Archive | Appetizers RSS feed for this section

The CSA Challenge Part III: Peppers

23 Nov

Here are a few recipes to show some examples of how I’ve used the peppers I got in my CSA box a few weeks ago (yes, I still have some of the veggies, but they’re almost gone!).  Besides these recipes, I’ve also used the serrano and Anaheim peppers for the following:

  • 1 chopped Anaheim pepper to mix with my cornbread batter
  • 2 serranos for a batch of refried pinto beans
  • 1 chopped Anaheim pepper for a raw collards salad

Roasted Pepper Hummus


1 Anaheim pepper

1 bell pepper or other mild pepper (mine was an Italian Ringo pepper, an oblong yellow sweet pepper)

2 T olive oil, plus more for brushing the peppers

2 cups cooked chickpeas (1 can, drained and rinsed is good too)

Large handful cilantro (no need to chop, the food processor will take care of that)

2 whole peeled garlic cloves

2 T tahini

1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste if necessary


Heat oven to 400.  Brush peppers with olive oil, and place on cookie sheet.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until the peppers are cooked and brown, like this:

Let peppers cool completely before using in the hummus.  Remove stems and seeds.  Combine all ingredients in the food processor, and whirl until everything is well combined, scraping the sides once or twice if needed.  Serve on bread, on sandwiches, or as a dip for crudite.

Salsa Verde

This green salsa was inspired by Kippy Nigh’s recipe in her cookbook A Taste of Mexico.  The salsa was fantastic with some molletes (toasted bread slathered with refried beans, salsa, and cashew/tofu cream) and the seitan tacos I made a few weeks ago.  Though I used the serrano peppers I got in my CSA share for this, I also found some tomatillos at my local farmers market, so this was a mostly local salsa! 


3-4 tomatillos, peeled

2 serrano or 1 jalapeno pepper

1 clove garlic

1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped

1/2 tsp sea salt

About 1.5 cups water

Handful of cilantro


Place all ingredients except the cilantro in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Turn down to medium high heat and cook for about 8-10 minutes, or until the tomatillos are cooked (they’ll be tender instead of firm as when they are fresh).  Once done, place the pan contents in a food processor along with the cilantro, and whirl until you have salsa.  Add water if you want a thinner consistency.


The CSA Challenge, Part II: Eggplant

14 Nov

I used to really dislike eggplant, despite my wish to really like it.  Part of my dislike had to do with only being exposed to store-bought eggplant, which is often large and bitter (the larger your eggplant, the more bitter it will be.)  Also, enjoying eggplant really depends on how you prepare it.  My conclusion after trying various ways of preparing eggplant is that it’s got to be roasted/baked into oblivion.  My favorite eggplant dishes include Imam bayildi, a typical Turkish dish of very soft roasted eggplant stuffed with vegetables and doused in olive oil, baba ganoush, eggplant parmesan, and ratatouille.  All of these involve oven roasting your eggplant until very soft.  With eggplant I got in my CSA box, I made two dishes:  baba ganoush and a vegan eggplant parmesan.  The baba ganoush recipe is my own, the eggplant parmesan is adapted from a recipe on the Fat Free Vegan website (link provided).  I changed up some of the ingredients and rewrote the instructions according to how I actually made the dish. I used the lighter colored eggplant for the baba ganoush, and the darker for the eggplant parmesan, though these are certainly interchangeable.

Recipe #1:  Baba Ganoush

Aside from eating spoonfuls of this magical, addictive dip, my favorite way to eat this is on toasted whole grain bread with plenty of seeds. 


1 large eggplant or 2 medium (I used one medium and 2 small)

Olive oil for brushing the eggplant, plus 3 T as an ingredient for the dip

2 cloves garlic, peeled

Juice of one lemon

2 T tahini

Handful (about 1/3 cup) fresh parsley

1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste


First, cook the eggplant.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  While the oven heats, place the eggplants on a cookie sheet or glass baking dish.  Split the eggplants down the middle, both vertically and horizontally.  Brush the eggplant with olive oil, on all sides.  When the oven is heated, bake the eggplant for about 30 minutes, until very soft.

Next, scrape the flesh out of the skins using a spoon.  I ended up with about one cup of flesh.

Now, you are ready to make the final product.  Place the eggplant and the remaining ingredients in a food processor.  Process until smooth.  Taste, and add additional salt if necessary.  Makes about 1 1/2 cups of baba ganoush.

