Eggplant Dip Topped with Fattoush Salad

fattoush-eggplant-dip2

I realize I profess my love for eggplants all the time, but this eggplant dip topped with a variation on fattoush salad is everything I dream about when I dream about food (the vast majority of my waking hours). If you’ve read this recipe for Ridiculously Simple and Creamy Eggplant Dip and tried it out for yourself, whether you left it true to form or tried any of the other suggested additions, then you’ll know the value of roasting a whole eggplant until it looks like a shrivelled up witch’s foot. This isn’t a true fattoush salad as I’ve added a few extra ingredients but it’s definitely reminiscent of the original; I admit that when I have a jar of pickled peperoncini peppers in the fridge I feel compelled to add them to just about everything. This has become a beloved party dip over the span of a month and I’ve eaten it solo in my pyjamas for dinner at least 5 times (I don’t bother with anything to use as a dipping vessel, a fork does just fine thank you very much). As long as you make sure to drain the cut up tomatoes and cucumber on some paper towel before adding them to the eggplant base you can have leftovers the next day, just be warned that raw garlic seems to become exponentially stronger after a night sitting in the fridge – approach with caution.

Brown shallow earthenware bowl filled with eggplant dip and with a topping of fattoush salad

eggplant dip topped with fattoush salad:

for the eggplant dip:

1 eggplant, scored several times and roasted whole at 425 degrees for 1 hour or until black and shrivelled on the outside

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. plain yogurt

1-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 tsp. Ras El Hanout

Juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Scoop out the custardy eggplant insides and combine in a large bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Use a large fork to whip the mixture into a frenzy until it becomes a creamy and relatively smooth dip. Set aside while you make the fattoush salad.

for the fattoush salad:

About 1/2 cup cucumber chopped into smallish pieces, laid out and drained on a piece of paper towel for 20 minutes

About 1/2 cup tomato cut into small chunks, laid out and drained on a piece of paper towel for 20 minutes

3 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

5 pickled peperoncini peppers, roughly chopped

1/2 cup of parsley, torn into very small pieces

Juice of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. sumac

Generous pinch of dried chili flakes

Kosher salt

In a salad bowl gently toss together the cucumber, tomato, scallions, and peperoncini peppers. Drizzle with the lemon juice and olive oil and top with the sumac and chili flakes, adding a pinch of kosher salt to round out the flavours.

Transfer the eggplant dip to a shallow bowl and spoon the fattoush salad over top, adding another drizzle of olive oil for presentation and extra flavour. Serve with pita bread or crispy baguette slices, or with a fork and nothing else.

Walking in the rain for long periods of time makes me feel more alive than a stroll on a sunny day. The ocean is best when it’s entirely greyscale, and listening to the combined sound of water lapping on the shore and rain falling on wet leaves is like a being wrapped in the most comforting blanket imaginable. But I’ve realized it’s also been a month of depressing music, lots of downtempo, minimal everything, and more Nick Drake than you can shake a stick at. I’ve been making the attempt for a full single day now, and although it’s been tempting to listen to the new Casino Versus Japan album nonstop I’ve been filling my ears with Teeel’s gloriously synthy good times. And you know what? I had a bit more bounce in my step tonight when I walked to the beach in the pouring rain.

Teeel – Temple of the Sun

On Kitchen Sink Salads and the Vanishing Light

Salad with avocado, potato, shredded carrots, cucumbers, and tomato.

