Saturday, September 25, 2010

Roasted Eggplant Spread

Roasted eggplant spread is wonderful to have on hand to make quick snacks, elegant meals and appetizers. Use it as a sandwich spread or sauce/topping for pasta or rice - Delicious!
Eggplant Spread Ready to Serve
Using a food processor to slice all the veggies make it a snap to prepare this dish.

Chopped Veggies

1 large Globe Eggplant
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 large Red Onion
1 clove Garlic
1/2 tsp Red Pepper flakes (to taste)
2 Tbsp fresh Thyme or 2 tsp dry
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 pinch Turmeric
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped

Ready for roasting

Toasted Almonds
Sliced Green or Black Olives
2 oz. Feta or Goat cheese
2 Tbsp Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Fresh Basil leaves


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Wash all the veggies and herbs.

If you are using a food processor, cut the eggplants and peppers into long pieces that will fit the chute. Use the slicing plate to process. Or chop using a knife into small bite size pieces.

Coarsely chop onion. Mince the garlic. Chop the herbs.

Place all the veggies in a large rimmed baking pan coated with the olive oil.

Add salt, rest of the oil, garlic, thyme, chili flakes; shake/stir well to coat.

Place pan on the bottom rack of the oven and roast the veggies for about 40 to 45 minutes or until soft and lightly browned. Stir once every 15 minutes or so during baking so that all the veggies cook evenly.

Remove from the oven, stir in the basil, cool and mash slightly or process in a food processor into a coarse puree. Chill until ready to serve.

Spoon the eggplant spread on a serving dish and garnish as desired. Coarsely crush the almonds with a pestle or rolling pin to use as a topping.

Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature with any crusty bread, crackers, and/or crisp veggies including Romaine lettuce hearts. Enjoy!

Thyme-Scented Toasted Almond Nibbles

Thyme-scented Almonds are a wonderful snack or starter. They also make a delicious and different garnish for all types of dishes including salads and spreads. Herb scented almonds are very easy to make and can be made up to one week ahead.


2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup Almonds
2 or 3 sprigs fresh Thyme
1/4 tsp Red pepper flakes or more
1/4 tsp Sea Salt


Heat olive oil in a wok or skillet.

Add the almonds and stir for a 3 or 4 minutes.

Sprinkle pepper flakes and chopped thyme with the salt.

Cook stirring until almonds are toasted and golden.

Cool and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Freeze the almonds for longer storage.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tostada (Beans & Salsa Topped Crispy Corn Tortillas)

Tostadas are the Mexican version of Indian "chat" dishes - quick and flavorful melange of crispy bread bases with cooked or fresh veggies, beans, and piquant chutneys, etc. For tostadas, crispy, crunchy corn tortillas form the base for any number of toppings which typically include Frijoles (beans), cheese, and salsas. They are fun to serve - and eat ;P - for informal family as well as company meals as each person can tailor the meal according to individual needs/taste. Children particularly love making their own.

Everything can be prepared ahead with minimal last minute fuss - a great plus for the host/hostess! I love serving tostadas for large groups as there is no need for any other dishes - all the food groups are represented. Just place everything in bowls and baskets and let the guests/diners assemble their own. Provide knives and forks to eat the tostadas even though they can be eaten without any utensils if we don't get carried away and pile them mile-high with all the toppings :-).

Note: Although there is no comparison, purchased canned beans (nonfat re-fried beans) and salsas can be used instead of the homemade if you are short on time. Tostadas can also be made as snacks or starters; use round or other shapes of tortilla chips instead of the tostada shells for these if you wish.

8 Servings


1 recipe Frijoles or Black Beans
1 head Romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
1 recipe Salsa I or Salsa II or Avocado Salsa
1 package Mexican style or other cheese, shredded
1 cup Sour Cream
1 red onion, sliced thinly
1 Lime, juiced
1 cup each sliced Radishes, green onions (scallions), and chopped Cilantro
1or 2 ripe Avocados, peeled and cut into small cubes
Lime wedges to serve
1 package Tostada Shells (allow 2 shells per person)


Prepare Frijoles and one or more your favorite Salsas; these can be made up to two days ahead.

