For our next episode of Cooking Under Quarantine, we’ll be making another wondering Fall dish — chicken pot pie! This is one of my personal favorites, and this version features festive fall flavors and is wonderful for the cooler weather. The filling is made with roasted root vegetables and tender chicken, with a homemade crust. This dish comes together very easily and is very versatile and adaptable to what you have in your pantry and fridge. So follow along with Chef Jon, and let us know how yours turns out!
2-3 medium parsnips
2-3 medium carrots
2 sweet potatoes or yams
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
2 cups + 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon of sugar
4 cups of chicken stock — can also sub vegetable stock
Dried rosemary, 1 tablespoon
Poultry seasoning, 2-3 tablespoons — or combo of dried sage and dried thyme
Turmeric, 1-2 tablespoons
2 sticks of butter or margarine
1/2 cup ice water
1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken thighs — can use chicken on the bone as well, but will need to cook longer
1 large Spanish or yellow onion
Garlic, 6-7 cloves
2 baking sheets
1 large skillet or pot
Food processor (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
Season the chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for 25-30 minutes
Chop the carrots, parsnips, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes into chunks — don’t worry if they’re not all the exact same size. That’s what makes this dish rustic, and they’re also going to be covered with our crust.
Toss the veggies with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary and spread on a parchment lined sheet pan, and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour
Meanwhile, let’s make the crust — this is a super simple crust, but you can also feel free to use a store-bought pie crust or puff pastry
For the crust: add 2 cups of ﬂour, sugar, butter/margarine, turmeric, half of the poultry seasoning, and 1 teaspoon of salt into the bowl of a food processor. Don’t have a food processor? Feel free to use a hand mixer, pastry cutter, or even 2 forms — just try to resist the urge to use your hands since we want the butter/margarine and the dough to stay cold
Pulse the ingredients together, then start to pour the ice water (ice included) through the feeder (or add a bit at a time if not using food processor) until the dough starts to crawl up the side of the bowl and becomes a loose ball of dough
Empty the dough out onto a ﬂoured board or counter and gently form into a ball —resist the urge to knead!
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but up to overnight
While the dough is chilling, sauté chop up the onions and garlic, and start to sauce the onion on medium heat with a little bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper
Once the onions are golden brown, add the garlic and rest of the poultry seasoning and a bit more olive oil
Make a roux in same pan by adding a couple of tablespoons of ﬂour — don’t worry about the onions clumping up. They will loosen up when we add the liquid later on
Let the roux cook until it’s nicely browned but not burnt, then add the chicken (or veggie) stock
Lower the heat to simmer and once the sauce has thickened, add the wine
Let the sauce thicken again until it’s about the consistency of gravy, then add the chicken and roasted veggies
Turn off the heat and mix well — you want the chicken and veggies to all be coated with the sauce and for all of the ingredients to become one
Take your crust out of the fridge, and roll out your dough to about 1/4 inch thickness or until it’s as big as the pan you’ll be using (I usually use a rectangular pyrex)
Fill your pot pie pan with the chicken-veggie mixture until it’s full but not overﬂowing because the crust will expand a bit
Layer the crust over the mixture and tuck it into the sides — don’t worry about it being perfect. It will patch itself up a bit in the oven
Make sure to cut a few of slits in top crust to allow for steam to escape or your pie may explode (really!)
Bake at 375 for 45min to 1 hour, or until crust is golden brown and crispy
Serve hot (if making later freeze or refrigerate the pot pie after putting on the top crust on and bake at same temp for an additional 15 min). Enjoy!
For our next episode of Cooking Under Quarantine, we’ll be making one of my favorite Fall dishes — Moroccan Chicken Tagine. While my version of this classic Moroccan dish isn’t actually cooked inside of a tagine pot, but it echoes a lot of the flavors that I love when I ordering tagines at Moroccan restaurants — a little bit sweet, salty, sour, savory and the protein is always fall apart tender. It’s very comforting as the weather turns colder, and is also great to make in the slow cooker! So follow along with Chef Jon, and let us know how yours turns out.