Recipe #2:  Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

Note: This recipe says to salt the eggplant.  I skipped this step because my eggplants were smaller and I knew they were unlikely to be bitter.  If you use a large eggplant, particularly store-bought eggplant, slice the eggplant, salt it, put it in a colander and place over a larger bowl or in the sink.  The salt extracts the eggplant’s liquid, and thereby helps eliminate the bitterness many eggplants have.


1 large eggplant, or 2 medium

1 1/2 cups whole wheat bread crumbs

Olive oil for brushing the eggplant before broiling

Tomato sauce

1 medium onion, chopped

1 T olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes with basil (or plain, adding 1 tsp dried basil to the sauce)

1/2 cup vegetable broth (I dissolved one cube of Rapunzel vegetable bouillon in 1 cup water in a small sauce pan over medium heat)

2 T tomato paste

Salt and pepper to taste

“Cheese” sauce

1/2 cup silken tofu (I used the boxed variety)

1/2 cup almond milk, or other non-dairy milk

1/2 cup vegetable broth

2 T cashews

1 tsp onion powder

3 T nutritional yeast (I upped this amount because I wanted a cheesier flavor)

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 or 3 twists of freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp corn starch


Turn on your oven’s broiler.  Remove the eggplant stems and slice into 1/4-1/2 slices.  Place on a cookie sheet, and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Place the eggplant under the broiler for about 3 or 4 minutes, until it starts to brown, as shown below.  Remove from the oven.

Next, prepare the tomato sauce.  Heat 1 T olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.  When heated, add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, sauteing for another minute or two.  Add the remaining sauce ingredients, stir until combined, and cook over medium low heat for 15-20 minutes.

While the sauce is cooking, prepare the cheese sauce.  Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and process until completely smooth.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  While the oven  heats, assemble the dish.  Use a medium-sized glass baking dish (mine was 8×11 inches).  Place half the eggplant slices in the bottom of the pan.  Top with half the bread crumbs, evenly coating the eggplant layer.  Next, spread half the tomato sauce over the eggplant and bread crumbs.  Pour over half the cheese sauce.

Repeat these layer once more, reserving some of the bread crumbs to top the eggplant parmesan.  Bake uncovered for about 25-30 minutes, until the top is a bit browned.  Allow to cool about 10 minutes and serve.

Hummus and Jeweled Bulgar Salad with Dried Fruit

24 Jan

Last night I partook in yet another Middle Eastern feast, this time with a few good friends of mine, Jill and Clare.  I decided to make hummus to eat with some excellent Italian White bread from Central Market.  I also made a version of Jeweled Rice, a recipe from Epicurious, but instead of basmati rice, I used bulgar instead.  I also added some fresh parsley to add a bright, fresh element to the salad.  An excellent discovery I made was that adding butter to a grain, whether it’s bulgar, rice, or whatever, is extremely tasty!  Clare made a Greek salad, and Jill made some red lentil chickpea patties with a cilantro sauce, a recipe from The Healthy Hedonist.  Jill gave me my copy of the The Healthy Hedonist for my birthday a few years ago.  There are so many amazing recipes in it.

First, the hummus.  I attempted to make a hummus with the consistency one typically sees at a Middle Eastern restaurant–not so much like a paste, but more on the creamy side.  To do this, I added a bit of water to it to thin the chickpea/tahini paste.


1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 2 cups cooked chickpeas

2-3 T tahini

Juice of one lemon

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup water

Salt and pepper to taste (start with a pinch of salt–you can add more after you process the hummus if necessary)


First, dump all the ingredients into a food processor. You can also use a blender for this operation, but it will require a bit more time and effort, since you’ll have to scrape the sides a few times to help the process along.

Puree, and voila!

Jeweled Bulgar Salad


1 cup uncooked bulgar wheat

1.5 cups water

Pinch salt

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 cup each of dried apricots, golden raisins, and dried cranberries

1/2 cup pistachios, chopped

2/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 T butter, melted


Bring the water to a boil over high heat with the salt and cardamom.  Add the bulgar, remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let sit for 20-30 minutes.  Meanwhile, chop the apricots and pistachios, and toss with the cranberries and raisins.  Melt the butter in the microwave and mix with the dried fruit and pistachios.  Chop the parsley, and add to the dried fruit mixture.  Mix with the bulgar once it’s cooked.  Taste, and add salt if necessary.  Grind some pepper over the top, stir, and serve.

We served the hummus with the Italian White bread cut into chunks.