As promised tonight’s introduction to Romanian cuisine is complete with a bonus recipe. Yep, this is a twofer. Now that summer is here we’re eating lighter and enjoying the outdoors quite a bit more. That means there’s less time to spend holed up in the kitchen. All that said, you’re probably wondering why then, we have two recipes. Well…they are both appetizers and absolutely easy.
Both Beth from Yes Folks, I Run Like a Girl and Kate from Minestrone Soup both suggested eggplant and eggplant salads as part of our tour of Romania. So our first recipe is just that – a Romanian Eggplant Salad. While searching for eggplant recipes we also came across a recipe for Fasole Batuta, or a Romanian Bean Dip. The bean dip recipe is adapted from Lake Magazine which also had this little tidbit of information: It is estimated that there are more than one million Romanians living in America, and of this group 17 percent live in Illinois and Michigan. In metro Chicago alone there are about 100,000 Romanians. I had no idea! That was kind of a fun little fact to learn about our area.
We’re no strangers to that since we make Charles’ Baba Ghanoush regularly. In fact, as I put the eggplant in the cart at the grocery store, Miss A said, “Yay! Do I get to fork it?” Yes, Miss A you do…
After about 10 minutes, we began to peel away the skins. Now according to several recipes, this next step is one of two critical steps in the eggplant salad process – letting the eggplant sit on the wooden cutting board to drain for at least 30 minutes. The juices that run out are bitter and will leave the eggplant used in the salad a bit sweeter.
Then after the eggplant has drained, it’s time for the second important step – mashing the eggplant with a wooden spoon. You want to avoid using metal as it will discolor the eggplant and give it a bitter taste.
Then finally it’s time to add the rest of the ingredients to a bowl with the eggplant: a finely chopped onion (we used the food processor to really grind it down), olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt.
Now before we get to our spoon ratings, we promised one more recipe. This one is also easy. We started with a half pound of cannellini beans which we soaked over night and drained, a carrot, parsley root and an onion.
We chopped the carrot, parsley root and onion into large chunks and tossed them into a large stock pot with the beans. Next we poured enough water in to cover the veggies, brought it to a boil and then let it simmer for just about two hours.
Once the beans were soft, we drained them into a colander and removed the carrots, parsley root and onion pieces. Then we tossed in some olive oil and garlic and used the immersion blender to mash it all up.
We scooped the beans out into a serving dish and topped them with caramelized onions (which I didn’t burn this time).
Then we sat down to our light dinner of appetizers. Now outside of all of us ringing in with 4 spoon votes occasionally, I don’t know that we’ve ever turned in a unanimous vote. Well, with this meal we did.
We all agreed that the eggplant salad was a 2 spoon dish and the fasole batuta 3 spoons. So initially we thought both dishes were good (the eggplant dish being fine), but expected we would only really think to make the bean dip again.
However, when we went to have lunch the next day, it was quite the opposite scenario. The bean dip wasn’t as good as leftovers, but the eggplant salad was delicious inside a pita pocket with some tomatoes. It’s always fun when a recipe surprises us like that. Ultimately the leftover bean dip ended up chucked and the eggplant salad was eaten to the last drop. So both dishes may just be 3 spoon worthy after all.
So now that we’ve introduced you to Romanian cuisine, we’re going to keep you in suspense as to what else Romania has in store, for the next few posts anyway. You see, we have a few special recipes to share with you per Mr. N’s request. After all, it’s his week.