1 chicken cut into 8 pieces or 1-2 lb package of boneless chicken thighs
2 preserved lemons, chopped — Can buy preserved lemons at most specialty food stores, but can also substitute 2-3 regular lemons, juices and zest grated
Parsley or Cilantro (optional)
Blend the spices and any other spices you like and add a couple tablespoons of olive oil — enough to form into a rub and coat the chicken on all sides with it, Let the chicken marinate for at least 15 minutes in the spice rub
Sauté chicken in olive oil in a hot Dutch oven or deep pot on both sides until browned but not fully cooked through
Remove chicken and set aside. You’ll come back to it later
In same pot add garlic and onions and cook until starting to brown (approx 5 min)
Add carrots and keep cooking
If you have extra, season the veggies with more of the spice rub and heat until fragrant
Add preserved lemon and olives to the pot
Add broth and lemon juice to veggie pan to deglaze the pan, and make sure to scrape bottom of the pot for flavor bits — add just enough broth so that the liquid covers the ingredients
Add aprocots to the pot and make sure to give everything a good mix!
Add the chicken back in and stir all together — taste the liquid and adjust seasonings to your taste. Maybe add more lemon, salt, etc
Heat on medium high for 5-10 minutes until the liquid begins to simmer, then cover and lower heat to medium low and simmer for about 45 min – 1 hour
Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and/or parsley then spoon over couscous or serve in a bowl with sides of your choosing.
I love to serve this dish with some lemon couscous, herb roasted tomatoes and some crusty bread to mop up all the delicious sauce. It’s always a big hit and perfect for leftovers!
My family is celebrating my brother’s upcoming marriage with a small, outdoor wedding. But, I wanted to share the recipes for what we’ll be eating with you, so that you can recreate those flavors at home! So follow along with Chef Jon in the video above (or on YouTube HERE) or by following the recipe below, as we make Pistachio-Coconut Crusted Salmon with an Arugula-Pistachio Pesto and Grilled Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad. Perfect for a summer celebration!
Pistachio-Coconut Crusted Salmon
Salmon fillets, skin on
Garlic, 3-4 cloves
1/2 cup of shelled pistachios
1/2 cup shredded coconut flakes, unsweetened
1 tbsp of dijon mustard — can substitute mayo if desired
2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of black pepper
2 lemons, halved and grilled cut side down (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
While the oven is preheating, let’s make the crust — in the bowl of a food processor, add the pistachios, garlic, coconut, 1 tsp of salt and pepper
Pulse in the food processor until the mixture comes together and is similar in texture and size to sand — you can do this without a food processor by putting mixture into a plastic bag and taking your aggression out on it with a rolling pin!
Pat the salmon dry with a towel, and then season with the remaining salt, and transfer it to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper — you can use tin foil, but parchment paper will make sure the salmon won’t stick. Plus, makes for super easy cleanup!
Using a brush or a spoon, spread the dijon all over the flesh of the salmon — this is the glue the helps the crust stick
Using your hands, cover the mustard-covered salmon with the crust mixture. Make sure to cover the fish evenly, so it will cook evenly, and cover it all over — we don’t want any parts uncovered
Once the fish is covered, pour some olive oil over the top to help with browning the crust
Bake the fish for 10-12 minutes then remove from oven and let the fish cool for at least 5 minutes
Garnish with the Arugula-Pistachio pesto, grilled lemons and serve with Grilled Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad. Yum!
1-2 cups of arugula or baby arugula
1 cup of pistachios — you can substitute walnuts if you’ve used up all your pistachios on the fish
1-2 tsps of lemon zest
1-2 tbsps of lemon juice
Garlic, 4-5 cloves
1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or Pecorino Romano or an aged, hard cheese
In the bowl of a food processor (or mortar and pestle) add all of the ingredients except for the oil
Pulse the mixture continuously while adding olive oil until it turns into a loose paste. I like mine a little coarse and chunky, but you can choose your own thickness
If you find it too thick, add more olive oil or a bit more lemon juice. Make sure to taste it!
Empty mixture into a bowl and let it sit at least 10-15 minutes before using — this pesto is also great as a pasta sauce. Just mix the cold or room temperature pesto into hot pasta. So good!
