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Roasted Eggplants with Ground Lamb and Yogurt Tahini Sauce

8 Oct

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Eggplant season is still here, and I’ve seen loads of eggplant-related recipes featured on the NYTimes lately, like Martha Rose Shulman’s Lasagna with Tomato Sauce and Roasted Eggplant, Melissa Clark’s Eggplant Dip for non-eggplant eaters, and the awesome Eggplant Marinana Sandwich from Frankies Spuntino Restaurant in Brooklyn. Inspiration central.

It just so happens that while I was ‘fondling’ the beautiful eggplants at the market the other day, my eye flecked over to the Brooklyn Cured meat booth, and they had lamb sausages on special–with Greek yogurt, lemon, and parsley. Suddenly my brain switched from craving a hearty winter pasta to Mediterranean mezze. The weather has been so lovely lately, so I figured I could spare a hearty pasta for a few more weeks. And then I remembered Deb’s recipe for Roasted Eggplant with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce and Cumin-Crisped Chickpeas from her cookbook!

Since I found this amazing lamb, I swapped my usual chickpea preference for ground lamb. With a few heaps of roasted cauliflower (I didn’t use harissa this time but if I had it around I might have…) and warm whole wheat pita, I felt very proud of my meal.

The smaller eggplants are great for roasting in larger hunks (oxymoron?!). I quartered mine because I like a greater surface area for browning on the edges but still being soft on the inside.

As you can see, I smothered my meal in the yogurt-tahini sauce. I ended up making a second batch of the sauce the next day because it was just so good for dipping and spreading. Threw some fresh mint into the mix, but you could use whatever herbs you like, or nix the herbs and go garlic and paprika! This may be my new hummus. And all you have to do is whisk.

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Roasted Eggplant + Ground Lamb

From the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

2-3 small eggplants

olive oil 


1/2 onion, chopped fine

1 lb. of ground lamb or ground lamb sausage

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Take the tops off the eggplants, and either half them or quarter them. Brush a baking sheet with olive oil, place the eggplant pieces cut side up and brush the exposed sides with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, flip, and roast for another 15-20 minutes, until the skin is dimpled and the interior glazed and golden.

About 10 minutes before the eggplants are finished roasting, heat a (cast-iron if you have one) skillet. Add a touch of olive oil and saute the onion until starting to brown. Add in the lamb and cook for about 5 minutes, until no longer pink inside. Drain the fat.

Serve the lamb with the roasted eggplant (you can roast cauliflower, too!), the yogurt tahini sauce, and some warm (whole wheat) pita bread.

Yogurt Tahini Sauce

2/3 cup plain yogurt (I used Stonyfield low-fat yogurt)

1/3 cup tahini

1 garlic clove, minced

pinch of salt

lemon juice, to taste (about 1-3 Tablespoons)

fresh herbs, chopped (I used fresh mint)

Whisk everything together. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Give it a sprinkle of paprika for a pop of color!


>Lemon Chicken Breast with Pan-Roasted Veggies

16 Nov

Leftovers for lunch. What a rare occasion these days. I mean, I do love making sandwiches, but sometimes I just crave a little variety…

Over the weekend, I attended a cooking class in Napa Valley at Whole Foods Market where we made this totally amazing
Moroccan rack of lamb with couscous and fall vegetable ragu

(complete with harissa (red) and chemoula (green) sauces mmm):

The cooking class was part of Sprouts Cooking Club, a cooking program for children in the Bay Area. This class, however, was part of an ADULT series. (Check out their website for more info:

After the class, there were a ton of leftover vegetables and so I took a few home to use for my own pan-roasted vegetable recipe: fennel, beautiful green top carrots, broccoli, and turnip.

The pan-roasted veggie recipe is so simple and any vegetables can be used. I love all the colors-orange, green, yellow, white…

Pan-Roasted Veggies

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa’s Back to Basics

serves 4

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 white turnip, 1-inch dice
2 carrots, 1-inch dice (preferably from carrots with the greens attached)
1 large fennel bulb, diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 head of broccoli, chopped
4 fresh sprigs if your favorite herb (rosemary or thyme are great)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
**I also added a splash of balsamic to my veggies at the very end!!

Melt the butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan that has a tight-fitting lid. When the butter is melted, add everything and toss with the butter. Cover the pan and cook over low-ish heat for 10 minutes. Take the lid off and stir. Cover again and continue to cook for another 5 or so minutes, until all the vegetables are tender. Taste for seasonings and serve hot.

**If you want to double this recipe, make it in 2 batches or use 2 12-inch saute pans. You want to the vegetables to brown on the bottom as well as steam in their own juices.

To go along with my vegetable array, I made a very simple roasted lemon chicken. Saute garlic in olive oil, add some wine, lemon zest and juice, and oregano, plop the chicken over the sauce and roast. Bam.

