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Eggplant Rolls (Vegetarian)

In Fun Foods, Vegetables On May 4, 2024 0 Comments


Prep time: 16 minutes for roasting eggplant; 15 minutes for filling and 15 minutes for baking
Makes: 4 to 5 rolls

Ingredients for Roasting Eggplant:
One large eggplant
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil for brushing eggplant slices
salt, for sprinkling over eggplant slices

This eggplant recipe is made with fresh vegetarian ingredients. The end result is a surprising blend of flavors inside these Eggplant Rolls. Everyone will love this luscious vegetarian dish!

Directions for Roasting Eggplant:

1. Wash and dry the eggplant.

2. Cut the eggplant (lengthwise) into 1/4-inch thick slices (cut & discard stem & tip).

3. Line an 18 X 12-inch rectangular baking sheet with aluminum foil and then brush it with vegetable oil. WARNING: DO NOT USE PARCHMENT PAPER AS IT WILL BURN WHEN SET UNDERNEATH THE BROILER ELEMENT OF OVEN.

4. Set eggplant slices on the oiled baking sheet.

5. Lightly brush the eggplant with olive oil, followed by a sprinkling of salt.

6. Place baking sheet with eggplant on an oven rack set 6 inches below the top oven broiler element.

7. Set oven on “BROIL” and roast eggplant for 8 minutes or until golden brown.

8. Using a flat spatula, gently turn the eggplant slices over and roast other side for an additional 6 to 7 minutes.

9. Remove baking sheet with eggplant slices from oven and set aside to cool on a cold surface.

10. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

Ingredients for Filling:
4 to 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped sweet potato (1/4-inch cubes)
1/2 cup chopped zucchini (1/4-inch cubes)
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper (1/4-inch cubes)
1/4 cup chopped yellow or white onion (1/4-inch cubes)
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup precooked lentils, drained & cooled
1/4 cup finely-chopped parsley
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup premade tomato sauce (use your favorite recipe or buy the premade sauce)
Grated Pecorino Romano or Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese, for garnish

Directions for Filling:

1. In a 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil.

2. Add the sweet potato cubes to skillet and stir-fry on medium-high heat until slightly charred.

3. When done, transfer the sweet potato cubes to a 4 to 6-cup glass or porcelain mixing bowl; set aside.

4. In same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add zucchini cubes. Repeat the stir-fry instruction as above. When done, transfer zucchini cubes to the bowl with sweet potato cubes.

5. Repeat above stir-fry instructions as follows: in same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the chopped red bell pepper and onion.

6. Stir-fry about 2 minutes or until tender and onion is translucent.

7. When done, add red bell pepper and onion to bowl with other vegetables.

8. Add the lentils, chopped parsley, salt and ground black pepper to all vegetables in bowl and gently mix together. Set aside.

Assemble & Bake Eggplant Rolls:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a 12 X 12-inch baking dish.

3. Next, add 1/2 cup of the precooked tomato sauce; set aside.

4. Spread about 3 to 4 tablespoons of filling over each eggplant slice; roll up the eggplant.

5. Place eggplant roll in baking dish with tomato sauce.

6. Repeat filling and rolling remaining eggplant slices and place alongside each other in baking dish. You may have leftover filling – this can be refrigerated, heated the next day and enjoyed with bread.

7. When all eggplant rolls have been placed in baking pan, spoon the remaining tomato sauce over the rolls.

8. Bake eggplant rolls for about 15 minutes.

9. When done, serve immediately with a garnish of grated cheese. Enjoy this dish with a green salad side or other vegetarian or vegan side with crusty Italian bread!
Text & Photograph ©2024 Nancy DeLucia Real

Dill & Fava Rice (Vegan)

In Fun Foods, Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On September 7, 2023 0 Comments


Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes (boil rice) and 15-20 minutes (cook rice with dill)
Serves: 6 to 8

Here’s my favorite Persian-inspired rice recipe – I love it because of the rich aroma emanating from the dill weed as it cooks. The fava beans and saffron add such rich flavors to this beautiful side dish!

2 cups basmati rice (rinsed 3 to 4 times in cold water & drained)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon Persian saffron threads
2 cups frozen fava beans (also called, broad beans)
2 cups chopped fresh dill weed
4 tablespoons vegetable oil (preferably safflower or sunflower oil)

Directions for Boiling Rice & Fava Beans:

1. Place the washed and drained rice in an 8-cup saucepot; add 6 cups cold water.

2. Cover the saucepot and bring rice to a boil; uncover and add 2 teaspoons salt.

3. Cook the rice for 6 minutes.

4. After 6 minutes, taste the rice (it should be al dente or crunchy-tender. If it’s still too hard, cook rice for 1 to 2 more minutes.

5. Using a large, fine-meshed colander, drain the rice.

6. Rinse the rice once under cold water; set the rice in colander over a bowl to drain & cool.

Assembling the Rice with Dill & Fava Beans:

1. Meanwhile, in a small saucepot or kettle, boil 1 cup of water.

2. Transfer boiled water to a pyrex or stainless steel bowl & mix with saffron threads.

3. Set water & saffron aside; the water will look dark yellow or orange.

4. When water has turned dark yellow or orange from the saffron, strain the water into a separate Pyrex or stainless steel bowl.