Grilled Corn, Tomato & Avocado Salad
Corn, 4-5 ears
Cherry tomatoes, 1 pint, cut in half
Red onion, 1 medium or 1/2 large onion, diced
Avocados, 2 — make sure that your avocados are ripe, but not mushy, chopped in 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup of champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 tbsp of honey
1 tbsp of dijon mustard
2 tsps of dried mint
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1/3 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of fresh cilantro
Heat your grill or grill-pan to medium heat — you want it hot, but not smoking
While the grill is getting hot, clean your corn by removing both the husk and silk strands — you want corn to grill contact to happen
Place the corn on the grill (and some lemon halves which make a great garnish) — don’t worry about turning the corn too too often since you want some of that char and grill color on the corn. You should probably give it a nudge every 3-5 minutes — it will only take about 10-15 minutes total to cook
While the corn is grilling, dice your onion and chop the tomatoes in half and place in a large bowl big enough for mixing
Once your corn has come off the grill and cooled for a few min, cut off the end of the corn so you have a straight edge, and balance the corn on its straight end
Using a sharp, chef’s knife, starting at the top of the ear, cut of the corn kernels by cutting straight down, and rotate the corn once you get to the bottom and repeat until you’ve cut all of the corn off the cob. Repeat for all of the ears or corn. Add the corn to the tomatoes and onions
Cut your avocados by running a sharp knife along the outside, around the pit until you’ve gone all the way around. Use your hands to twist the 2 halves apart
Take your knife and thwack it into the avocado pit so it sticks into it, then twist to detach the pit from the avocado
Use a spoon to scoop out the avocado meat and chop into 1/2 inch pieces
Drizzle the avocado pieces in lemon juice to keep them bright green before you mix into the corn salad mixture.
For the dressing: mix honey, champagne vinegar, olive oil, dijon, salt, pepper, cilantro and mint in a bowl and mix vigorously until the dressing is one homogeneous mixture — I like to use a mason jar.
Pour the dressing over the corn-tomato mixture (reserving some dressing if needed later) and add the avocados
Gently toss everything together until all of the ingredients have a little bit of dressing on them, and make sure to be delicate with the avocado so it doesn’t get mushed
Garnish with more chopped cilantro, and erve with your favorite fish or chicken dish on a beautiful summer day — like for a wedding celebration perhaps. Bon appetit!
Cooking Under Quarantine is back! In this episode, we’re making Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya.
I ate Jambalaya for the first (and certainly not the last!) time while visiting New Orleans. New Orleans is the kind of city that foodie dreams are made of, and I love it. In the past, I’d visit about once a year with friends and we’d spend a long weekend eating delicious cajun food, drinking, spending time at the pool, then rinse and repeat.
So, when I thought of what to make next in this series, the choice was easy. Jambalaya is a hearty rice-based dish with meat and/or seafood, tomato, veggies and a little cajun kick. This comforting one-pot dish comes together in under an hour and is super versatile and adaptable for cooks of any level. So follow along with Chef Jon and let us know how yours turned out!
Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
Boneless chicken breast or thighs, 1-2lb
Andouille sausage (or another kind of smoked sausage), 4 links
Onions, 1 big or 2 small, chopped
Carrots, 2, chopped
Bell pepper, 2 chopped
Scallions, 1 bunch
Can of crushed tomatoes, 28oz can
Tomato paste, small can
Cajun seasoning, 2-3tbsp
Gumbo file, 2 tsp (optional)
Rice, 1 cup
Chicken broth (or vegetable broth), 1-2 cups
Garlic, 5-6 cloves
Favorite brand of hot sauce
Heat olive oil frying pan with at least a 1 inch lip, and sauté sausage for at 7-10 min until browned but not 100% cooked through
Remove sausage from pan and set aside for later.
In the sausage fat, start to sauté your veggies. Season with salt and pepper
Add garlic once veggies are soft and sauté until starting to brown
Make a well in middle of pan by pushing veggies to the sides, and add chicken
Once chicken has browned, add 1-2 spoonfuls of tomato paste as well as Cajun seasoning
Add rice to pan and toast for a couple of minutes
Add crushed tomatoes and broth and give the pan a few big stirs so everything is mixed up well. Also add sausage back into the pan
Cover and cook for 20-25 min depending on what kind of rice you’re using — stir pan every 5-10 min but don’t mess with it too much. Add extra liquid if needed
While everything is going on, even a quick run to the grocery store has become a great feat. So, it seems like a great time to use up those items in your pantry. Something that I almost always have in my cabinet? Canned tuna.