It was only 4:00 when this photo was taken, the light almost completely blinked out on an already dark and rainy day. As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s very difficult to peel yourself off of the couch to go outside, especially when a fireplace, an afghan, and pot of tea are involved. I decided to go out running, meeting my sister in the middle of our respective homes to embark on a further walk down by the water. I hadn’t really anticipated the fact that it was 4 degrees Celsius and pelting rain, my rose tinted windows had apparently given me a cozier weather vignette than was actually true. Despite my resistance to get outside on days like today, I’ve realized how crucial it is for my ongoing mental health and wellness. I actually find the rain a lovely environment for running around in, especially compared to Ontario snow and especially when I have the promise of a long shower and extra soft pajamas in my dresser drawer. When I got home an hour later I was soaked to the bone, slightly exhilarated, and rapidly growing colder.  After a hot shower I made another pot of tea and assembled a kitchen sink salad AKA my favourite kind of salad. If you’ve never made a kitchen sink salad before it’s basically taking all of the relevant salad ingredients out of your fridge and pantry and combining them however you’d like. Leftovers are great for kitchen sink salads, in this case I used up some leftover roasted potatoes, hummus, and guacamole from when I had friends over on Saturday night. All I had to add was some red leaf and iceberg lettuce, chopped cucumber, grated carrot, scallions, tomatoes, black sesame seeds, and a simple lemon and olive oil vinaigrette. I ate this salad wrapped up in fluffy towels and wearing Ian’s LL Bean flannel housecoat, watching an episode of my current bad TV obsession Pretty Little Liars with the fireplace glowing warm in front of me. Salads with this much heft are super filling, they’re jam-packed with nutrition and colour. A leftover doesn’t have to be a fruit or vegetable, throw in any cold cooked grains, legumes, salsa, roasted chicken or sliced steak, homemade croutons (use the last of that stale delicious bakery bread with some olive oil and kosher salt), tzatziki, sliced leftover omelettes or a piece of frittata, marinated olives, pickled vegetables, cut up fruit, and basically anything else you think would be tasty in a giant salad with the works. I like to think of these salads as an even easier way than soup to clean out the crisper and rest of the fridge, there’s no simmering required and clean up is a snap.

Autumn Salad with Roasted Golden Beets and Cauliflower

Plate full of salad with roasted cauliflower and golden beets.

I’m entirely in love with the autumn we’ve had in Vancouver this year. It actually feels like a season of its own and not just an immediate onset of grey and never-ending rain (which I do love, I’m not complaining), but a breathtaking and bright extended autumn. It feels like I’m back in Ontario for my favourite time of year, just without the quiet threat of impending snow and cold. This warm salad is an ode to the seasonal fruits and vegetables of autumn, its bright colours mimic the foliage of October in Vancouver. It’s a vibrant contrast between green pine trees and palm trees against the firework display of deciduous leaves, often nestled delicately amongst the former. You could use turnip, parsnip, sweet potatoes, yams, or carrots in place of the golden beets and the apple could easily be a pear. Go ahead and use regular beets but beware their shocking hue, your salad will go from multicoloured to deep red as soon as you toss it. I also like this salad the next day wrapped up in warm pita bread or naan with a drizzle of hummus that has been thinned with tahini and lemon juice.

autumn salad with roasted golden beets and cauliflower:

5 golden beets, scrubbed and quartered

1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into small segments

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Half an apple, I like Pink Lady or Honeycrisp

2 small stalks of celery, cut into thin quarter moons

About a third of a red onion, diced and then soaked in juice of 1 lime and water for at least 15 minutes

2 cups of baby spinach, torn

Half of a pomegranate

for the dressing:

1/4 cup of olive oil

1 1/2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

1 Tbsp. honey or 1 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. dried chilli flakes

Freshly cracked pepper and kosher salt to taste

1. Toss the beets with olive oil and generous pinch of salt and roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Add the cauliflower pieces and another drizzle of olive oil, roast for another 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to come to room temperature.

2. Put all of the salad dressing ingredients into a jar and shake vigorously. Set aside.

3. Cut the beets into thin slices and combine them with the cauliflower, apple, celery, red onion, spinach, and pomegranate seeds in a large salad bowl. Add the dressing and toss well to coat the salad. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving while still warm.

Who knew a song about a dying goldfish could be so pretty? Something meaningful and nostalgic for a warm day on the couch in front of the fire.

Pinback – Penelope