Saturday, April 20, 2019

Tamarind Eggplant with Bell Peppers & Mango

It took me a long time to appreciate eggplant, and in the past if I saw an eggplant recipe in one of my cookbooks I would quickly turn the page. For one thing, I didn’t really know what to do with it, since most recipes seem to encourage cooking it in copious amounts of olive oil, or smothering it with pounds of cheese. 

But through the years my food curiosity, combined with a few very satisfying experiences worked to change my mind about this humble vegetable, and now I seek eggplant recipes out. It really helps when you come across a recipe like the “Tamarind Eggplant with Bell Peppers & Mango”, page 328. 

The bold flavors of tamarind, chile, mango, and cilantro liven up this dish, and the finished “stew” is delicious served over grains or noodles. I went with brown rice udon noodles, giving the presentation an Asian persuasion.

This is a one-skillet stove top dish that comes together very easy. Onion, eggplant, and peppers are cooked in until soft (no oil necessary, even though the recipe calls for 2 Tablespoons -  just a little broth or sherry will do the trick). A little more cooking after adding tamarind paste, fresh orange juice, and mango, and that’s about it! I liked the bright and vibrant colors, the fresh flavors, the creamy texture of the eggplant combined with the crunchier texture of the bell peppers. If you’re not sure you like eggplant, this recipe would be a good one to experiment with.

The recipe calls for three small Asian eggplants, but I couldn’t find any that day, so I used one medium size regular eggplant. I also didn’t have access to tamarind paste, so I used the substitution suggestion in the recipe notes, a combination of lime juice and brown sugar.  

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • Instead of using oil to sauté the vegetables, use a nonstick skillet with a small amount of water, broth, or sherry.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Basic Vegetable Fritters

The recipe for “Basic Vegetable Fritters”, page 353, is a very flexible set of instructions, allowing you to choose from an assortment of vegetables, spices of your choice, flour or breadcrumbs, and  varying amounts of nondairy milk to create something different each time you make them. Be sure to read Robin’s half page description, “All About Fritters”, also on page 353, for a primer on these versatile fried cakes. Just about anything goes, and you might be inspired by what you have in your refrigerator and pantry. I decided to use a combination of mashed sweet potatoes, grated zucchini, and green onions, with flour as the binder, and just salt and pepper to season. The recipe notes indicate the texture of the mixture, prior to cooking, should be like a thick pancake batter, and that is what I ended up with. No surprise, then, that the finished product ended up looking like a pancake as well.

You can choose to eat the fritters hot off the griddle, chilled as a snack, filled with something and rolled up (if they are thin enough), or topped with gravy or some other tasty sauce. I opted to top them with Spicy Mango & Red Pepper Salsa (see my previous review).

The only change I made to the recipe ingredients was to use whole wheat pastry flour in place of the all-purpose (white) flour. I think any flour of your choice would work in this recipe. Also, instead of frying the fritters in oil, use a good non-stick skillet. 

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:

  • Use any whole grain recipe in place of the all-purpose (white) flour.
  • Instead of using oil to fry the fritters, use a non-stick skillet, which requires no oil at all.

Spicy Mango & Red Pepper Salsa

I am a big fan of mango salsas and chutneys. A perfectly ripe sweet mango pairs so beautifully with hot chilis and spices, and the “Spicy Mango & Red Pepper Salsa”, page 567, is a perfect example of this pleasing combination. This recipe is vibrantly colored, bursting with flavor, and made from all fresh ingredients. I left out the oil completely, seeing no need add anything in its place. I also skipped the salt, and didn’t miss it at all. This dish is super easy – mix together mango, red onion, red bell pepper, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime juice. Use this anywhere you like salsa, such as a dip for chips, a topping for beans, veggie burgers, or tofu cutlets. You just can’t go wrong! I used it as a delicious topping for Basic Vegetable Fritters (see my next review).

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • Omit the oil, no substitutions necessary