AIR-FRIED EGGPLANT RAITA

The abuse of culinary terms is alive and well in the Bewitching Kitchen. Raita with no cucumber? Yes, I am afraid so. Let’s call it raita-ish. At any rate, this is delicious. I used the air-fryer to prepare the eggplant, which is fast and furious. But not overly furious. If you don’t have an air-fryer, just roast the eggplant in the oven until it softens into submission. Inspiration came from Nik Sharma’s The Flavor Equation.

AIR-FRIED EGGPLANT RAITA
(adapted from The Flavor Equation)

1 large eggplant
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt
1 Serrano pepper, de-seeded, minced
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp chopped mint
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup Greek yogurt (adjust according to your preference)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Nigella seeds
1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper

Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Brush the cut surfaces with the olive oil and arrange them in the air-fryer, cut side up. Air-fry until golden brown and soft, about 25 minutes at 390F (or the highest temperature of your fryer). Remove from the heat, cover with aluminum foil, and let cool completely.

Remove the flesh, place in a bowl and season lightly with salt. Add the Serrano pepper, cilantro, mint, and black pepper. Add the yogurt and lemon juice, and whisk well to combine. If you want it fully smooth, use an immersion blender, but I prefer to have some texture so I just used a spoon. Adjust seasoning with salt.

Make the toasted spices: heat the grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard and Nigella seeds and fry for 30 to 45 seconds. Remove from the heat. Add the Aleppo pepper and gently mix. Pour the hot oil with the spices over the raita and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I really love the book The Flavor Equation (Nik Sharma) but this particular recipe, as written, would not work well for my goals. It would make a very loose dip, with a much higher proportion of yogurt, and that’s not exactly what I had in mind. I wanted to enjoy it more as a veggie side-dish to go along a turkey meatloaf (already in the blog and in constant rotation in our kitchen), so I adapted it, as well as a few other minor changes. It ended up working also as a dip, perfect with Ak-Mak crackers.

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BROCCOLI SALAD WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS AND TAHINI DRESSING

This is getting a bit annoying: the number of recipes I am sharing of food that simply does not show well in pictures. This salad exceeded my expectations in terms of flavor and texture, but it is hard to believe if you just look at the photos. Once again, I will ask you to trust me. I have a few pointers to modify it slightly, so check the comments if interested in making it. Let me just say before I forget, leftovers hold super well in the fridge and taste delicious even with a brief warming in the microwave, going from salad to a regular side dish. The green and red motif will be perfect for the holidays, an observation made by the husband. In fact, he’s already requested we have it for Thanksgiving. That is some endorsement! Make it. You will love it also… The picture below shows the salad right before incorporating the dressing, so you can see how thick and luscious it is, and adjust with water if needed. Tahini can be quite different depending on the brand you have.

BROCCOLI SALAD WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS AND TAHINI DRESSING
(adapted from Pure Delicious)

1 head of broccoli, florets only (enough for about 3 cups)
12 grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

for the dressing:
2 Tablespoons tahini
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt to taste
water to thin sauce if needed

Cut the broccoli florets in very small size using a knife or if you prefer, a food processor, but try not to over-do it.

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing except the water, in a small food processor or blender. Process until smooth. If too thick, add some cold water.

Pour the dressing over the broccoli, add the tomatoes and pomegranate seeds and toss gently. Salad holds well for many hours, keep in the fridge and serve at room temperature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I used the food processor to cut the broccoli, but I advise you to cut it by hand, so that the pieces end up slightly larger and more homogeneous in size. Yes, it is a bit more work, but it will be worth it. If you want to have the broccoli warm later, save some pomegranate seeds to add on top. The contrast of cold pomegranate seeds with the slightly warm broccoli is particularly nice.

We had ours with Bulgogi Chicken, which I intend to feature in the blog soon because it was another super simple recipe but exploding with flavor…

ONE YEAR AGO: Turkey-Spinach Meatballs with Cardamon-Tomato Sauce

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ZUCCHINI WITH QUICK-PICKLED VEGETABLES AND PEANUT SAUCE

Once again I am following the steps of Joanne. Once again my pictures won’t do justice to how delicious this meal turned out. The peanut sauce is perfectly balanced: salty, sweet, spicy, you will feel like going at it with a spoon, eyes-closed, total bliss.

ZUCCHINI WITH QUICK-PICKLED VEGETABLES IN PEANUT SAUCE
(slightly adapted from Joanne’s blog)

2 medium zucchini, cut into ¼-inch coins
black pepper, to taste
salt to taste
olive oil to lightly coat it (if using air-fryer)

For the quick-pickled veggies
5 oz shredded carrots
1 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar

For the peanut sauce
6 tbsp creamy peanut butter
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
½ tsp fresh grated ginger
2 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 tsp sambal oelek

Pickle the veggies: In a medium bowl, toss together the carrots, cucumber, lime juice, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Set aside as you prepare the sauce and cook the zucchini.

If using an air-fryer, coat the zucchini with olive oil (you can use a spray can), season lightly with salt and pepper, and air-fry at the highest temperature until done (10 to 12 minutes). Reserve. If using a frying pan, add enough oil for a shallow fry, and cook the zucchini on both sides until golden.

Make the peanut sauce. In a medium bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, sesame oil, maple syrup, sweet chili sauce, and sambal oelek until well combined.

Serve everything over rice, with a nice drizzle of the peanut sauce.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You see that plastic bottle with leftover sauce? You will become very fond of it, and start squeezing it on plenty of stuff. Including your fingers, when no one is around to be a witness.

