Thursday, February 07, 2013

February Fabulousness: Middle Eastern Night

My friends Eddie & Heidi who live a charmed life by the sea with their two beautiful boys, always post envy-making pictures on Facebook of glorious feasts in elegant surroundings. I literally begged Eddie for a recipe and he came back with this wonderful idea, brilliant for working parents who don't want to spend the whole night slaving over a hot stove:

Middle Eastern Night - Roasted eggplant with Greek yogurt

Eddie says: Every few weeks, we enjoy a quick and easy meal of Middle Eastern appetizers as our main course.  Most of it can be purchased at your local grocery, or you can head to a Kabob or Curry shack and grab a few sides to plate up at home.  With six or more items on a plate, you’ll have a traditional mezze platter without dragging yourself out during the week.  I always buy some pita bread to accompany this dinner.  Greek pita flipped a few times over an open flame and lightly brushed with salted butter is my absolute favorite.  Heated wheat pita also goes well here.

You can purchase pre-made falafels in the Trader Joe’s freezer aisle and they’re ready in just 2 minutes.  Or buy a mix and make the entire box.  You can freeze these and you’ll be ready to belly dance in a moment’s notice.

Our plates are usually piled high with homemade hummus, eggplant dip, and a cucumber, tomato and feta salad dressed with lemon and olive oil.  I’ll purchase tabouli, tzatziki, and olives to round out the meal so that I’m not overburdened.  Who needs to feel like they’ve been building pyramids all day by the time they sit down at the table?

Warning!  With so many items, try your best not to leave any of them behind.  In the picture below, I completely spaced out and forgot to add the falafels!  I found them the next morning in the microwave.  Next time, I’m definitely making a list. 

Eggplants seem like a pain to tackle, but this recipe takes hardly any effort.  It’s efficient, full of flavor and balances the purchased items with the homemade items perfectly.

2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 medium eggplants
2 pinches of salt
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tbsp. of olive oil
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1-2 tbsp. lemon juice
Dash of red pepper flakes
Dash of paprika

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.  Slice eggplants lengthwise.  Mix garlic, salt and cumin into a paste.  Spread the paste over the tops of the eggplant halves.  Reunite the eggplants so they look whole again and lay the two eggplants side by side in a piece of tinfoil large enough to wrap them fairly tightly.  Place in the oven for 30 minutes, then remove and let cool. 
Heat a pan over medium heat and add olive oil.  Scoop flesh out of eggplants into the pan and discard the skins.  Cook for 7-10 minutes, or until most of the excess moisture has gone.  Let cool and place in small bowl.  Mix with the yogurt, lemon juice and red pepper flakes.  Salt to taste and add a dash of paprika over the top for color.

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