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Anatolian Creamy Eggplant and Almond Salad


The fall eggplant harvest has begun, and I had two deeply purple orbs hanging from the plant, ready to pick. But what do to with them?

I found the answer in Clifford A. Wright’s exhaustive but, unfortunately out of print cookbook, “Little Foods of the Mediterranean: 500 Fabulous Recipes for Antipasti, Tapas, Hors d’Oeuvre, Meze and More”. (A few used copies can be found, and if you like foods of the Mediterranean, I would recommend it highly.)

He has a number of eggplant options, but the one that appealed most to me was a salad or spread made with toasted almonds, Greek yogurt and pomegranate molasses. “This Turkish salad served as a meze is called nazuktan and is typical in central Anatolia,” he writes. “It is made in a number of different ways. Some cooks stir in pomegranate molasses, a taste I like in this recipe.”

You can find pomegranate molasses in specialty markets and Middle Eastern grocers, such as Ali Baba, Salaam International Food Market and Central Market.

Anatolian Creamy Eggplant and Almond Salad

1 1/2 pounds eggplant
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/4 cup labna or Greek yogurt
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
Salt, to taste3 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves

Anatolian Creamy Eggplant and Almond Salad

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the eggplant in a baking dish with a little water or on a rack and roast until the skin blisters black, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven an , when cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and stem and remove as many seeds as you can.

While the eggplant is roasting, place the almonds on a baking sheet and bake until golden, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. Set aside 6 or 7 almonds and grind the rest coarsely in a food processor.

Chop the eggplant and place in a colander to drain for 20 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to a large bowl and stir in the Greek yogurt, chopped almonds, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses, and season with salt.

Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with the mint and garnish with the whole almonds.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From “Little Foods of the Mediterranean: 500 Fabulous Recipes for Antipasti, Tapas, Hors d’Oeuvre, Meze and More” by Clifford A. Wright

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Leeks Are in Season. Time to Make Some Soup. Or Salad. Or …


Leeks at the Pearl Farmers Market

Leeks are in season at the farmers markets in the area, but people still don’t know what to  do with this wonderful and versatile vegetable.

Sure, you can sauté them, but don’t stop there. I particularly love them in soups, though they are great in salads and as a side dish. Thomas Keller, considered to be the finest chef in America, uses them in a bread pudding.

Here are links to several leek recipes we’ve run in the past as well as new one for Creamy Leek Soup, which is perfect for those of us trying to cut back on carbs without losing any flavor.

The point is, don’t pass those leeks up the next time you’re at a farmers market. They are very low in saturated fat and cholesterol, according to NutritionData.self.com. “They are also  a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, folate, iron and magnesium, and a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese.”

And they taste great, with a sweetness that is comes out when you cook them. Look for smaller leeks. Cut only the white part, then peel back the thick, outer green leaves and cut only the tender part of the green beneath. Soak the cut pieces in water; the dirt will sink to the bottom while the leek stays on top.

Cream of Leek Soup

2 cups chicken stock  or vegetable stock
1 cup finely cut leeks
2 tablespoons butter
½ medium sized onion, minced or grated
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream

Cream of Leek Soup

Bring the stock to a boil. Add leeks and simmer. While they are cooking, melt butter in a saucepan with the onion. Then add to the leek-stock mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste and let cook for about 15 minutes or until the leeks soften and cook. Add chopped parsley. Pour mixture into a blender or food processor and purée.

Set up a double boiler over low heat. Whisk the egg yolks over the warm water. Slowly stir in heavy cream and whisk until fully incorporated. Slowly add the cream to the soup and stir it with a wooden spoon until it thickens. It is done when the mixture coats the spoon with a slight film. DO NOT let the mixture boil and do not overcook.

Makes 2-3 servings.

Adapted from apinchofhealth.com

 

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