Banana-nut pancakes

Shopsin's: Banana pancakes (dare I ask for the nuts they forgot)

Vegetable dumplings and pork sesame pancake

Vanessa's Dumpling, Eldridge Street: Vegetable dumplings and pork sesame pancake

Momofuku cereal-milk ice cream with caramelized cornflakes

Momofuku Milk: Cereal-milk ice cream with caramelized cornflakes

The Tulsa: on the menu at Lobo, Cobble Hill

Lobo, Cobble Hill: Tulsa on the menu!

Bahn Mi at Baoguette

Baoguette, Grammercy: Pork Bahn Mi

Half a Bahn Mi at Baoguette

Baoguette: Literally a $5 foot long, but a really good one

Pakistani on Crosby Street

Lahore, Crosby Street: Pakistani, frequented by cabbies and myself

Best Vegetarian Lunch: Lentils, spinach and okra on Basmati

Lahore's Vegetarian Lunch: Lentils, spinach and okra (camera phone not doing justice)

Terrace Bagels Weekend Special: half whitefish salad, half Nova lox

Terrace Bagels, Windsor Terrace: Weekend special half whitefish salad, half lox

The Bark Dog at Barks Dogs, Park Slope

Barks Dogs, Park Slope: The Bark Dog with pickled hot peppers and the most delicious buttery, toasted bun!

Egg_eggplant

Sunny Eggs with Mediterranean Baba

Summer veg fusilli_3

Eve's tomatoes and broccoli with arugula pesto and mozz

My first taste of Baba Ghanoush. It was college–I was a late Ghanoush bloomer–at a Middle Eastern restaurant in the Lower Greenville neighborhood of Dallas. I took one bite and exclaimed, “this is baba-gha-burnt!” Clearly I was not a fan of the strong smoky flavor of tahini.

I still find tahini a bit harsh, so why was Baba Ghanoush the first thing to pop in my head when we got a gorgeous purple-striped eggplant from our farm share? I’ll blame the raging August heat that is begging for some cold food. A cool, versatile spread that can get you through the week without turning on the oven? Priceless, right?

Well, okay, I used the energy-efficient toaster oven. The eggplant halves just fit onto the toaster oven tray. Meant to be. Check out the Mediterranean-inspired (tahini-less) recipe below.

I also pulled a container of arugula pesto from the freezer. Its spiciness pairs well with the naturally-sweet farm produce in the fridge–heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn, baby eggplants and broccoli–to name a few. So, I’m getting some miles out of my spreads and it’s only Wednesday! Some pairings to try:

Goat cheese and Baba quesadillas with arugula pesto and sweet corn

Sungold tomatoes with Baba dip

Whole wheat fusilli with arugula pesto, farm veggies and fresh mozzarella (pictured)

Sunny-side up eggs on Baba-smeared flax toast (pictured)

Mediterranean Baba

Makes about 3 cups

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained, not rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 7-8 cleaned basil leaves, julienned or coarsely chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp toasted pine nuts, optional
  1. Preheat toaster oven to 350. Cut eggplant in half and rub with 1 Tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cut the tips off the garlic cloves & rub with oil as well. Place eggplant on a bake sheet, cut side down, with garlic and roast 25 minutes. Turn off oven and let the eggplant sit in warm oven another 5 minutes. You should be able to easily pierce the eggplant with a fork. Let cool.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, pour chickpeas and smash with the back of a fork to desired texture.  Scoop the room-temperature eggplant from its skin and into the bowl (but don’t throw out the skin, it’s delicious!). Squeeze the roasted garlic  into the bowl. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, the vinegar or lemon juice, and basil. Mash together until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with pine nuts, if using.
  3. Transfer to an air-tight container and refrigerate several hours or overnight (dip will thicken). Enjoy as a dip with vegetables, on quesadillas, pizzas, sandwiches, or by the spoonful!

Veggie Rehab

August 17, 2009

tractor_image

Obesity and over-crowded prisons. Both big problems.

This NY Times piece (article link below) got me thinking about a new course for rehabilitation and correction programs in this country. An approach that could possibly tackle the bulging waistlines issue as well. At Renewal Farm in Garrison, NY, recovering addicts are growing over 1200 pounds of food annually for a local country club (in exchange for land); but, what if they were growing for local schools and other community non-profits?

The dollars spent on rehabilitating these individuals could come back to the community in the form of healthy meals for children and seniors. And program participants could receive culinary job training. Does anyone know of other programs where recovering addicts or inmates are growing food for the communities in which they live?

Two Acres of Hope for Recovering Addicts