Pasta with Eggplant and Tomato…

Eggplant has got to be one of my favourite vegetables. You can do so much with it.

This particular recipe is actually a Lebanese meza dish that I’ve made into a pasta sauce.

The original recipe is cooked and then eaten cold as part of spread of dishes called a meza. Lots of plates with lots of tasty food spread out on a table and shared between family and friends. Its a very social way of eating.Image

And this is a very simple recipe….

To a large fry pan add 2 tbls olive oil and sauté 1/2 an onion that you’ve finely sliced. Once the onion has softened and started to brown a little add some eggplant (one medium sized or two small) that you’ve chopped into large pieces. Let them cook for a few minutes, stirring often so they don’t stick to the fry pan then throw in two diced large tomatoes, 2-3 chopped cloves of garlic and if you like it spicy, a couple of finely sliced chillies.

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Season with salt and pepper, add a couple of tablespoons of water, stir well, cover and let simmer gently for about 20-25 minutes or until the eggplant is cooked.

I like to add a few kalamata olives and a bit of fresh basil in at the end.

Boil up your favourite pasta, stir it through the sauce and serve.

So simple, so delicious.

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Enjoy…

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Mjadra (Lentil and Rice Pilaf)

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Yet another Lebanese Lentil dish. I did say we love lentils in this house.

I cooked a corn beef on Monday night, then made fritters out of left overs yesterday and then corn beef and mustard pickle sandwiches for lunch today. We are all corn beefed out. A quick SMS to my husband and tonight’s dinner is decided.

Healthy, vegan and delicious – Mjadra….

Here’s what you’ll need :-

1/2 cup green lentils

1 cup brown rice

1 1/2 large brown onions

2tbs olive oil

salt and pepper

2 1/2 cups water

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Rinse the lentils then put in a medium saucepan. Pour over  cups cold water, cover and bring to the boil. Once boiling turn heat down to medium low and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile chop 3/4 of a large onion into large dice and gently fry in 2 tbs olive oil until soft and just starting to brown on the edges then throw them, along with the oil, in with the lentils.

After the lentils have had their 10 minutes, stir in the rice, season with plenty of salt and pepper,  cover and bring back to the boil, then turn the heat down to low and leave to cook for 45 – 50 minutes or until the rice is cooked. (You can add a little more water if you think it needs it.)

When it’s done, turn the heat off and leave it covered while you thinly slice the rest of the onion and brown in 1 tbs olive oil with a sprinkle of salt. This is then served on top of the Pilaf.

We like this dish with a fresh tomato, onion and parsley salad and a spoonful of Greek yogurt.

Yum…

Enjoy…

Monks’ Soup – Lentil Soup with burghul dumplings. (Kibbet Rahib)

monk soup 5Meat overload yesterday.

Two birthdays were celebrated at my mum’s. Two very happy nieces.

As per our tradition, whoever is having a birthday gets to 1. Select the lunch menu,  and  2. Select their birthday cake.

My Saturday night was spent baking and decorating two very different cakes.I had a ball.

ImageImage                                                                                 For lunch, one niece chose barbecued chicken skewers and lamb chops while the other chose salmon sushi. (How’s that for variety?)

We had perfect cool but sunny weather, and very full bellies. However, there is always room for cake. Let me tell you now, my family is absolutely insane and we have the time of our lives when we get together.

So….after all that meat and rice and cake and sugar and coffee and conversation and laughter…it’s time for lentils and soup…

This one is traditionally eaten by Lebanese Christians during lent. It contains no meat or dairy. Our family eats it on the first day of lent while others will have it on Good Friday. I remember being in the kitchen helping my mum by stirring the big pot of soup while she put the little dumplings in.

As usual I’ve got to say, this recipe is very easy and delicious.

Make the dumplings by soaking 1/2 cup fine burghul (that’s been rinsed) in 3/4 cup cold water for about 30 minutes. The burghul will soak up all the water.

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Grate 1/2 a large onion (you’ll need the other half for the soup) and add it to the burghul with 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground pepper and 3/4 cup plain wholemeal flour. You can also add a little finely chopped mint leaves to the mix (I actually remembered the mint too late! Oh well, for this particular batch I’ll be adding it to the soup at the end. It’s all good.)  Mix it all very well with your hands until you get a dough-like consistency. Keeping hands slightly wet, roll teaspoons of mix into little dumplings.Image Set aside while you start preparing the soup.

Rinse 1/2 cup brown lentils and put them in a large saucepan.Pour in 5 cups of cold water, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are almost tender. In the meantime, dice the other half of your onion and cook in 2 tbs olive oil until starting to brown on the edges.

Once lentils are almost ready, pour in the cooked onion along with the oil. Now, gently lower the dumplings into the soup.Image Carefully stir them around, cover the pot and allow to very gently simmer for about 10 minutes while you crush 3-4 cloves garlic in a mortar and pestle with 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, the juice of half a lemon and 1/2 tsp dried mint leavesImage (this is extra mint, not the lot I forgot to add to the dumplings….).

After the 10 minutes, add the garlic and mint mix to the soup, stir, cover and leave to simmer for another 15 minutes.

We serve this with lots of toasted Lebanese Bread.

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Perfect.

Enjoy…

Addis bi haamoud – Spinach and Lentil Soup with lemon

Potato and lentil soup‘What could Lona possibly be making for dinner tonight?’, I hear you say.  Well, I’ve never really been one for left- overs. I like to have something different every night.

Don’t worry though. Left overs are used for lunches the next day. As for the corned beef, it was placed  between two slices of multi-grain bread, smeared with mustard pickles and eaten by my husband at work this very day. I just munched on a slice that I topped with some of the bearnaise. Nice.

However, today feels like a healthy soup day. Again. I love soup!!

I went for a walk and picked up some silver beet. How about a lentil and silver beet soup. Hooray, I hear you all yell.

here we go then – keep up – in a large pot, throw in 1/2 cup of brown lentils that you’ve rinsed, 3/4 fill the pot with water, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down. Cover and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.

Add 1 bunch of silver beet (leaves and a little of the stalk), finely sliced and rinsed, 1 large onion – cut in half and thinly sliced, 2 cups of diced potato, as many garlic cloves as you can handle, ( I usually put in about 7 or 8 large ones), chopped. Stir it well, cover, increase heat to bring it back up to the boil, then lower heat and let it simmer away for another 45 minutes or so until the potato and lentils are cooked.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon.

This I usually serve with some toasted Lebanese bread.

one of my favourite all time soups.

This will serve four people.

Enjoy.