Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Summerfall: Eggplant Dip and an Apple-Pear Salad

We pulled the last plants from the garden. It's warm: summer-fall. The crisp nights have just started. September spent too much time in the 80's. (My DNA has changed since I moved to Minnesota. 80 is just plain hot to me.) I am itching to warm cider, throw on boots and scarves and dig out my blue-plaid blanket for cuddles.

Don't tell me that January is coming. I know. I may even be ready. But first, I will work with what I have and that is Summer-Fall. Time to use up the last of summer vegetables before we become squirrels, digging up the roots.

This is Ina Garten's recipe and it's simple (I can write an ode to simplicity these days), healthy (I know it's a buzz word - just throwing it in there and we won't speak about my ten pound weight gain) and quite tasty (most important).

2 eggplants
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons parsley
1 red pepper
1 red onion
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper (I used more)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use more)
1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut eggplants, bell pepper and onion into 1 inch cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, cayenne, salt and peppers. Roast for 45 minutes. Turn them 1 time halfway through baking. 

Remove from oven. Cool slightly. Put vegetables in food processor and add the lemon juice and tahini. Pulse 3 or 4 times to blend. Adjust salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and garnish with fresh parsley.

We've gone to the apple orchards a few times. A happy by-product of living here is the easy access to  quite a few orchards. We've come home laden with pies, apple doughnuts and even - fresh apples! (The pies and doughnuts have nothing to do with my weight gain.)

This is one of those salads that you wind up craving in the fall. It's not one of those foods that "you should eat because it's good for you." The fact that it is indeed buzz-word healthy should be ignored. Make this before the only thing fresh in the produce aisles are turnips.

APPLE PEAR SALAD (serves 4) (Recipe from Recipe Runner)
(I'm not going to give amounts. You know how much lettuce and fruit and almonds you want, right?)

1 small apple (or more)
1 small, perfectly ripe pear (or more)
Your favorite tender lettuces: spring mix, butter lettuce, mache, young spinach
Almonds (sliced and toasted)
dried cherries or dried cranberries
feta cheese
bacon (2-4 slices, optional but the salty crunch in the salad is highly recommended by all the humans in the house)

1 minced shallot
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all in a jar and shake and bring to the table - allowing people to add their own dressing and ensuring the salad doesn't get soggy. Soggy salads are sad.

Cioppino-Bambino went to the vet for his first year check-up. 15.2 pounds. When we got him at four months he was 4.1 pounds. But unlike his owner - not overweight. He has landing gear for paws, a true lion's mane (Kirsten wanted him shaved to look like a lion when I had his matted fur combed out; I resisted) and a lemur tail. The vet confirmed that there's a lot of Maine Coon in this chatty boy. 

In true Italian fashion, I currently have sauerbraten marinating in the fridge in honor of my father. (Every Sunday doesn't have to be pasta even though most should be.) Meanwhile, hope you are having a leaf-crunching, apple-laden, blue sky, sugar maple summerfall!


Kitchen Riffs said...

Cioppino-Bambino is beautiful! The size of his paws (and whole body!) sure are typical of a Maine Coon cat. Our first cat, Sebastian, was a pure breed Maine Coon, and we used to call him "paw guy" because when he was little his paws were so huge in compassion to the rest of him (ears, too). Anyway, lovely food -- so good looking. We still have Swiss chard in our garden, and are lucky enough to even have basil in a protected spot! Supposed to have a frost this week, though, so need to harvest that tomorrow or the next day. Fun post -- thanks so much.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I do love your cat, even though he is a mischief maker. Your fall recipes sound just perfect for the cool,weather ahead. But if I had my drithers, we'd have a longer summer! Lucky you to still have had some produce from your garden this late. I think (hope ) I still have kale and that the squirrels haven't eaten all my butternut squash!

Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina said...

I'm so glad to see another post come through my email from you. I have stopped by several times to see what's new and figured that you're just really, really busy! I know that I am certainly in that category. Thank you for some more delicious recipes and photos of your mischievous cat! Getting ready to go to Germany to teach in December, and so if you've ever been to Bavaria, please give me some travel tips!

I'll be in Iowa next week for the dispersion of my parents' possessions, etc. (my mother passed this summer) and I am looking forward to some crisp autumn temperatures!

Happy Autumn!

Angie's Recipes said...

Your Cioppino-Bambino looks SO adorable! Both salad and the dip are my favourites, Claudia. Well, I have gained weight too even though I eat REALLY healthy.

Sprigs of Rosemary said...

This is my favorite time of year, despite knowing what's coming. My garden is done, too, although there's still potatoes and shallots to get. I've never had the eggplant dip. Knowing that I love tapenade and hummus, I'm sure to. Thanks for the reminder.

Chiara said...

Cioppino Bambino it's really lovely and the salad perfect for fall, thank you Claudia !

Beth said...

Gorgeous salad! I love every one of those ingredients, and together they sound sublime.

Marcelle said...

Those are two perfect fall recipes! That eggplant dip doesn't sound like it would last long at my house! Can't wait to try it out.