5. Gently transfer about 1 cup of the cooked & drained rice to the bowl with saffron water; set aside.

6. In a 12-inch, nonstick skillet, add 1/4 cup vegetable oil.

7. Gently spread about 1/3 of the boiled rice evenly over oil at bottom of skillet.

8. Follow with 1/2 of amount of fava beans and 1/2 of amount of chopped dill weed.

9. Continue assembling 1/3 layer of rice, followed by remaining fava beans and dill weed, as above.

10. The rice mound should end with the remaining 1/3 of white rice at the top.

11. Drain the saffron rice and scatter it evenly over the white rice at top of mound.

Finishing the Dill & Fava Rice:

1. Cover the rice in skillet and cook on low heat for 15 minutes.

2. After 15 minutes, using a flat spatula, check bottom of rice. If it is does not look golden brown yet, cook rice on medium-low heat for an additional 5 minutes.

3. Using the spatula, check bottom of rice once more – it should be golden brown.

4. Using a large ladle, scoop rice onto a serving platter; set crispy rice bottom separately on another platter.

5. Serve Dill & Fava Rice immediately as a side dish to meat, poultry, fish or as part of a vegetarian feast!
Text & Photograph ©2023 Nancy DeLucia Real

Eggplant Dip with Tahini & Parsley

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods, Vegetables On July 31, 2023 0 Comments


Prep time: 18 to 25 minutes for roasting & cooling eggplant
Prep time: 10 minutes for dip
Serves: 4 to 6

On my trip to Turkey in April, I was served an eggplant dip that was so delicious, I knew I had to make it myself. I did! Here’s the recipe.

2 medium eggplants
2 to 3 tablespoons tahini (found in Middle Eastern supermarkets)
Juice from 1 lemon or lime
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 to 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses – optional (found in Middle Eastern supermarkets)
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 a bunch fresh Italian, flat leaf parsley

Directions for Broiling or Grilling Eggplant:
1. Place the eggplant on a baking sheet.

2. Set baking sheet on an oven rack set 6 inches below the top broiler element.

3. Broil eggplant 6 to 8 minutes per side, until it looks wrinkled and soft. Alternatively, you can grill the eggplant directly on an outdoor barbecue grill.

4. When eggplant is done, transfer it to a platter and let it cool.

Prepare the Eggplant Dip:

1. After cooling, cut and discard stem and skin from eggplant.

2. Place eggplant flesh in a colander; let it drain over a bowl for about 10 minutes.

3. After eggplant has drained, transfer it to a food processor.

4. Add 2 tablespoons tahini, lemon or lime juice, crushed garlic, 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses and about 1/2 teaspoon each salt & ground pepper.

5. Process the mixture until it is lumpy-smooth.

6. Taste the eggplant dip and adjust seasonings, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and tahini, if needed.

7. Add leaves from 8 to 10 parsley sprigs and process once more. DO NOT LET PARSLEY LEAVES DISINTEGRATE.

8. Transfer the eggplant dip to a serving bowl & garnish with remaining parsley sprigs. Serve with pita wedges, tortilla chips or bread toasts.

Text & Photograph ©2023 Nancy DeLucia Real

Melon Granita

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Fruit and Jams, Fun Foods On August 7, 2022 0 Comments


Granita is a frozen Italian dessert, usually made with fresh fruit. It’s similar to sorbet. This melon granita recipe is so easy to make. The freezer does it all, even while you sleep. Enjoy this cool dessert on a hot summer day!

Active Prep Time: 5 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 4 hours or overnight
Makes: 4 half-cup servings

2 cups melon cubes (cantaloup or honeydew)
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Juice from 1/2 of a lime
One small watermelon and melon scooper (for garnish)
Fresh mint sprigs (optional)

1. In a blender, combine the melon, water, sugar and lime juice; puree until smooth.

2. Gently pour the melon mixture into a 9-inch round metal baking pan; transfer it to a freezer, uncovered.

3. Freeze the melon mixture for 4 hours or overnight.

4. After the melon mixture has become frozen, prepare the watermelon balls.

5. Using a melon scooper, form about 32 to 36 watermelon balls and place them on a plate; cover and store the watermelon balls in refrigerator.

6. Saving remaining watermelon for another use.

7. Meanwhile, place pan with frozen melon mixture on a counter.

8. Using a fork, make scrape-marks in the frozen melon mixture.

9. The scraping will create flakes – this is the “granita”.

10. Continue scraping until all the granita is made.

11. Divide the granita among 4 half-cup glass or porcelain bowls such as ramekins.

12. Place the bowls on a small, individual plates – garnish with watermelon balls and fresh mint sprigs. Serve immediately.
Text & Photograph ©2022 Nancy DeLucia Real


Velvety Beet Hummus (Vegan)

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods, Holidays On June 8, 2022 0 Comments


This is the best hummus we’ve ever made- it’s delicate, sweet and velvety. Make this Velvety Beet Hummus in five minutes. It’s a great starter for all palates!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Makes: about 3 to 3-1/2 cups

One 14-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons Tahini (this is sesame seed paste, available in Middle Eastern section of supermarkets)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons sunflower or safflower oil (or your choice of vegetable oil)
Juice from 1 to 1-1/2 limes
1 cup diced, cooked beets

1. In a food processor, combine the garbanzo beans, garlic, Tahini, salt, olive oil, vegetable oil and lime juice.

2. Process to a paste.

3. Add the beets; process the mixture until smooth (you will see tiny specks of beet in the hummus).

4. Taste and, if needed, adjust salt and lime juice levels.

5. Transfer the hummus to a glass or porcelain serving bowl; garnish with olive oil and mint leaves. Serve with pita bread wedges, crackers or tortilla chips.

6. NOTE: This Velvety Beet Hummus can be made up to two days ahead, tightly sealed and refrigerated. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.
Text & Photograph ©2022 Nancy DeLucia Real