the perfect make-ahead summer dish – chickpeas with roasted eggplant, peppers + basil

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Stock up on eggplant, peppers, and fresh basil and make this staple salad all summer long. It will become a go-to for bringing to a picnic or BBQ – or simply keeping on hand in your fridge when hunger strikes. I love make ahead recipes that get better and better the longer they sit – and this chickpea dish fits the bill.

Eggplant can be tricky — a lot of people at cooking classes complain that when cooking at home, the texture can get soggy, mushy, and all around unenjoyable. I swear by salting the eggplant first – and this goes for any method of cooking it. You simply cut the eggplant how you plan to cook it, and generously add a heavy pinch of salt (I like using kosher for this). When you let it sit, a brownish liquid will release – this takes out some of the bitter flavor in the eggplant, and also results in a desirable texture — think chewy + meaty (in a good way).

I also like roasting peppers to bring out the sweetness and add a charred flavor. If this step is a deal breaker, go ahead and purchase jarred roasted peppers.

Ideally make this salad a few hours before serving – or even the day before. I like tossing with whole, fresh basil leafs right before to add a punch of green and a fresh, herby flavor.

Chickpea salad with eggplant + peppers

Ingredients:

1 medium/large eggplant (or 2 small)
2 red peppers
1-12 ounce box of cooked chickpeas, drained and dried
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground oregano
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup fresh basil

Procedure:

Half eggplant lengthwise, and then cut into half moods. Add to a colander and sprinkle with a generous pinch of kosher salt. Let sit for 20 minutes (can be more or less). A brownish liquid will release.

Preheat oven to 375.

Rinse eggplant and then arrange on a large parchment lined baking sheet. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and roast for 25 minutes. Remove and let cool.

While eggplant is salting, preheat broiler. Cut peppers in half and remove seeds. Place face down on baking sheet and add drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Broil for 8-10 minutes – until skin is black and papery. Remove, use tongs to flip upside down ,and let cool. When peppers are cool, remove skin and chop or tear into pieces.

Add chickpeas and peppers to a large bowl, and season with a bit of salt. Add eggplant. Add vinegar, oil, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste.

It’s ideal to let this marinate for 30 minutes – overnight. Before serving, toss with fresh basil.

blend up something new for lunch – like this refreshing green gazpacho

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Maybe its been the hot weather, or maybe its just being stuck in a summer daze… either way, I’ve been gravitating towards recipes that are simple, fast, and do not require heat. This green gazpacho most definitely fits the bill.

This savory soup is a great way to use up summer vegetables, and it’s delicious to boot. Simply toss the ingredients in your blender, give it a whirl, and lunch (or a light supper!) is served. The resulting soup is rich in flavor, verdant, and super satisfying.

I recommend using vegetables/herbs that have been chilled in your fridge so the soup is cool rather than warm or room temperature. And as I always like to chew my food, I add some chopped cucumber on top with a sprinkle of micro greens.

If you’re not serving the soup all at once, you can store in your fridge. Be forewarned it will thicken up a bit. I like to store individual portions in mason jars – add a little water, give it a shake, and you’re good to go.

Green Gazpacho

Ingredients:

3 cups chopped zucchini (about 2 medium)
2 cups chopped seedless cucumber (about 1 medium)
1/2 cup fresh basil
2 scallions, rough chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
for garnish (optional): chopped cucumber, zucchini, microgreens, pine nuts, fresh ground pepper, and/or olive oil

Procedure:

Place all ingredients (except optional garnish) in blender, and blend until very smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Pour into bowls, and garnish if desired. Enjoy!

Yield: 3-4 servings

add flavor to your meals — with this romesco sauce

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At it’s most basic, romesco sauce is a red pepper and nut based sauce that originates from Spain. Recipes vary quite a bit – with many containing tomatoes and/or bread crumbs – but I prefer keeping it simple. This sauce has been in my rotation for years. It’s particularly suited for white fish like halibut or cod, but is also wonderful on chicken, roasted cauliflower, and this chickpea skillet bread. Not enough options? Try as a dip for vegetables or a sandwich spread. It’s also a perfect compliment to grilled meats and vegetables. Trust me: keeping this stocked in your fridge is well worth it.

I like roasting the peppers myself, as it adds a sweet, smokey, charred flavor to the dip. If you are in a pinch, jarred roasted red peppers will work, though I find there isn’t as much depth. Smoked paprika is a staple in my kitchen – but if you don’t have, substitute a 1/4 teaspoon paprika and 1/4 teaspoon cumin- or omit all together.

Romesco Sauce

Ingredients:

2 red peppers, sliced lengthwise with seeds removed
1 clove garlic, peeled
½ cup fresh basil
¼ cup roasted, unsalted almonds
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional – more or less to taste)

Procedure:

Preheat broiler. Place peppers on a foil-lined sheet skin side up. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Place under broil and broil peppers until black and blistered – about 9-12 minutes. Carefully transfer peppers to a bowl and cover with a plate. Set aside.

Once peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off the black skin. Place the peeled peppers in a food processor along with all other ingredients. Pulse 10-12 times until mixed together. Sauce should be chunky and textured.