Archives for posts with tag: olive oil

My sister and I have these lists called “life lists.”  Nine out of ten times they relate to food.  We came up with this somewhat childish classification system on a long road trip with my husband and his friend.  We were absolutely bored out of our minds and decided to ask each other what were each of our “life foods,” in other, less eccentric terms, which foods can you see yourself loving for life?  Essentially, we broke down our “life foods” by categories such as regional cuisines to something as odd as, “what are your life chips?”  I know, you must be thinking that we are a little off in the mind, but little quirks like this make us who we are.  I’m sure every group of close friends and family have their own innuendos that no one else would understand.

Back to the “life foods,”  I named Mediterranean cuisine as a regional “life cuisine.”  I love the freshness and the lightness associated with it.  It’s such a vibrant area that yields amazing cuisine in my opinion.  Though the term, Mediterranean is a little vague, I love it all, whether it is Southern European, Greek, North African, Turkish, Lebanese, and so on.  I would consider this dip truly Mediterranean, because I’m sure you can find it in one form or another all over the Mediterranean.  It’s a fresh, light, and a delicious dip.  It’s simple, yet packs a lot of intensity.

Eggplant and Pepper Dip

Makes about 2 cups of dip

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

Ingredients

i medium sized eggplant

1 large red bell pepper

6 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 jalapeno chili, roughly chopped (remove the seeds if you like)

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 /2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon crushed red chilies, or to taste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

6 tablespoons olive oil

10 sprigs on chives, roughly chopped

handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

4 mint leaves, roughly chopped

crumbled feta cheese, for garnish, optional

extra parsley and chives for garnish, optional

pita wedges for serving

Method

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Poke the eggplant and red pepper  with a knife so that you create some holes in the flesh.  Cover both with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.  Place on a baking tray with 4 whole garlic cloves and bake for about 30-45 minutes, or until the flesh is soft and cooked through.  Allow to cool slightly and remove the skins off the eggplant and the pepper.  Place the cooked eggplant, pepper, and roasted garlic cloves in a food processor with the salt, pepper, cumin, crushed red chillies, lemon juice,  jalapeno, 2 raw garlic cloves, chives, mint, parsley, and olive oil.  Pulse until the consistency is almost smooth, let there still be some texture.  Chill in the refrigerator and garnish with feta cheese, fresh herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Serve with pita wedges.

Advertisements

Shrimp scampi is something I can say I have mastered.  Well, for one it’s not something that requires anything special to master and secondly, everyone loves it.  I always have people asking me how I make it, and I sometimes feel embarrassed to say anyone can make this.  It’s so easy but gives the impression that you have actually put a good amount of effort into it.  When I lived with my parents, we would often make this for guests and they loved it.  I think it’s in the sauce; because of its richness.  You don’t even need the linguine I added to it.  The linguine is just an after thought.  Just serve it with some nice crusty warm bread for soaking up the sauce and you’ll be all set!

This dish also offers a lot of freshness.  I adore fresh herbs and always have my fridge stocked.  They just perk up any dish.  If I have people over I simply cannot not garnish my food with piles of herbs.  Even just cooking at home, I will not make something if I don’t have the herbs for it.  It’s just not the same.  I can say that I will judge you if you don’t use fresh herbs *snicker.*  Teasing aside, I think I have made my passion for herbs quite apparent.  Another freshness component to this dish is the lemon.  I use just half of a lemon for it’s juice and half for the zest and the zested half for a nice lemon slice garnish inspired by Ina Garten.  I always use caution when adding lemon juice or zest to something.  To me sometimes recipes call for too much and then all you taste is lemon.  I think I have mentioned it before, but too much lemon reminds me of Pinesol.

I add shallots and tomatoes as well to break away from the norm.  I like the roundness they give to the scampi.  As with most dishes, I add extra spice to mine but use as much as you like.

Shrimp Scampi

adapted from Ina Garten’s Linguine with Shrimp Scampi from Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp (I remove the tails as well)

6-7 cloves garlic, minced

2 shallots minced

1 tomato, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil (plus a little extra for drizzling at the end)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 lemon (half for juice, half zested, and the zested half cut into rounds)

2-3 tablespoons of light cream

3/4 of a teaspoon crushed red chili flakes

1 teaspooon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, optional

2 tablespoons chopped chives (use more or less)

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (use more or less)

parmigiano reggiano shavings, optional

1/2 box of linguine (I used whole wheat because that’s what I had on hand)

Method

Cook the linguine in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente, about 10 minutes (do not drain it from the water).  Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan on medium heat.  Add the olive oil and turn down the heat to medium low.  Put the butter in the pan and after 1 minute add 1/2 teaspoon of the red chili flakes and allow it to infuse the oil for about 30 seconds.  Add the shallots and allow them to sweat for about 2-3 minutes.  Next add the garlic, cook for 2 minutes, make sure it doesn’t burn.  At this point put it the chopped tomato.  Let it sweat for 1-2 minutes.  Turn up the heat to medium.  When the pan is ready add the shrimp and salt/black pepper and allow the shrimp to turn pink.  This will take about 5-7 minutes.  Do not overcook because they will get stringy.  Turn the heat to the lowest setting and add the juice of half a lemon.  Next, stir in the cream.  Add the pasta directly from the pasta water to the shrimp pan using tongs, so that a little of the starchy water goes into the scampi.  Top with the chives, parsley, lemon zest, lemon slices, 1/4 teaspoon of red chili flakes, pamigiano reggiano, and toss.   Drizzle the top with olive oil.