I know it's a little counter-intuitive to be posting my Passover recipes now, but this has been a very busy week for me, as exams are approaching and work is a bit of a pain and my volunteer supervisor is asking for results all at once. I hope you'll forgive me. Also, probably Monday I will be posting a couple more recipes in honour of spring, which has finally sprung in Iowa City. I wanted to do a vegetarian feast theme in time for spring, but since many places won't really be done with spring until mid-June, I'm going to post the theme in the next couple of days and make the deadline end of may. Cool? Cool.
This photo is my attempt at labneh, or strained yoghurt, popular in the Mediterranean region. Claudia Roden taught me how, in her amazing Middle Eastern cookery book. I'll be posting a Foodie Bookshelf entry about it soon, as she really has made me want to plunge whole heartedly into the cuisine. Anyway, the method is basically just to dump a tub of plain yoghurt into a cheesecloth over a bowl, squeeze as much liquid out as you can, then tie it off and put it in a strainer or colander over the bowl in the fridge overnight to drain.
I had a little trouble with my cheesecloth tearing, and I had to double it up, as well as my colander having not enough holes. It didn't fully strain, but it did make it thicker. I chopped up a handful of fresh mint and stirred it in, and then dipped roasted eggplant slices in it for lunches. I love the combination of the sweet eggplant flavour with the sharp tang of the yoghurt and the cool mint flavour.
My first dinner attempt was a Roasted Eggplant Medley, whose source I unfortunately do not know. It was easy, and extremely delicious. My main complaint is that it went way too quickly, eating-wise. For me, this was two servings, and that's a lot of veggies to buy for two servings. Then again, maybe I'm just a glutton. The taste was fantastic. To start, chop up an eggplant, four Roma tomatoes, and a couple of zucchini. See the photo above for my awesome chopping technique - cut thick slices, then turn them over into stacks and cut into quarters. Throw in an (olive) oiled baking dish and drizzle with two more tablespoons of olive oil, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with a couple teaspoons cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Roast at 450 for 45 minutes, stirring every ten or fifteen. Add a tablespoon lemon juice and a tablespoon chopped fresh mint when it comes out of the oven. The recipe also suggests a chopped green onion, which I forgot, additional salt and pepper if needed, and a tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, which was not at the grocery store.
My next dinner attempt was another that didn't last long - one serving, to be exact. It was a pretty simple mushroom improv. Saute a package of sliced white mushrooms in olive oil. Add dried (or fresh) thyme, fresh mint, salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Toss with a few tablespoons sour cream. Let sit ten or fifteen minutes so that the sour cream melts into a "sauce" and absorbs the mushroom flavour. So tasty.