Place the onions in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and half of the lime juice; let marinate at least for one hour or up to one day ahead.

On the day of serving, warm the frijoles until hot. Warm the tostada shells if you wish.

Place all the other ingredients in individual serving bowls.

Cut the avocado just before serving and sprinkle with some lime juice.

Invite everyone to assemble their own tostada. Pass the lime wedges to squeeze on top.

Eat!! Enjoy! Buen Provecho!

Sprouts II (Micro-Greens)

Now that making various bean Sprouts have been mastered, here are some more sprouts that are just as delicious and easy to make. You can follow the same method for bean sprouts; do plan ahead as these sprouts take a few days to become ready for eating.

Typically these micro-greens are not cooked but added to salads and sandwiches for their flavorful crunch or used as a topping or garnish. They are not just good-tasting but also packed with easily digestible protein, vitamins, and minerals. They are great sources of dietary fiber and many have sizable amounts of trace minerals vital for good health.

Seeds of all kinds such as Sunflower, Alfalfa, Chia, Clover, Fenugreek, Garlic Chives, Mustard, Radish, etc. all make wonderful sprouts. [Grain and vegetable seeds such as wheat, cabbage and broccoli can also be sprouted; but I have not tried them yet.] These seeds (specifically for sprouting) can be purchased in larger quantities from a health food store or an internet source.

You might want to start with just a Tablespoon of the seeds as some grow to make a good amount. Use separate jars for different seeds as they sprout at different rates. I like using glass jars for sprouting as these allow one to see how the sprouting is progressing and allow light in to enrich the sprouts with chlorophyll.


1 Tbsp seeds
Glass jars (1 quart/liter size)
Muslin cloth or fine strainers


Place the seeds of your choice in a clean jar and soak in plenty of fresh water for several hours or overnight.

Drain and rinse thoroughly; a small clean muslin cloth or a fine strainer can be of help in draining and prevent the loss of the precious seeds down the drain.

Cover with a clean cloth loosely and let sit undisturbed on a well lit counter next to a window (but not in direct sun).

Rinse with fresh water and drain thoroughly twice daily. Too much moisture will cause them to spoil.

When seeds have sprouted and grown to your liking, rinse and drain well and store covered in the fridge until ready to use. Rinse and drain once daily.

The sprouts will last about a week.

Serve the sprouts in salads, sandwiches, etc. as you wish. Enjoy!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Keerai Masiyal (Velvety Spinach Puree)

Another classic South Indian veggie dish - it is very simple but very delicious and healthful too! Keerai Masiyal (literally Spinach Puree) appears regularly for daily meals in South Indian homes as it is considered very healthy since spinach and other dark green leafy veggies contain good amounts of protein and fiber. Luxuriously velvety, good tasting, and mild, I adored it even as a child; what's not to love?

Mild Keerai and some type of spicy Kuzhambu is a classic combination; in fact, Keerai Masiyal is traditionally served along with sambar or other sour and spicy kuzhambus flavored with tamarind. It is a much loved combo in our household. Other greens such as watercress, chard, etc may be used alone or in combination to make masiyal. Young and tender greens make the best tasting masiyal.

And, as far I know, this is the only dish where whole toasted rice is used as a seasoning!!

Nutritional Data per 1/6 of the recipe: Approximately - 23 Calories, 1.4 g Protein, 2.6 g Carbohydrates, 1.3 g Fiber, .8 g Fat, and 220 mg Sodium.

4 - 6 Servings


12 oz. cleaned and washed baby Spinach
1 hot green chili (optional)
1 pinch Turmeric
1/2 tsp Sea Salt or to taste
1 pinch Sugar (optional)

1 tsp Coconut Oil
1 tsp uncooked rice
1 dry hot red chili, broken in half and seeds removed
1 tsp Urad Dal
1 small sprig Curry Leaves, finely chopped


Finely chop the spinach.

