Sunday, May 11, 2008

Veggin' Out

We had our last lecture on nutrition and then went right into making some healthy alternatives. Tonight, it was all about vegetarian foods – we made an Artichoke Heart, Fennel, Watercress Salad with a Grapefruit Citronette, Falafel, Roasted Spaghetti Squash with a Tomato Caper Sauce, Babaganoush, and finally Tabouleh.

The salad we made was bitter, unattractive and the Citronette dressing was very bitter. No balance in the dish – everyone hated it. I don’t event think Chef liked it. We moved on to Falafel which is ground chickpeas, garlic, parsley, cilantro lemon juice, cumin, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs and a little baking soda. I really love Falafel so I was excited to learn how to make this dish. It was really quite easy, after soaking the dry chickpeas, we processed them with the garlic, herbs and seasonings. We then added the lemon juice, baking soda, bread crumbs and gently mixed the ingredients together. We let the mixture rest for about 30 minutes and then proceeded to roll golf-ball size Falafels to fry in 350 degree oil until golden.

Meanwhile as this was happening, we were roasting our spaghetti squash and eggplant together for the other recipes. My cooking partner for the evening, Ashley, took the reigns on the spaghetti squash and I went to work on the Babaganoush.

The roasted eggplant flesh was soft and easily removed from it’s skin. I processed the eggplant with some lemon juice, olive oil, tahini (sesame paste), a clove of garlic and some parsley. Here’s what I would have changed…I would have roasted the garlic with the eggplant to mellow it out. Otherwise, the mixture was good with a healthy kick of garlic. For some reason every time I eat eggplant the inside of my mouth itches. I don’t know if I’m having some reaction but it is the weirdest thing – it won’t stop me from eating it. A friend of mine calls eggplant “the poor man’s meat” I’m guessing because it has a hefty texture and can stand up to grilling, roasting, frying, and it’s oh so good in eggplant parmesan.

At this point in the night, we were running out of time and had to make the Tabouleh. We soaked the bulghar wheat in a cup of boiling water and let is soak for about 25 minutes. We chopped some fresh parsley, mint, tomatoes, and combined all of this with the nutty bulghar and added lemon juice and olive oil.

Simple dishes to add to your repertoire of weekly meals. These middle eastern favorites are great for summer entertaining too!

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