

Into a food processor, add cooked eggplant flesh, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Blend thoroughly. Then, with the motor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream. The baba ghanoush should become lighter in color and creamy. Add chopped parsley and pulse briefly to combine. Add additional salt to taste if needed.

Serve with crackers or pita.

*These items can be grown right in your garden.


Canning Recipe: Marinated Roasted Bell Peppers
adapted from Simply Recipes

This recipe makes your roasted peppers even more delicious and preserves them to eat all year round. If you don’t want to can, you can stop before the processing step and store your peppers in the fridge to eat within 3 weeks.

  • 1 cup bottled lemon juice
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, quartered
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 pounds bell peppers, roasted (see instructions here)
  • 3 pint-sized canning jars

Heat a large pot of water for canning (water should cover the pint jars by at least an inch). While it heats, prepare marinade: in a large saucepan, combine lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and salt. Bring to a boil.

Dip jars and lids in boiling water to sanitize. Distribute the roasted peppers evenly between the sanitized jars. Pour the hot marinade over, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe rims clean, then place on lids and rings (do not tighten rings too tight).

Place jars in the boiling water for canning. Boil for 15 minutes.  Allow to cool in pot for a few minutes, then remove to cool completely. Jars lids should pop down, showing the can is sealed. Sealed cans can be stored at room temperature for a year. If any jars fail to seal, place in the refrigerator and use within 3 weeks.

Makes 3 pints.

Yogurt Chive Dip

Community garden training snack, 8/8/12 – served with fresh carrots, cucumber, peppers, and kohlrabi

This dip is a healthy, tasty, creamy way to dress up your vegetables or crackers. Chives and garlic can come right from your own garden.

  • 1 clove garlic*, finely chopped (or omit and use garlic salt – see instructions below)
  • 2 tablespoons olive, vegetable, or canola oil
  • 1 cup plain nonfat yogurt, preferably greek-style or strained
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped chives*
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or garlic salt – see instructions below)

If using fresh garlic: in a small saucepan, combine garlic and oil. Heat on medium-low for 3-5 minutes, until the garlic smells very fragrant and begins to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, chives, salt, and the garlic with its oil. Or, if using garlic salt, combine the yogurt and chives with 2 tablespoons oil and the garlic salt.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to mingle, then serve.

Makes 1 cup.

*These items can be grown in your garden.

Broccoli, Bacon, Pasta, and Parmesan Frittata (Spaghetti Omelet)

Committee meeting working lunch, 5/17/12

Frittatas are a great way to use up leftovers. The basic idea is that you can combine any pre-cooked ingredients (broccoli, bacon, and pasta, in this case) with enough eggs to cover them, then add seasonings (parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper, here) and cook until set. A different recipe that follows this basic idea is the Spanish Potato Omelet. Feel free to experiment with this recipe to see what vegetables and starches you like best with your eggs.

  • 4 slices bacon, roughly chopped
  • 3 cups cooked broccoli (steamed, boiled, roasted, leftover – it all works)*
  • 3 cups cooked pasta, any shape (leftovers are perfect for this)
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper, to taste

Heat a large skillet. Add bacon and cook on medium heat until bacon is crisp. Remove bacon to a large bowl and leave grease in the pan. Turn off the heat while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

To the bowl with the bacon, add broccoli and pasta. Add eggs, cracking each into a small bowl or cup before adding it to the large bowl (this is to make sure that a bad egg or pieces of shell won’t ruin your whole mixture). Add cheese, salt, and pepper.

Turn the heat back on under the skillet with the bacon grease. When the grease is very hot, add the egg mixture and allow to cook over medium heat until cooked about halfway through, about 7-10 minutes.

Flipping the frittata: using potholders or oven mitts, place a large plate over the skillet. Take the whole business over the sink (just in case) and flip the half-cooked frittata out of skillet and onto the plate. Put the skillet back on the stove, then slide the frittata back into the pan, raw side down.