Cut a slit in the green chili.

Place the green chili in the bottom of a pan and add a little water (about 1/4 cup) - you don't need too much but just enough to steam the spinach.

Add the spinach on top of the chili and cook until very hot and steamy and the spinach wilts.

Stir well and remove the chili before mashing if you like the dish to be mild.

Add the turmeric, , salt and sugar. Mash with the back of a spoon and cook until spinach is soft and has a creamy consistency - a few minutes more.

Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat the oil and add the rice; cook stirring until rice starts to puff.

Add the chili and urad dal and continue cooking and shaking/stirring until rice and dal are golden.

Stir in the curry leaves carefully as they might sputter and spatter as they come in contact with the hot oil.

Stir the curry leaf mixture into the masiyal immediately and keep covered for a few minutes.

Serve hot with any Kuzhambu or Sambar and rice or roti. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cauliflower Puree (Gobhi Bharta)

Make mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes! It is guaranteed to be a taste treat and a healthy alternative to the traditional mashed potatoes. It is quite satisfying and the best thing is it is good for you!

For a variation, saute one tablespoon finely chopped ginger (and more green chilies if you like it really spicy) with the onion mixture; then add 1/2 tsp turmeric and 2 finely chopped tomatoes and cook until they are soft before adding the cauliflower. Chopped cilantro is another flavorful addition stirred in just before serving. Serve hot sprinkled with one teaspoon Garam Masala or freshly ground toasted cumin seeds.

Garam Masala is a spice mix which is available in Indian markets.

4 Servings


1 Cauliflower (about 1 lb), coarsely chopped
1 White or Brown skinned Onion
1 clove Garlic
1 Tbsp Olive Oil/butter
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 green chili, hot or mild
1 small bunch Regular or Garlic Chives
Freshly ground black pepper, to serve
Butter, to serve (optional)


Chop the onion, garlic and the green chili finely.

Heat the oil/butter in a large pan and cook the onions, garlic and chili with a pinch of salt and until the veggies are tender and translucent; if they dry out, sprinkle a little water as needed.

Add the cauliflower to the pan and stir to coat and cook for a couple of minutes.

Sprinkle a couple of tbsp of water, the rest of the salt and cover and cook stirring occasionally until cauliflower is tender. Let cool for a few minutes.

While the cauliflower is cooking, chop the chives finely - it might be easier to use a pair of kitchen scissors to snip the chives. Set aside.

When cool enough to handle, puree the cauliflower mixture using a food processor.

Check for seasoning, add more salt if needed.

Serve hot garnished with the chives and some butter if desired. Pass the freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pizza Pronto (Quick Pizza)

When you want something quick and healthy but also tastes fantastic, make Pizza Pronto! As Kou can attest to, quick pizzas were one of the perfectly handy after-school snacks. I could always count on dependable Pizza Pronto to assuage the ravenous hunger of Kou and his playmates. This is a great recipe for budding chefs and Do-It-Yourself meals.

Any bread will lend itself to making quick pizza; although I prefer Pita bread, Naan, Lavash, English Muffins, etc., other breads will work also with good results. Just have all the ingredients ready and each diner can construct his/her own. Fun, practical, and easy on the host/hostess too :-).

Here are the ingredients for 4 pita-pizzas - mangia, mangia!

4 Servings


about 1/2 cup Marinara Sauce, homemade or store bought
3 oz. Shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 oz. Shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 each - Bell Peppers(Capsicums) - red, yellow, or green or a combination
1 cup Roasted Veggies (Optional)
12 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 small Red Onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup green/black Olives, thinly sliced
A handful of Basil leaves (fresh) torn into small pieces
4 Pita breads


Have all the ingredients in bowls; they can be prepared ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.

Have each diner spread sauce if they wish, and add their favorite toppings.

Divide the cheeses among the pizzas.

Bake in a hot oven (400 degrees F) until cheese is bubbly - about 7 or 8 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Cut into wedges and serve. Enjoy!!