Now, I too love a great tuna sandwich, but tuna salad gets boring after a while, amirite? Enter “Tuna Pasta Puttanesca” — this hearty, comforting pasta dish pulls double duty as not only a delicious dinner, but also uses up ingredients you might not have even remembered you had! Tomatoes, olives, capers, and our star ingredient, TUNA, make this easy meal a crowd pleaser and it’s packed with protein so will feed about 4 or 2-3 very hungry people!
Tuna Pasta Puttanesca
1lb of pasta (traditionally made with Spaghetti, but you can use any pasta)
28oz can of crushed tomatoes or your favorite jar of tomato sauce
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp of minced garlic or 3-4 cloves finely chopped
1 tin of anchovies in oil
1 small jar of capers, halfway drained
1/4 – 1/2 cup of olives — your favorite kind
2-3 tbsp of tomato paste
2 cans of tuna fish
1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Put a pot of water (at least 6-8 cups) on medium-high heat to start heating up.
In a flat sauté pan (with at least a 1/2 inch lip), add some olive oil and put over medium heat until the oil starts to shimmer.
Add the anchovies 1-2 at a time to the oil, so they start to “melt.”
Once the anchovies start breaking down, add the garlic and use the back of your spoon to spread out.
Once the garlic starts to brown, add all the herbs and red pepper flakes until you begin to smell the aroma of the herbs coming off the pan.
Add the tomato paste and break up with your spoon.
After 3-4 minutes, add the capers and olives, including half of the caper brine.
Let this cook for a few minutes until there is only a little bit of liquid left, and it is mostly solid and mixed in with the tomatoes.
Add the can of crushed tomatoes and give this a big stir to blend everything.
Once this mixture comes to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low.
In the meantime, your water should have come to a boil — make sure it’s a rolling boil!
Add a big handful of salt to the water — this step is needed to not only season the pasta but also help the sauce come together later from the starch that comes off the pasta.
Add the pasta to the water and give it a swirl.
Add the tuna to the tomato mixture and mix it into the sauce.
Cook pasta for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often to separate strands/pieces.
Once pasta is al dente (still has a slight bite), add it directly to the saucepan along with a little bit of pasta water (make sure you reserve some more pasta water for later), and bring the heat to medium/medium-high.
Toss pasta in the sauce and heat through for a few minutes so the flavors can come together.
Serve yourself a big bowl of Tuna Pasta Puttanesca — you did it! Yum!
For the last couple of years, I’ve been heavily focused on my catering company, J2Food. While the current public health crisis is going on, there are less parties and events happening, but people have still got to eat, right?!? And since we’re all stuck inside, why don’t we cook together? Enter in our new cooking series — “Cooking Under Quarantine.” Each episode will feature delicious and easy-to-make recipes that you can make at home with accessible ingredients. Perfect for chefs of all levels!
For our first episode, we’re cooking up a classic chicken dish to celebrate Shabbat (Friday night). This delicious Chicken Marsala is an easy, one pot dish that comes together in under an hour! So, it’s also great for a weeknight dinner that you want to make a little more special. This recipe is also great for veal cutlets or even tofu or a meaty fish to make it vegetarian.
I love coming up with new ways to cook with some of my favorite ingredients, especially comfort foods. To me, a big wok full of curry is super comforting and was one of the dishes I made all the time when I moved into my first solo apartment. It’s warm, earthy, spicy and makes me feel good all over. Plus, it’s amazing for leftovers! So, when Mama Lam’s, a local food vendor making and selling their own Malaysian Curry Paste that I had the pleasure of meeting at the annual Queens Taste, event contacted me about partnering up, I was excited. I couldn’t wait to try cooking with their homemade, Malaysian curry paste and curating a couple of dishes to use their product in.
I decided to create a curry themed meal featuring Mama Lam’s Curry Paste two ways—a Pistachio Crusted Curry Salmon and a Curry Noodles with Crispy Tofu. Check out the recipes below and also watch my YouTube cooking demo here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PCoQ8uLQYU.
Pistachio Crusted Curry Salmon
4-6 salmon filets (skin on)
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1/2 jar of Mama Lam’s curry paste
1 tbsp Sambal Olek or another Southeast Asian chili sauce—Sriracha works fine.
