Today I was picking up the girls from the school and the teacher told me Kishmish would probably be hungry because she had to take her nuts away from her at lunch time. “There are some kids in the class this year who are allergic to nuts — I mean really allergic. Like they can’t even be near a nut. I had learn how to use an Epi-Pen today!” (In case you are wondering, it’s this.)
Grrrr….. I am totally fine with eliminating nuts from the lunch-box rotation, but things are getting really challenging around here. As of now, I try to send lunch within the following specifications:
- “I don’t like peanut butter and jelly!” (Well, I guess that’s out now anyway.)
- “I don’t like sandwiches every day!”
- “Why can’t we eat chicken nuggets?” (We really don’t eat chicken.)
- “Please send me soup/macaroni/dal but only if it can be really hot at lunch time!” (OK, I have yet to find a thermos set-up that makes that possible.)
- “Don’t send me idlis/rotis/dal parathas because people will laugh at my lunch!”
This last one drives me bananas. The girls go to a school with all these international kids, comopolitan New Yorkers, and children of diplomats. I cannot believe everyone is bringing tuna-fish sandwiches on white bread. What happened to being cool for having something different!?
Seriously, I am running out of options.
Anyway, I saw this recipe on the Andrew Weil website (which I always think is called “Spontaneous Healing!” with an exclamation point and all, but is actually called something else), and I thought it might be a good lunch-box option. The way I made it, there was way too much garlic, though. In fact, the original recipe called for more eggplant and less garlic, so it’s no wonder the girls found it a little. . . pungent. Now I can see that it’s never going to make it into anyone’s lunch-box, owing to the ground walnuts. Sigh.
Ankur and I liked it, though, and since you have to make it ahead and let it set, it works as a do-ahead side dish that tastes nice with parathas and a vegetable, or with rice, or on toast. Plus, it provides you a chance to do this to an eggplant, more dramatic and flavorful than just baking in the oven, as the original recipe recommended. And then the spontaneous healing begins! (Sorry – just kidding.)
Adapted from this recipe at DrWeil.com.
- 1 medium, fresh eggplant (no bruises, etc.)
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- about 1 inch of ginger root, chopped fineliy
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1/8 teaspoon allspice (I didn’t have this and didn’t use it. The spread was fine.)
- salt and pepper
Pierce the skin of the eggplant, and roast over a gas flame, 10-20 minutes, depending on size. Turn the eggplant as it cooks, so that it doesn’t burn too much on one side, and so that it cooks thoroughly. You will know it’s done when a knife easily goes right through the eggplant at its widest part. And when it looks thoroughly dejected. Not that I recommend personifying vegetables.
Put the walnuts, olive oil, ginger, and garlic into a food processor or blender, and make a smooth paste. (I used a blender, and therefore had to add a little water. I suspect a food processor would work much better.)
Once the eggplant is cool, remove all the skin from the fleshy part. Add the eggplant to the blender/food processor, and process until smooth.
Add salt and pepper to taste. The recipe calls for hot pepper sauce, which I didn’t use because I was hoping my little kids would eat this. Next time, I’ll add more hot pepper, though.
Refrigerate tightly covered. The spread keeps well, for at least a few days. (This is especially true if you use as much garlic as I did!)