Truly delicious recipe, you can make it as Joanne did, with crispy tofu. I skipped that and confess that we enjoyed it with one of our favorite proteins, grilled pork tenderloin. But it would be perfect for a vegetarian meal without it. Ground peanuts wold be perfect on top, and that’s what I plan to do in the very near future.

Joanne, I need to thank you once again for bringing so many cool recipes into my horizon…
we loved this one!

A VEGAN TRILOGY

Please, please, please, don’t run away. I promise you these are all absolutely delicious and worthy serving to any omnivore out there. A creamy dip that will leave you in disbelief that it lacks dairy or cheese. And two cookies, the classic chocolate chip (described by the resident Cookie Critic as one of the best I’ve made), and Vegan Linzers, not very easy to make but if you have a little patience and the inclination to try it, once you taste it, you will be glad you baked a batch.

CASHEW CREAM ROASTED BELL PEPPER DIP
(adapted from several sources)

1½ cups raw cashews
½ cup roasted red peppers (packed in oil, lightly drained)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper (or to taste)
water to adjust consistency
1/3 cup minced parsley leaves

Place cashews in bowl and add cold water to cover completely. Let sit at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well. Process soaked cashews, red peppers, oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in food processor until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add water if too thick.

Transfer cashew mixture to bowl, stir in parsley, and adjust seasoning. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Using a Vitamix would be even better to get more of a creamy texture but I confess I hate removing things from the Vitamix bowl, unless they pour out easily. It is a little pet peeve of mine. This dip was absolutely delicious, and you can take it in many directions replacing the red bell pepper for some other ingredient, like roasted eggplants, or tahini. Vegan or not, it will definitely be a regular in our kitchen.

SECRETLY VEGAN SALTED CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Recipe available online here

I made no modifications, the recipe was recommended by my niece Raquel, who raved about it. It is absolutely true, you cannot tell they are vegan. Approved by all tasters!

VEGAN LINZERS
(adapted from Rainbow Nourishments)

200 g whole-wheat flour
40 g all-purpose flour
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
30 g powdered sugar
1/4 tsp cardamon (optional, but nice)
pinch of salt

jam of your choice to fill the cookies (I used strawberry)

Add all the cookie ingredients to a food processor. Process until evenly combined. Adjust the consistecy with more flour if needed, so that if you pinch the dough between your fingers it will not crumble.

Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour. Dust a piece of parchment paper with flour and roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness using a plastic wrap on top to protect it as you roll. Cut round shapes, at this point the dough might be getting too soft, so place it in the freezer.

Remove from the freezer, cut centers out of half of the rounds, place in the freezer again for 20 minutes and bake from frozen in a 350F oven.

Spread jam on the round cookies, top with the open circles, and dust the surface with powdered sugar.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You know I never lie to you. These were a labor of love. The absence of butter in the dough makes it very soft and tricky to work with. If you are not comfortable making regular Linzer cookies, take your time, and keep chilling the dough in the freezer at each step. Roll out, freeze. Cut rounds, freeze. Cut centers, freeze. Move to final baking sheet, freeze.

But they turned out very good, another type of vegan baking that will please those in the Butter-Egg-Dairy Team. You can trust me on that. Hand on heart.

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FROM OUR GARDEN TO YOU

Two side dishes, tomatoes and eggplant, from our garden to the blog, thanks to the efforts of my beloved husband, who is turning out like a pro in all things backyard – new lawn (Zoysia), ornamental grasses, flowers, veggies, he’s done it all this year!

TOMATO “PONZU” SALAD
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the dressing:
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
juice from 1 blood orange, strained (or regular orange)
2 tsp lime juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
tomatoes, any kind you like
fresh dill
flake salt

Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and whisk well.

Place the tomatoes in a serving bowl, preferably in a single layer, and pour the dressing over the top. Leave at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then sprinkle dill and salt, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Use the best tomatoes you can find, and you will be totally blown away by this simple way to serve them. Ours were so juicy and flavorful! Truly spectacular, a great year for tomatoes in Kansas.

AIR-FRIED EGGPLANT WITH BUTTERMILK-ZA’ATAR SAUCE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

NO AIR-FRYER?
No problem: bake in 400F oven and increase time

1 large eggplant
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

for the sauce:
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup yogurt, full-fat
1/2 tsp za’atar
olive oil to drizzle

Whisk the oil, lemon, salt and pepper.  Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and score the surface with a very sharp knife in a diamond pattern. Brush the oil mixture on the surface.  Place the eggplant, cut side up, in the air-fryer. 

Air-fry at the highest temperature (mine is 390F) for about 20 minutes, until golden and cooked through.  

As the eggplant fries, make the sauce by mixing all ingredients except the olive oil. Top eggplant with the sauce, add a little more za’atar, and serve. 
  

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I should give full credit to my friend Elaine, the Sourdough Queen, who recently got an air-fryer and has been trying all sorts of goodies using it. She raved about eggplants, so I decided to try it myself. She actually air-fryed it whole, and it works great too, so keep that in mind. Our air-fryer is small, one eggplant divided in half barely fits in the beginning, but as it cooks it shrinks a bit. The texture was amazing. I realize the picture with the sauce on top does not look appealing, but you have to once again trust me: the taste was divine! Looks like 2021 will be the year of posting not-so-good-looking pictures in the Bewitching Kitchen. Oh, well… there are worse problems in life.

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FIVE YEARS AGO: Blogging Hiatus

SIX YEARS AGO: Tomato Tatin

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Headed to Colorado!  

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NINE  YEARS AGO: Thai-Inspired Pork Tenderloin

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TWELVE YEARS AGO: Leaving on a jet plane…