Thursday, July 15, 2010

One For My Girls

My two best girl friends are a vegan and a vegetarian. They weren't always, as I specifically remember Jessica eating the occasional cheeseburger in high school. That was back when eating vegetarian meant ordering the bean burrito at our school's Taco Bell  and substituting two Snickers bars  for a ham sandwich. Jenny was the first person I ever knew to eat hummus, way before it was "normal," but then again, she's always been the hippie in our group. When Jenny and I did a stint as roommates, I remember her cooking up indiscriminate one-bowl concoctions of veggie fare all the time. I never quite knew what she was eating, but that was way before I  had delved into the idea that not eating meat at every meal might be a decent idea. Now that I'm eating vegetarian meals at least half of the time, I'm the one making big bowls of only-I-know-what.

Although we are now all spread out between LA, RI, and Jersey, I figured this is a dish I could definitely make if we all three could get together for dinner. Leaving out the onions would allow Jessica's fiancĂ© to join us, but it's Girl's Night at this imaginary party, so he's not invited. Jenny, you'll be so proud to know I actually bought soy yogurt to make this! And I liked it! Don't tell E though, cause he liked it, too, and I'm too cheap to buy it all the time.

I've actually made this recipe in its original form twice now, and we love it. This time I wanted to use up all the local veggies I found at the market, so I made a bunch of changes: adding squash, zucchini, and chick peas. I also cooked them on the grill, which worked just as well as broiling. It's super easy and versatile, and I think it will be one of the Bittman recipes that I continue to cook way after this challenge is over.

Roasted Eggplant with Peppers, Onions, and Yogurt
Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food, page 298

3 or 4 small or 1 or 2 large eggplant, trimmed and cut into slices lengthwise
3 red or yellow bell peppers, sliced into strips (I left these out this time!)
1 large zucchini, cut into slices lengthwise
1 large yellow squash, cut into slices lengthwise
2 tomatoes, halved
1 onion, peeled and halved
1 avocado, halved
1 cup chickpeas, cooked
1 tsp. fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried
2 cups yogurt
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Preheat grill or broiler. If grilling, brush all veggies with olive oil. If broiling, pour 1/4 cup olive oil into a roasting pan and turn eggplant, peppers, and squashes in it. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until tender, turning once, about 5 minutes per side.
Transfer the veggies to a bowl and put onion, avocado and tomato in the pan or on grill, cut sides down. Cook until just blackened (the avocado will take only a minute or two, but the onion needs more time). Allow these veggies to cool enough to handle, then scoop out the avocado and slice into chunks. Separate onion into slices and chop tomato. Add to the bowl of veggies. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Add chickpeas, yogurt, and lemon juice and  toss to coat.
*Optional step! Return to roasting pan. Broil about 5 minutes or until bubbly and lightly charred on top.
Serve over brown rice and top with thyme and red pepper flakes.

*Jessica and Jenny, I hope you guys make this because you'll love it! And it totally fits into the pre-wedding "don't eat crap that will prevent us from fitting into our dresses" diet. One month to go! Woot woot!

This is my submission for IHCC's Girls' Night In Week!

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Pam said...

It looks delicious and I must give it a try for my DIL! She would love it, I'm sure. Great recipe!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I cried at this post! So sweet! I am TOTALLY making this - getting the veggies at the market this weekend - - post haste! (How's that for the new high school English teacher?!!!) Love, Jenny C

Jessica Gardner said...

This looks AMAZING and I would be thrilled to have it at Girls Night! Let's plan that now!

For the record, I have not eaten meat since I was 12 years old. I never even liked cheeseburgers (it was a NY System Hot Weiner on a Saturday), so what you are probably remembering is me ordering a cheeseburger and taking off the meat (because back then, there were very few veggie options at fast food places.)

Debinhawaii said...

This looks delicious--comfort food. ;-) I love all of the changes you made, adding all the veggies. A great Girls Night In pick!

Kim said...

Cute post! This sounds like a fabulous meal to serve over brown rice. Looks delicious and creamy.

Joanne said...

I could eat hummus by the bowlful. I think your friends and I would get along swimmingly.

This dish is also something I would love! I'm an eggplant fiend.