All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015
To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.
31 years ago today – I moved to Los Angeles intending to establish residency & go to a state school (UCLA) for film – hoping to one day direct. I was 19 & did not know anyone else in LA – and – I had never driven a car (and lived here for 2 1/2 years without car or even a driver’s license) and lived for the first week in a creepy, rent-by-the-week motel on Whitley just north of Hollywood Blvd – until I found an apartment at Sunset & Normandie – where I lived for the next 4+ years. 19 and alone – very far from anything familiar and, apparently iron-clad balls because I can’t imagine being that brave now. And to be honest – I cried almost every day for the first year & had to deflect my mother’s repeated offers to fly out here, pack me up & move me back home. Honest to God – I have no fucking idea what I was thinking or how my mother let me go in the first place. I look at my friends’ kids who are at or near that age & cannot imagine sending them off to a seedy big city (which Hollywood really was in 1984) – 3000 miles away. I am very, very proud of my 19-year-old self & what that kid pulled off – through sheer willpower. I wish I had the nerve & gumption now that I had then. I am very grateful to live in LA. It is a great town – despite what the haters will tell you. So, anyway – happy anniversary to me & my youthful courage.
Below are some images of me from that general era. Notice the shaved sides in the top picture that I tried to mask with bangs in my first ever headshot – just below it. Little did I know that the edgier me was going to be the key to my ever working as an actress. Conformity – or my attempts at it – fooled nobody.
So – onto this gorgeous recipe! I saw it on The Iron You (seen in their photo above) and could not resist the chance to photograph something so gorgeous. I made a few minor tweaks – in the interest of it being vegan & a little less caloric – but it is really their recipe – and is is CRAZY delicious! As The Iron You states – “The end result is an addictive, creamy, smoky, tart, sweet, salty, and aromatic dip/spread/salad. It can stand on its own as a dip or condiment or as a side to meat or fish or it can be served as a refreshing Middle Eastern inspired salad.”
Funny that I often co-opt Iron You recipes because their primary focus is a Paleo diet which – in reality – is almost the opposite of my focus – a vegan diet. But they use lots of veggies & their photographs (like that one just above) are so inspiring – I am a big fan!
This is easy & requires no special tools. I used a food processor but out of laziness – not need. Chopping the mushy eggplant would be almost as easy by hand. It is basically a fancified hummus – but using eggplant rather than chick peas. I think it is virtually guiltless – as far as calories & it really does have a complexity of flavors that is delightful! And just LOOK at it! Can you imagine a pretty holiday appetizer?
Burnt Eggplant with Pomegranate Seeds & Cucumber – or Really Fancy Baba Ganoush
Serves several as an appetizer served with pita wedges
1 large eggplant
1/3 cup tahini
1 TBS plus 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp agave nectar
1 garlic clove – minced
3 TBS chopped parsley
1/2 large pomegranate
1/2 cucumber – peeled, seeded & diced
More parsley & maybe olive oil for garnish
Roast the eggplant by placing it directly on a burner over a high flame. You might want to protect your stove with foil – but I didn’t. Turn frequently – and don’t walk away from it – lest it catch fire. This should take 10-15 minutes & the skin should be charred almost all the way off & the flesh of the eggplant should be soft. Allow to cool & then rub off the burned skin & stem top under cold, running water. Allow to drain in a colander for 30 minutes.
Get the seeds out of half the pomegranate. HERE are some tutorials showing how to do that.
If you do not have a food processor – chop the eggplant as finely as possible.
If you do have a food processor – pulse the eggplant a few times.
In either scenario – then mix/pulse in the tahini, lemon, agave, garlic & parsley. Then fold in the cucumber & 3/4 of the pomegranate seeds. Season with S&P. Salt adds depth to this so definitely use some.
Garnish with the remaining pomegranate seeds, some chopped parsley & some sesame seeds. Traditionally – olive oil is drizzled on top but I see no need to add those calories. Knock yourself out if calories are of no concern to you.