Continue to cook until fully cooked through, 5-7 minutes, then flip or slide onto a plate.

Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.

Serves 8.

*Broccoli can be grown in your Nebraska garden.

Whole Wheat Olive Oil Crackers

Committee meeting working lunch, 11/29/11 – served with roasted garlic bean dip

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

This recipe is a bit more time-consuming than the others on this blog, since you have to knead the dough, let it rest, and roll out the crackers very thin with a rolling pin. If you want to impress people with something delicious and unexpected, though, homemade crackers are a great way to do it. These crackers last for up to 4 weeks in a sealed bag or container, without any preservatives whatsoever.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (can substitute regular olive oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil), plus extra for sprinkling

In a bowl, combine the flours and the salt. Add the water and olive oil and mix to form a dough.

Place the dough on a floured counter or cutting board. Knead, folding the dough over on itself and pressing it with the heel of your hand, until the dough is smooth, slightly tacky, and springs back when poked, 7-9 minutes.

Shape the dough into 4 balls. Rub each piece with a little bit of extra olive oil, then cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow to rest one hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Dust two baking sheets with flour.

Take one ball of dough and, using a rolling pin on the floured surface, roll the dough as thinly as possible. Using a pizza wheel or a knife, cut into pieces of the shape and size you want for your crackers. Place cut crackers on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the three remaining balls of dough.

For puffy crackers, put directly into oven. To avoid puffing, poke each cracker a few times with a fork. Bake for 8-12 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.

Roasted Garlic Bean Dip

Committee meeting working lunch, 11/29/11 – Served with carrots, celery, and homemade wheat crackers.

This dip can be made using dried or canned beans. Serve with raw vegetables like carrots, celery, peppers, and broccoli, or with crackers or bread.

½ cup dried beans, any variety (or one can of beans)*
1 head garlic*
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil, divided use

If using dried beans, soak the beans overnight (up to 24 hours) in plenty of water. Then, rinse the beans, put them in a pot, and add water to cover by about 5 inches. Bring beans to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until beans are tender, 1-2 hours (taste them to see when they are done, and overcooked is better than undercooked in this recipe). (Can be done in advance – add a large pinch of salt to the water, cool, and refrigerate in the cooking water for up to 4 days.)

While the beans are cooking, preheat oven to 350º. Cut the top (pointed, gathered end) off of a whole heads of garlic, exposing the cloves. Place in a baking dish, drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil and a pinch of salt, and cover with foil. Roast until tender when cloves are pierced with a knife, 45-60 minutes. Squeeze cloves out of papery exterior. (Can be done in advance – refrigerate until ready to use.)

In a food processor or blender, combine cooked beans (prepared as above, or start at this step using canned beans) with roasted garlic cloves, remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Process or blend until smooth, then add up to 1 tablespoon cooking liquid (or liquid from can) to reach a dip-able consistency. Add salt to taste.

Yield: approximately 1 cup dip

*Both garlic and beans can be grown in Nebraska and stored for long periods of time.

Tortilla Española (Potato Omelet) with Kale

Committee meeting working lunch, 11/29/11 – Served as a large, round sandwich with aioli between homemade bread, cut into wedges.

tortilla española with kale, pre-flip

There’s no kale in a traditional Spanish tortilla, but it’s a simple and tasty addition that incorporates healthy garden produce. You could add in any cooked green of your choosing.

  • 1 bunch kale or other greens (or use leftover cooked greens, or omit)*
  • 1/3 c olive oil (or vegetable oil, if you, like me, are on a very tight budget – don’t tell the Spaniards)
  • 6 medium-sized potatoes, cut into 1/3″ rounds (Spaniards would peel, but I didn’t)*
  • 1 onion, chopped*
  • salt
  • 9 eggs (you may need more or fewer eggs depending on the size of your pan – just make sure the potatoes are submerged in eggs when cooking the tortilla) Read More