I recommend not skipping this ingredient, even if you don’t like spicy food. The fish has a warming heat and it is very much tempered by the coconut milk and acidity of the lime juice
1/2 can of coconut milk
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp of ginger, chopped
1 stalk of lemongrass, cut into pieces–you can also use 1/2 tbsp of chopped lemongrass from a tube. You’ll find this near the fresh herbs in the market
Juice of 2 limes
2 cups of roasted pistachios, shell removed
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp of black pepper
Create a marinade with the chili sauce, ginger, garlic, lime juice, coconut milk, lemongrass, oil, salt and pepper
Marinade the salmon for at least an hour and up to 4 hours
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Crush the pistachios with either your hands or a mallet. A rolling pin works well too—this is very cathartic and a great way to take out your aggression. Ha!
After the fish has soaked, dip the salmon into the pistachios and coat on sides and top with the nuts
Place the salmon skin side down on a greased baking pan and bake for 20 minutes until the crust is set—The fish should be cooked through, but still a bit pink in the center and very moist. It will continue cooking for a few minutes once it comes out of the oven
Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice over the top
This fish is delicious served all on its own with a fresh salad or some roasted asparagus, but is even better with some Curry Noodles!
Curry Noodles with Crispy Tofu
1 package of firm tofu, 14oz
1 pound of broad rice noodles
2 bell peppers, chopped
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 eggplant—chopped into bite sized pieces. I love to use Japanese or graffiti eggplant for this dish not only because of the beautiful color, but also because it has less water in it than an Italian eggplant, so it’ll be sweeter and stay firmer when cooked down
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp of fish sauce
1/2 jar of Mama Lam’s curry paste
1 tbsp of Sambal Olek chili sauce
1 bunch of scallions, chopped (reserve some for garnish)—also called green onion or spring onion in some supermarkets
1 can of coconut milk—do not use reduced fat as the texture and thickness of the sauce will be off. Plus, coconut milk is a healthy fat
Vegetable or peanut oil—any high heat oil will do such as canola, corn, grapeseed oil, etc.
The first step of this dish is to make the crispy tofu—who doesn’t like their tofu crispy?
Tofu has a lot of water, which is why it usually tastes bland. In fact, the biggest mistake that most cooks make when handling tofu is not getting rid of the excess water. This will never work! Even if you just want to marinade the tofu you’ll still need to do this step
Put the tofu between two paper towels and press. Repeat this process 2-3 times, and then let the tofu sit between the towels for at least 20 minutes to really draw out the moisture
Heat up your wok until it starts to smoke a little, then add the oil. It’s important that you don’t add your oil before this as you don’t want it to bubble up and burn you
Add the tofu to the wok and spread it out in a single layer—you should hear it sizzle. If there’s no sizzle, then your wok isn’t hot enough and your tofu will steam instead of crisp up
Let the tofu cook on one side for a couple min, then mix it up and repeat this process a few times until it’s crispy on all sides. This shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes or so
Put your tofu on a plate and place aside for later on
Heat your wok back up on the stove while you get the rest of your ingredients ready
Add some more oil, then add the garlic, ginger and scallions—this is the holy trinity of Asian dishes!
Let these sauté for a minute, then add the curry paste and heat through, followed by the onions, peppers and eggplant
Let the veggies cook for a few minutes, then add the fish sauce, chili sauce and coconut milk and stir until it becomes a homogenized sauce
Cook the curry for at least 10 minutes or longer depending on how thick you like your sauce—as it cooks the flavors of the salty fish sauce, spicy chilis, earthy curry and more will concentrate
Meanwhile, drop the rice noodles into some salted boiling water—off the heat—and let soak for 5 minutes
Add the par-cooked noodles to the curry and toss together in the wok
Let the noodles and curry cook together as the noodles absorb the sauce and meld together into one cohesive dish
Garnish with the crispy tofu, fresh cilantro, chopped scallions, and some chopped peanuts or pistachios if you’d like to tie the two dishes together even more
Eat while still hot or add some sesame oil and have as a cold salad the next day for lunch. Yum!
Enjoy these dishes together with a Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad for a fabulous Southeast Asian inspired dinner at home.
The other day, someone who I had met at a food festival asked me for the recipe for this Moroccan Chicken. They had eaten it at an event I had catered in Philadelphia a couple of months ago though my catering company, J2Food, and loved it. I don’t always give out some of my more secret recipes, but since she was so nice, I decided to write it up and post it here for all of you 🙂 This Moroccan Chicken dish isn’t actually cooked inside of a “tagine” pot, but it echoes a lot of the flavors that I love when I ordering tagines at Moroccan restaurants — a little bit sweet, salty, sour, savory and the protein is always fall apart tender. It’s very comforting in this winter weather, and is also great to make in the slow cooker! Let me know how yours turns out.
