Monday, August 8, 2011

Eggplant Caviar

Chips and Dip, who doesn't love that?
And Im BAAAACCK! Its been oh too long since my last post but not to fear. Your mostly vegetarian, mostly healthy blogger is back with a bunch of new yummy recipes. (Insert personal sigh of relief here)

The last two months have been exhausting, blissful, confusing, exciting, and mostly ridiculous. I am finally in a new home(three cheers to that!) that has a kitchen so beautiful I would live in it, if that wasn't impractical on every level.

I also was on vacation and abandoned my healthy eating routine for convenient junk food eating. I now know that its unlikely I will ever eat uber-unhealthy again in my life. Sure I have more pizza than I should, and I can always eat less meat, but eating mostly junk food for even a few days made my tummy and body feel awful. Too much salt, sugar, and processed crap made me feel tired, grumpy, and constantly nauseous. Though it can be fun to indulge in chips, soda, and magic shell(Damn you delicious magic shell) the effect it has on my body is not worth it. Vacations are for being ridiculous, and eating to the extreme, but I must say Im happy to be back in the land of brown rice and steamed broccoli. I also missed cooking and blogging and now I finally have a nice clean kitchen to cook in!

So Im jumping back in a with a healthy dip that can served as an appetizer, spread on a sandwich, or even a base for a pizza. Not sure why its called caviar, its from The old Quick Vegetarian Pleasures book, and apparently is Russian in origin. This book doesn't seem to have a bad recipe in it, I'm telling yall, Jeanne Lemlin is WHERE ITS AT. These books are over 20 years old, but the recipes are spot on tasty. Also for the most part affordable, which any gal/guy on a budget can appreciate.

The ingredient list drew me to this dish because it is only vegetables. Also eggplant is a vegetarians best friend, and I want to have as many ways to cook it as possible. Green bell peppers are in the mix as well, and since I seem to hate their taste, Im trying to use them in more dishes to build up a tolerance for them. I know that sometimes you just don't like how a food tastes, but I never thought I would like ANY vegetables, and now I love so many. You are next bell peppers, watch out!

Vegetable delicious-ness
I recommend serving this with crackers, assorted vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, celery, or homemade pita chips. To make your own pita chips just cut your round pita into triangles, bake on a cookie sheet it for about 5 minutes at 425 degrees and BOOM, delicious homemade pita chips for your dining pleasure. FYI Pita bread is about as cheap as it gets, and so versatile. I try to keep it around for quick chips, making pita pizzas or sandwiches. Plus it comes in whole wheat!

Looking for a way to jazz up your normally bland vegetable sandwich? Take some good hearty wheat bread, fresh spinach, sprouts, carrots, tomato, slap the eggplant spread on each slice of bread and you have a great lunch.

Get creative, this is healthy, delicious, and taste perfect at room temperature. Enjoy!

Eggplant Caviar 

The Goods: Serves 6-8 as an appetizer, about 3 cups

1/4 cup olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely diced

1 16 ounce can plum tomatoes, drained well and finely diced

1 green bell pepper, cored, and finely diced

1 medium eggplant, peeled and finely diced

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, more to taste

The Deal: 
1. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add onions and saute until soft about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and saute another 5 minutes, stirring often.

2. Reduce heat to medium and stir in remaining ingredients, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, until the eggplant is very tender. Stir periodically.
Vegetables just added, so pretty :)
3. Remove lid and cook until all the juices have evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Ready to be blended
4. Place half of the eggplant mixture in a food processor(or blender) and puree until smooth. Stir back into the remaining mixture. Remove from heat and place in a serving bowl. Serve at room temperature.

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