Unique Comfort Food

Root System

Grilled Eggplant with Pesto & Tahini Yogurt Sauce

Cooking eggplant on the grill may have forever changed my perspective on the sometimes-mushy globes. Eggplant parmesan can be greasy or soggy and ratatouille is really all about the tomatoes. Baba ganoush is delicious but I just can’t make it as well as Brassica… But I think I’ve finally cracked the code! Grill. all. the. Things!

I’ve had the best luck with long, thin eggplants, as opposed to the larger round ones. There have fewer seeds and flesh, making it less bitter and much firmer. I believe they’re sometimes called Chinese eggplants, but they’re all over my farmers market right now. Next on my eggplant bucket list (oh wow, how did we get here?) are fairy tale eggplants. Just precious…

Side note: why must people make dirty jokes out of the eggplant emoji?! What did that poor little plant ever do to them? Don’t they know some people want to use it for it’s true form as a deliciously tender and mild vegetable?

Anywho… Let’s talk about the most important part of any recipe. The sauce. I’m a self-proclaimed sauce whore so you know I’m smothering every bite of eggplant with more than a dainty drizzle. The combination of herby pesto and creamy yogurt is everything. I made my own homemade pesto but you sure don’t have to. But you muuuuusssst make the yogurt sauce.

I’ve been using yogurt in more savory recipes and I’m a big fan. Don’t get me wrong, I love some parfait action, but yogurt brings such a welcome tang and creaminess to dinnertime dishes. I use Silk plain soy yogurt because I can buy it in a 24oz. tub. If you’re not against dairy, use whatever plain brand floats your boat.

Recipe:

6-7 long, thin eggplants (or 2-3 larger ones)

2 Tbs. avocado oil (or other high-heat oil)

Pesto

Fresh mint

Yogurt Sauce

½ cup plain yogurt

2 Tbs. tahini

1 clove garlic, grated or finely minced

Zest and juice of one lemon

Steps:

Heat a grill to medium-high heat, making sure the grate are cleaned and oiled.

Slice each eggplant in half lengthways and sprinkle with salt. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then blot them dry.  Brush with oil and season generously with salt and pepper.

Cook the eggplant on the hot grill cut side-down for 4-5 minutes and check to make sure they are well charred. Flip and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes. Remove to a plate and season again with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by adding ingredients to a small bowl or jar and whisking well to combine.

To serve, dollop pesto on eggplant, drizzle with yogurt sauce, and garnish with mint leaves.brand floats your boat.

Fresh Sweet Corn Polenta

Ohio sweet corn is among the most perfect foods in the world. Bare in mind, this is coming from a corn-fed Midwesterner who has been gnawing on cobs since she was old enough to clutch one. But still. There are few things better than fresh corn—except I JUST discovered my favorite way to devour the sweet stuff: Polenta.

It’s not something I eat with any sort of regularity. But I’m always down for a bowl of steaming hot porridge. To be completely honest, prior to this recipe, my polenta preparation skills solely consisted of snipping opening a tube and slicing a log of the stuff. We’ve come a long way with this recipe my friends.

Although, not really! Because this might be even easier than hassling with stubborn plastic and crumbly results. Allow me to elaborate…

Shuck corn (ok this part admittedly sucks)

Cut corn off cob

Simmer corn

Blend corn

Voila!

I told you it doesn’t get any easier.

Impress your friends at a dinner party. Treat your sweetie to a fancy four-course meal. Or just eat the damn stuff straight from the fridge for breakfast because it’s THAT good. Not speaking from experience or anything…

Recipe

6 ears fresh corn

1 tsp. salt

2 Tbs. vegan butter (optional)

Water

Cherry tomatoes, roasted, for garnish (optional)

Parsley, for garnish (optional)

Steps:

Prepare the corn by shucking husks and removing all silk. Rinse under cool water.

Using a large serrated knife, cut the corn off the cob. Then run the back of the knife over the cob to “milk” all of the juice and small bits into the bowl.

Add corn to a sauce pan and add salt and just enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer for 8-10 minutes, until corn is plump.

Use a slotted spoon to scoop kernels into a blender or food processor. Begin blending, adding cooking liquid as needed.

Blend until completely smooth (or a little chucky if you like it that way- I do) and return to pan. Add butter and warm until melted. Serve with roasted tomatoes and chopped fresh parsley.

 

Blisted Shishito Peppers with Herb Dipping Sauce

Shishito peppers. \Shi-shēt-tō\

 

1. a sweet, East Asian variety of the species Capsicum annuum.

2. Relative of Spain’s padrón peppers

3. The seems-fancy but really oh-so-easy appetizer or snack your next party needs!

I’ve had shishito peppers a few times at restaurants but it wasn’t until recently that I stumbled across them at the farmers market. One of the many benefits of shopping locally and supporting small farmers is finding hidden gems like these! Since finding them a few weeks ago, I’ve bought a quart every week and eaten them the exact same way. I also did a little research and discovered that Trader Joe’s and some other grocery stores sell them in their produce section. Shishitos for all!

When asked, the farmer who grows them told us that about 1 in every 12 peppers should be spicy. Not like jalepeño, light you up, ruin your meal spicy but more like a mellow burn. BUT. I wouldn’t know,  since of the hundred of these I’ve eaten, not a single one has been spicy. *shrugs*

If you were to find your mouth a little firey from a spicy pepper, don’t fear! The herb dipping sauce will cool you right down. But trust me, even if your mouth isn’t on fuego, you’ll still want to drink this stuff. I’ve been making a batch of this every week and am mildly obsessed with dipping all my veggies in it. It’s basically homemade Ranch.

When you serve shishito peppers at your next game night, your guests will think you’re a fancy-pants, world-class, well-traveled chef. You don’t have to tell them it took 10 minutes and was the easiest thing you cooked all week. Your secret’s safe with me.

Recipe

1 quart (8oz.) shishito peppers

1 Tbs. avocado oil, or vegetable oil (optional)

Sea salt

!Herb Dipping Sauce

1/3 cup plain non-dairy yogurt

2 tbs. mayo

½ lemon, zest + juice

¼ cup dill, finely minced

2 tbs. parsley, finely minced

1 green onion, finely minced

1 tsp. salt

Pinch pepper

Steps

Make the sauce by combining all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Place a large cast iron skillet over high heat and add oil, if using. Once the oil is hot (a drop of water should shizzle), toss in the peppers. Leave them undisturbed for 4 minutes.

After 4 minutes, use tongs to check that the peppers are charred on one side. Once they are, flip and cook another 3-4 minutes. Remove to a plate and enjoy immediately with dipping sauce.

For more at-home genius from Brehm, visit areyoukitchenme.com or follow her @areyoukitchenme.

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