The other night I was thinking about what to make for dinner on my way home, when I passed by one of the ubiquitous Halal carts. I don’t know why, but whenever I pass a Halal food cart, I always take a big sniff…it just smells so good! It immediately made me think of Middle Eastern flavors with lots of spices, citrus, and conversation. That night I made chicken shawarma for dinner with fixings, and instead of using store-bought dips, I decided to make my own–and it was so easy! Rustic lemon hummus consists of a quick trip to the pantry for most of the ingredients, and roasted eggplant babaghanoush will make your fellow diners think you’re a spice savant! Try these Middle Eastern spreads at home and you’ll never feel the need to head to the grocery the next time you want to eat some hummus.
Rustic Lemon Hummus
1 can of chickpeas—canned chickpeas are super easy and always in my pantry, but dried chickpeas that you soak overnight are really the best for this recipe and will give you a cleaner flavor
3 tablespoons of tahini paste
2 lemons—juice of both, and the zest of one
1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of paprika
Rinse the chickpeas off under cold water until you get rid of all of the gunk from the can off of the chickpeas
In a food processor or blender–I only had my KitchenAid mixer available, so that’s what I used–add the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper
Start to mix all of the ingredients on low to slowly break up the chickpeas until it becomes a thick paste
Add in the rest of the spices, and gradually add the oil as you increase the speed to medium
The hummus is done when it gets to your personal consistency preference—I like mine a bit chunky—great for pita chips!
Spoon out into a bowl and eat with chips, pita, or use it was a topping for your favorite falafel. Hummus is also delicious as a spread or used in place of mayonnaise or mustard on sandwiches
Roasted Eggplant Babaghanoush
1 large eggplant
1 1/2 tablespoon of smoked paprika—this goes well with the roasted and charred eggplant, but regular paprika works just as well
1 1/2 tablespoon of cumin—add the extra teaspoon if you don’t have smoked paprika. The cumin has a natural smokiness that can compensate
4 garlic cloves, grated
1 1/2 tablespoons of salt
2 teaspoons of black pepper
1 tablespoon fo fresh parsley, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of tahini paste
1/4 of an onion, grated
Hot sauce (to taste)—I like mine spicy, but this dip is delicious mild as well
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit
Cut your eggplant in half lengthwise—Resist the urge to peel it at this point! The peel will not only help keep moisture in the eggplant flesh, but also hold it together in the oven.
Use a fork or sharp paring knife to poke holes into the eggplant skin all over
Rub the flesh side with olive oil and season with 1/2 tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 1/2 tablespoon of paprika and 1/2 tablespoon of cumin
Roast the eggplant for 20-25 minutes until the skin is charred and the flesh becomes slightly creamy and the outside if browned—you want the skin to get black
Once the eggplant has cooled a bit, but still hot, use a knife or fork to remove the charred skin—it should come off very easily
Discard the skin and spoon the flesh into the bowl of a mixer or food processor
Pulse together the eggplant with the remaining ingredients until it comes together in a thick dip—feel free to blend it as much as you’d like
Serve similarly to the hummus, and garnish with a squeeze of lemon juice and extra parsley, and enjoy—One of my favorite ways to consume the eggplant is to make sabich, an Iraqi sandwich that consists of hard boiled eggs and fried eggplant on fresh pita bread. Babaghanoush would be a wonderful substitute for the traditional fried eggplant, and maybe add some salty feta cheese to give the sandwich a rich umami flavor
All I know is that both of these spreads are absolutely delicious, and are perfect for any dinner party or even an afternoon snack. You can also feel free to customize your hummus and babaghanoush—substitute cilantro for the parsley for a more Mexican version, top your hummus with some mushrooms sautéed with zhatar spice, or make a festive zucchini version of babaghanoush and spread it on some thick toast and top with avocado. Yummy! I love to simply serve them with some homemade pita chips!
Sorry I’ve been away for a few weeks, but work’s been crazy! This recipe is actually inspired by all of the craziness. I wanted something that was not only delicious, but also comforting. This lasagna is packed full of roasted vegetables, so it’s also a healthy dinner to serve your family. This recipe might seem like it has a lot of steps, but all of them are simple and can be multitasked. So if you want to feed a crowd, or have a lot of leftovers–which are delicious!–try this recipe for Roasted Vegetable Lasagna.
