(Becky, the Mama.)
The first time I created and served this recipe for a patio party, guests kept saying, “Oh my goodness, what IS this yummy stuff?” I struggled to describe what is was, because, as is so often the case, I just put whatever sounded good to me into a pan and crossed my fingers. This recipe began with a pan of diced roasted Greek veggies that becomes a colorful, intensely flavored Mediterranean topping for wedges of hot grilled Naan bread, alongside hummus and a lemon-zest ricotta. If I were to be asked to create a “perfect bite” on some sort of home cook’s competition, I’d serve this Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Tapenade on top of, well, just about anything.
This hearty appetizer is perfect with a glass of good wine, either on a hot summer day or a cold winter evening. It is wonderful at just about any temperature but probably best served a room temp which makes it a great no-fuss appetizer for parties. (Also perfect for New Year Celebrations coming up.)
I must confess, I am a little sad when there is not a container of “Yummy Stuff” in the fridge somewhere. It’s become my favorite condiment on top of fresh grilled Naan or Pita,burgers or sandwiches, or as a topping to punch up flavor in everyday spaghetti. If you are vegan, it’s especially nice to keep on hand to add a quick burst of color and flavor to lentils, beans, brown rice or quinoa.
Roasted Eggplant & Red Pepper Tapenade
(Or “That Yummy Stuff”)
* Recipe of Roasted Veggies below,cooked, cooled and diced to desired “chunkiness” for spreading
1 T. olive oil
2 T. tomato paste
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 ½ t. sugar
Couple of shakes hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco) to taste
1 T. capers or 1 T. finely chopped pepperoncini peppers
5 large green stuffed olives, sliced (may use black olives if you prefer)
1/3 c. chopped dried tomatoes
1 to 2 T. water, if needed
Salt and pepper, if needed
In medium to large skillet, heat olive oil. Add diced roasted Garlic Greek Veggies. Add tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, capers or pepperoncinis, sundried tomatoes, and olives. Stir and cook in skillet until sauce is thick, well-blended and hot and some of the “vinegary” smell and taste is cooked out, about 2 minutes.
Add water if needed, but keep the tempenade thick. Serve warm, room temperature or even cold if you like. It is amazing on grilled Naan or pita bread atop hummus, fabulous as a thick relish-like topping for a Greek-style burger or any sandwich.
Mediterranean Garlic Roasted Veggies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 eggplant, peeled and diced about 1 inch cubes
1 red pepper, seeded, stemmed and rough chopped in big chunks
3 big cloves garlic (or 4 smaller ones)
1 red onion, peeled and rough chopped in large chunks
3 T. olive oil
1 T. balsamic vinegar
Fresh ground sea salt and pepper (light sprinkling over all)
On a large baking sheet sprinkle olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Place chopped eggplant, red pepper and red onion on pan. Using clean hands mix the veggies with the oil and vinegar and then give the whole thing a light sprinkling of fresh sea salt and pepper. Put whole garlic cloves somewhere on pan either wrapped in foil or parchment with a little olive oil; or use a small clay garlic roaster.
Roast veggies for about 20 to 30 minutes or until veggies just begin to get soft and brown-blackish in spots. Smash soft roasted garlic into a paste with flat edge of knife or fork, and toss with veggies.
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The Title: Roasted Eggplant & Red Pepper Tapenade
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This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
My sister and my nieces, Whitney and Tori, age 9 and 11, are here this weekend and we are enjoying them so much! The youngest one, Whitney, is quite the food connoisseur, and has made me feel like the best cook on the planet with her over-the-top compliments. She describes the food on the end of her fork as one would describe a fine wine, “I can taste the layers of flavor! The hint of coconut, the tang of pineapple…”
As soon as she arrived from Texas she asked if we could make my sweet n’ spicy meatloaf again, together. She remembered it from three years ago, when they last came to Colorado! We did, and she said she loved squashing the meat and the seasonings together with her bare hands. When she took a bite of the cooked finished meatloaf she raised her hands, rolled her eyes heavenward and exclaimed, “This is even better than I dreamed it would be!”
Yesterday, I let the girls paint pictures outside under our tree and beach umbrella, and then made them each virgin cocktails. (Cranberry Sprite, OJ and slices of lemon, lime and orange on ice.) Whitney took one sip and said, “This is delicious! In fact, it is as good as meatloaf!” I wonder how many bartenders have had compliments like that. “This Long Island Tea is as tasty as meatloaf!” Gotta love kids.
With such an appreciative food critic in the house, it really spurred me on to bring out my inner chef. This is a very simple Asian salad that packs a powerful burst of flavor with very few ingredients, one the whole family loved! The key is the salt. Be sure to use sea salt, the best you can find. McCormicks now has a sea salt grinder, where you can grind fresh flakes of sea salt on to your food. It is quite good! You will be amazed how good fresh sea salt can be and the “layers of flavor” that come from using the finer, gourmet versions of it. This dish combines the smooth, richness of avocado with the crisp crunch of cucumber, the warmth of sesame oil and sesame seeds, and that final touch of freshly flaked sea salt. So easy, but so gourmet at the same time. I guarantee you, it is even as good as meatloaf!
Avocado Cucumber Sesame Salad
Serves two to three
1 ripe but still firm avocado, cut in bite sized pieces (we like a lot of avocado, so I sometimes double the avocado in this recipe)
1/2 English cucumber (or regular cucumber with seeds removed , but peel left on) cut in bite sized pieces
1 t. fresh lime juice
1 T. sesame oil
1 t. sesame seeds (toasted, white or black seeds –black seeds are actually quite pretty, but I did not have them on hand)
fresh sea salt to taste
Gently coat the sliced avocado and cucumber in a bowl with lime juice, pinch sugar, sesame oil and seeds. Sprinkle generously with sea salt. Serve in a low-rimmed edge blow or plate.