Leftovers for lunch. Yum yum yum. Aaaannnnd I can take a decent photo of my lunch-leftovers because during the fall/winter, natural lighting is not really feasible for dinner-time photos.

Roasted Lemon Chicken Breast

From Barefoot Contessa

serves 4

1/4 cup good olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves (I used rosemary)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on (roughly 6 oz each)
1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute but don’t allow the garlic to turn brown. Off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and pour into a 9 X 12-inch baking dish.

Pat the chicken breasts dry and place them skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon in 8 wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned. If the chicken isn’t browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the pan juices.

>Lamb Roasted with Garlic, Fresh Herbs, and Red Wine

11 Oct


“I’d rather make something and blow your mind than make something and blow my mind.”
–Michael Wild, Baywolf Restaurant

My mom is a funny woman. Whenever I make her taste something out of her normal eating pattern she will say, “I don’t usually like ____, but this is great!” or “I don’t usually eat ____, but wow is this good!”

Like mother like daughter, today I will say, “I don’t usually eat lamb, but wowza this is mmm mmm good!” Super tender. Marinated overnight with fresh mint and rosemary, garlic, cumin, red wine, and vinegar. Slow roasted in the oven. Butchered to perfection.

Back in the day I used to say that I would never cook meat because I did not like to touch, smell, or look at the raw meat. Let’s just say I conquered that fear. Actually, I quite enjoy rubbing my hands all over a piece of raw meat. It is really soft and almost therapeutic?! Sometimes I even feel like a doctor preparing for surgery. Okay, that may be taking it too far…

Anyway, this was my first attempt at making lamb, and I successfully did it for a house of 60 people! I wish I could have captured a more decent picture of the lamb, sliced and plated and garnished with fresh herbs; however it was devoured before I had the chance.

So here you go, a picture of the huge hunk of meat just before we sliced it.

I decided to use cumin in my marinade because I was making some other dishes that incorporated the spice. Feel free to experiment and add whatever you like to your marinade. You could go for a more Asian style and add chili paste and orange juice, or you could go Italian and add artichoke hearts, olives, and oregano.

This was my menu:
• Cubed melon, cucumber, and red onion salad dressed with balsamic
• Lamb Roasted with Garlic, Herbs, and Red Wine
• Cumin and Turmeric mashed sweet potatoes with spinach, onions, and chickpeas, topped with a peanut-sauce
• Roasted Kale “chips”
• Roasted Parsnips and Beets

Some key tips that I found helped me throughout the process:
(thanks to Alice Waters and her book The Art of Simple Food)

-Cut slats into the meat and shove crushed garlic and herbs in between the slats.

-Make sure that you marinate the lamb for at least a few hours, best if overnight.

-Let the meat come to room temperature before placing in the oven; otherwise it will cook unevenly (aka the outside will be fully cooked before the inside has even had a chance to warm up). Take the meat out at least 1-2 hours ahead of time.

-Keep basting and turning so as to ensure juicy meat.

-The lamb will be done when a meat thermometer reads 128°F.

-After you take the meat out of the oven and before slicing it, you should let the meat rest for about 20 minutes to let the internal temperature stabilize. This is so all of the juices do not leak out, leaving you with unevenly cooked and overly dry pieces.

Roast Lamb with Garlic, Fresh Herbs, and Red Wine
Adapted from The Silver Palate

serves 6-10

*Fresh rosemary, about a tablespoon or so
*Fresh mint leaves, about ½ a cup
*5 garlic cloves, crushed
*½ cup of vinegar (I used half balsamic and half red wine vinegar)
*¼ cup of soy sauce
*½ cup of dry red wine (I used “Two-buck Chuck,” half Cabernet and half Merlot)
*1 Tablespoon of cumin
*black pepper
*1 big hunk of lamb (I think I used the thigh?), about 5 pounds or so

*2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard

1. Cut slats in the lamb. In other words, use a sharp knife to make a few slits (about 3-5) in your hunk of lamb.
2. Combine herbs, garlic, vinegars, soy sauce, red wine, cumin, and black pepper in a bowl. Add the lamb and turn to coat with the marinade. Shove some of the garlic and herb-y pieces in the slits.
3. Marinate the lamb, covered, in the refrigerator, overnight.
4. The next day, take the lamb out of the refrigerator and place it in a shallow roasting pan with all of the marinade. Let it come to room temperature.
5. Preheat oven to 350°F.
6. Spread the mustard over the meat.
7. Bake for 1 ½ hours, or 18 minutes per pound, basting occasionally. The roast will be medium rare (Bake for another 10-15 minutes for well-done meat).
8. Let the roast stand 20 minutes before carving. Serve with the pan juices.