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes—my favorite brand is San Marzano for its inherent sweetness, but any brand should be fine
½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
2 ½ teaspoons of dried oregano
1 tin of anchovy filets—it’s important that the anchovies are packed in oil as opposed to water since you want to flavor and richness of the oil to help flavor the sauce. Flat filets are also easier for melting into the oil
4-5 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 pound of grape tomatoes—quartered whole tomatoes or cherry tomatoes could work in this dish too, but grape tomatoes are a nice size and roast beautifully in the oven
Salt and pepper
1 pound of cremini mushrooms, halved or quartered depending on size
2 small to medium zucchini, cut into half moons
2 small to medium yellow squash, cut into half moons
1 green pepper, sliced into strips
1 large onion, chopped roughly
1 pound of ricotta cheese—it might be tempting to use low fat here, but use whole milk ricotta—trust me, you’ll taste the difference!
1 cup of Parmesan cheese—shredded or grated as long as you’d eat it on your pasta
10 oz package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained—Make sure you squeeze as much water out of the spinach as you can
1 box of oven ready lasagna noodles
1 bag of shredded mozzarella—one of those Italian blends works too
1 small ball of fresh mozzarella (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Toss tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of oil, 1 teaspoon of oregano and salt, and ½ teaspoon of black pepper
Spread tomatoes on a sheet pan and roast for 15-20 minutes
At the same time, use a second, larger sheet pan for the zucchini, squash, pepper and onion and increase to 2 tablespoons of oil, 1 tablespoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of oregano, and 1 teaspoon of pepper
Roast the veggies for around 30 minutes, while you prepare the rest of the components for the lasagna
Drop the heat to 375 degrees when the veggies come out of the oven
While the veggies are in the oven, add enough olive oil to a big sauté pan to coat the bottom and heat on medium-high heat
Add anchovies to the pan and break them up with a back of a wooden spoon—Don’t skip this step! Even if you don’t like anchovies, the high heat will melt the filets into the oil and it will give needed background and depth to your sauce
Once the anchovy is melted, add the garlic and brown for about a minute or two
Add the mushrooms—it’s important for mushrooms to be spread out for them to brown evenly. If they’re too crowded in the pan, then they’ll start to steam and turn rubbery
Once the mushrooms have cooked, season with a teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of black pepper,½ teaspoon of oregano
Add the crushed tomatoes to the pan and stir—you want the seasonings to be evenly spread throughout
Reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until the roasted tomatoes are ready to come out of the oven, and then transfer tomatoes to the sauce
Continue to simmer for another 5 minutes
While the sauce is finishing up, you can work on the ricotta layer
In a large bowl, add ricotta cheese, parmesan, eggs, and spinach, as well as a teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper
Whisk all the ingredients together for about 3-4 minutes
Time to assemble the layers! In a 9×13 baking dish, spoon a bit of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish
Add the lasagna noodles to the dish in a single layer all the way across—I shingled a little and also got creative by using one noodle that I cracked to fill in empty crevices
The next layer should be some more tomato sauce
Next up is a layer of the roasted vegetables
After the vegetables should be a layer of the ricotta mixture—don’t skimp on the ricotta!
After the ricotta comes the cheese layer—add about ¼ of the bag of mozzarella cheese over the ricotta
Repeat the layering another 3 times, and top with a layer of noodles
For the final layer, add a thick layer of tomato sauce all over the top, followed by the rest of the cheese, and a handful of parmesan—for my top layer, I actually like to use some fresh mozzarella since it melts so beautifully and makes for a beautiful presentation
I place the whole thing onto a larger sheet tray so that if there’s spillage, it doesn’t go all over the oven floor
Bake in the oven at 375 degrees, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes
Let it cool for at least 5-10 minutes before you cut into it. In fact, lasagna is a great make-ahead dish that you can keep in the fridge for up to 2 days before heating it. If you plan to refrigerate, make sure you add an additional 10-12 minutes to the cooking time. Also, this makes for a pretty saucy lasagna, but if you want you can reserve some extra sauce and spoon it over the top of each piece as it’s served, and garnish with some extra parmesan. Now who wouldn’t want a piece of that beauty? Buon Appetito!