Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mujaddara and Grilled Eggplant with Tomato Topping

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you can look forward to the following offerings from Sweetwater Farm, Fair Valley Farm, and Tiger Lily Art Company:

Blackberries and cantaloupes (make some fresh fruit crepes
Shiro plums from SLO Farm
eggplants (make the grilled eggplant with tomatoes below)
tomatoes, including romas, and 10 lb flats for $20 (starting preserving)
red sweet peppers, Italian frying peppers, Ho Chi Minh and Cherry Bomb hot peppers 
Costata Romanesco zucchini and cucumbers (make tsukemono)
green, yellow wax, and romano beans (make green and yellow salmon salad)
new potatoes, beets, celery, carrots, and kohlrabi (try kohlrabi and capers)
assorted herbs including Italian parsley and 1 lb bags of basil 
fresh spring garlic and onions (make the mujaddara below)
kale, chard, and a variety of lettuces, including Romaine (try kale pesto with beet pasta)
dried beans and grains from Camus Country Mill (pick up some lentils for mujaddara)
jams, salsa, and pickles from Sweet Creek Foods
pastured chickens from Fair Valley Farm (try slow cooker Pueblan Chicken Tinga)
floral arrangements from Tiger Lily Art Company

At the height of summer, jewel purple eggplants like the beauties above demand our attention. I took inspiration from a recipe by smitten kitchen and piled grilled eggplant slices with diced tomato, feta cheese, and mint, with a splash of pomegranate molasses. 

I also picked up a package of Camas Country Mill red chief lentils and a hefty spring onion to try my hand at the lentil and rice dish, mujaddara. I mostly followed a recipe from Rivka of food52, which starts with a big pot of browned onions that are mixed into separately cooked rice and lentils. But feeling a little lazy about pot washing, I followed Melissa Clark's method for making this a one pot dish by presoaking the lentils and then cooking them together with the rice. Choose your method, depending on your level of risk aversion, but definitely make the spiced yogurt sauce to accompany it.

Grilled Eggplant with Tomatoes and Mint
1 large eggplant, sliced
olive oil for brushing
1 large tomato, diced
2 ounces feta cheese, diced
10 mint leaves, minced
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon olive oil

Brush the eggplant slices with a little olive oil. Cook over a hot grill or on a grill pan, flipping once, until soft and partly charred. Meanwhile, mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Mound onto the grilled eggplant slices.

Mujaddara and Spiced Yogurt
Adapted from Rivka of food52
for the Mujaddara
1 cups small lentils such as Camas Country Mill red chief or French puy
1 cup jasmine rice
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups onions (about 3 medium onions), halved and thinly sliced
3 1/2 cups water
about 1 teaspoon salt

For the yogurt
1/2 cup full fat or Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin (freshly ground, if possible)
1/2 teaspoon coriander (freshly ground)
1/2 teaspoon spicy paprika or aleppo pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
juice and zest of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Sort through the lentils to remove any pebbles, rinse, and set to soak in a fresh water while you prepare the onions.

2. Set a wide, deep saute pan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat and add butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter has mostly melted, add onions and toss to incorporate with butter and oil. After 5 minutes, onions will have softened slightly and started to release their liquid. Raise heat to medium and cook 10 to 12 minutes more, until onions are very soft and browned. Add water by the tablespoon if pan gets too dry or if onions start to stick. When onions are well browned, add last tablespoon of olive oil and raise heat to high. Cook another 3 to 4 minutes, until bottom layer of onions has charred and crisped; try not to stir too much, or onions won't crisp up. Remove the onions to a bowl and lower the heat to medium-low.

3. Toss the rice into the pot and stir to coat with the remaining oil for about one minute. Drain the lentils and add to the pot. Add 3 1/2 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt, bring to a simmer, lower the heat, cover, and let cook for 15 minutes. Uncover and check the rice and lentils. Add more water and salt if needed and cook for another five minutes if needed. Otherwise, stir in the cooked onions and any accumulated juices, and let sit for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Note: you can also cook the lentils and rice separately and mix them together with the cooked onions.

4. Meanwhile, make the yogurt: mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Serve alongside the mujaddara.

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