Involtini

Ingredients:
3 eggplants, about 1 pound each, trimmed and cut lengthwise into slices 1/4 inch thick (about 16 slices total)
¾ cup olive oil, or as needed
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup pine nuts
cup raisins, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes until plump, then drained
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 ½ teaspoons dried mint
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley leaves
1 large egg, beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ½ cups drained canned crushed tomatoes
1 large ball fresh mozzarella in 1/4-inch slices

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place a ridged cast-iron skillet or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brush eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil and cook, turning, until soft and (if using a ridged pan) crisscrossed with grid marks. Set aside and allow to cool.
2. In a large bowl, combine feta, pine nuts, raisins, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, bread crumbs, garlic, lemon zest, mint and parsley. Mix in egg, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Spread eggplant slices on a surface, and divide stuffing evenly among them, placing 1 to 2 tablespoons at one end of each slice. Roll up slices tightly to secure filling, and place in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish (or other shallow baking pan in which rolls fit snugly in a single layer).
4. Pour crushed tomatoes on top of eggplant rolls. Arrange mozzarella slices in a line lengthwise down center of pan. Drizzle olive oil evenly over pan, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Bake until cheese has melted and eggplant is bubbling and fragrant, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to stand 5 to 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Menemen

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SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Ingredients
2 TBS olive oil
2 onions, slides
1 red pepper, sliced
1 red chili, seeds removed, sliced
1 3/4 c chopped tomatoes
1 TB superfine sugar
4 eggs
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
1 small bunch parsley, chopped

Instructions:
Heat the oil in a cast-iron pan. Add the onions, pepper, and chili and sauté until they caramelize and soften. Add the tomatoes and sugar and simmer until the liquid has evaporated. Make 4 pockets in the tomato mixture and crack an egg into each of them. Cover the pan and cook for 1 minute more.

Corn and Zucchini Salad with Chives

Serves 4

2 small zucchini, diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 ears sweet corn, kernels shaved off
1 cup minced chives
1/2 cup chopped mint, plus sprigs to garnish

Place the diced zucchini in a colander or small bowl and sprinkle lightly with salt. Set aside. Heat a deep skillet over medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil and the butter. When the butter foams up, add the corn kernels and cook, stirring frequently, until they are tender — about 5 minutes.

Drain any excess water off the zucchini and add to the skillet, along with the chives and mint. Sauté just until the zucchini is barely tender — about 3 minutes.

Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately while hot, or at room temperature.

Edamame Salad

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups of Edamame
2 Tbsp of olive oil
Lemon zest (whole lemon)
Lemon juice (half lemon)
Salt
Pepper
Pecorino cheese
Mint

DIRECTIONS:
Part boil edamame and drain. In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Add edamame to bowl and mix. To serve, add shaved pecorino cheese and roughly chopped mint

Kashk-e-Bademjoon

For those adventurous enough to try this for the first time, it is much like Baba Ghanoush, but the flavors are very different.  It’s also a bit heavier than Baba Ghanoush, but also one of my faves.

INGREDIENTS:
3 medium eggplants
2 egg whites, beaten
1/4 cup oil
3 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp dried mint flakes
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

garnish:
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp dried mint, crumbled
1/2 cup liquid whey (kashk), diluted in 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/4 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water

DIRECTIONS:

1. Peel eggplants and cut into four lengthwise slices. Place in a colander and soak in water and 2 tbsp salt to remove bitterness. Let stand for 20 minutes. Rinse with cold water and pat dry.
2. Brush the eggplant with egg white on all sides to use less oil in the frying process.
3. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a skillet and brown eggplant slices on all sides over medium heat. Drain over a paper towel.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Brown the onions and garlic in 2 tbsp oil, add turmeric and mint flakes and set aside.
6. Alternate layers of eggplant with layers of onion and garlic mixture in a long ovenproof dish. Pour 1.2 cup water over the layers, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover, and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until tender.
7. For the garnish, just before serving, lightly brown the garlic in oil. Remove skillet from heat and add mint, whey, walnuts, and saffron water. Pour over the eggplant, cover, and bake for another 15 minutes in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven.
8. When the eggplant is done, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and keep it warm until serving. Serve from the baking dish with bread, onions, chopped herbs, and (my personal favorite) grapes. Delicious!

Doogh

This drink is called “doogh” in Farsi and “ayran” in Turkish.

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup whole-milk yogurt
1 tsp chopped fresh mint or a dash of dried mint flakes, crushed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups club soda or spring water, chilled

DIRECTIONS:
1. Pour yogurt, mint, salt, and pepper into a pitcher. Stir well.
2. Add club soda or spring water gradually, stirring constantly. Add 3 or 4 ice cubes and mix again.
3. Serve chilled.