One for the Money, Two for the Show

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. 

The first step in our appetizer dinner process was to roast the eggplants.

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…

We broiled the eggplants until they were good and blackened, about 15 or 20 minutes, and then set them on a wooden cutting board to cool.

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.

Once mixed together, chill and serve cold.

We served the eggplant salad with some grape tomatoes and baguettes.

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).

We served the fasole batuta over toasted baguettes brushed lightly with olive oil.

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. 🙂

Print this recipe: Romanian Eggplant Salad
Print this recipe: Fasole Batuta

30 thoughts on “One for the Money, Two for the Show

  1. Deborah says:

    Are the onion, carrot and parsely root just used to flavor the beans as they cook? Just curious! I love it when leftovers surprise me like that. Too bad they weren’t both great as leftovers, though!


  2. Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    I LOVE eggplant even though my tongue gets some kind of allergic reaction to it (so sad!). I still eat it because I just can’t avoid eggplant…I love so much. I actually like what Miss A was doing… kind of good stress relief. This is my kind of dish!


  3. Charles says:

    Thanks for the mention Kristy – I was just talking with my mother this evening about how much I adore eggplant… she’s an especially big fan, being a vegetarian – she says it has a nice, rich, meaty consistency.

    I’m always happy to see alternative serving ideas for them, and this one looks just fantastic. I must remember this!

    As for the other dish – I’m intrigued… what on earth is a parsley root? I must say I’ve never heard of this before, although now I looked it up it seems quite common in central and eastern European cuisine. Who’d ‘a’ thunk it? This also looks like a wonderful dish, and I love the presentation with the watermelon – so pretty!


  4. Sawsan@ Chef in disguise says:

    I was quite surprised when I read the bean dips name..Fasole is actually the arabic word for cannelini beans 🙂
    That eggplant salad is very simialr to a lebanese salad but the lebanese version adds chopped tomatoes, green pepper and mint.
    I love how enthusiastic Miss A is, she reminds me of my son (he’s 3) in the kitchen 🙂


  5. Courtney says:

    A family in agreement is awesome! That never happens around here either. I’m thinking the bean dip is more to my taste, but I love that the eggplant surprised you the next day!


  6. Profiteroles & Ponytails says:

    I feel like I’ve learned so much about preparing eggplant — I didn’t know about letting the eggplant rest to drain off the bitter juices or using a wooden spoon to mash the eggplant. Armed with all of this knowledge, I’m itching to practice my new skills. The egglplant salad sounds terrific!


  7. Karen says:

    It is interesting how the rating went. It might not be traditional but do you think that if the carrot, onion and parsnip were blended together that the bean dip would have had more flavor?


  8. Caroline says:

    Hooray for two recipes! Both sound delicious, and how convenient that just as I was scrolling through your photos/reading, my stomach started growling uncontrollably. Maybe I should eat a snack haha. Glad the eggplant dip was still good the next day. I’m sure it was tasty in the pita.


  9. Three Well Beings says:

    I think both recipes sound just wonderful, so I’m a bit surprised that the fasole batuta didn’t hold up well. I wonder if I’d agree 🙂 But I enjoyed seeing how you worked with the eggplant. I do love them, but I’m not always sure how to work with them as I should. Forking them…I didn’t know, but Miss A sure did! And letting them sit for awhile before moving forward with the steps…that was a good plan, too! They sound delicious! Debra


  10. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says:

    I’m with you on the seasonal dips and isn’t it cool how our bodies intuitively seek different foods when the temperatures begin to rise. I didn’t know that metal discolours eggplant and gives it a bitter taste; how interesting… I wonder if that’s what we’ve been doing wrong all these years as neither me nor my hubby tolerate eggplant very well (gives us a prickly sensation in our mouths). Thank you for the twofer intro to Romania!


  11. Eva Taylor says:

    How interesting that the bean dip wasn’t that good the next day, I wonder why. I have made eggplant before but I’ve never broiled it that way you did, it’s so easy. Thanks for the tip, Kristy.
    My Mother’s sister (both deceased) married a Romanian (actually, at the time Transylvania was part of Hungary). The guy was nuts, plain old crazy. And he was a surgeon, go figure.


  12. ceciliag says:

    Love the eggplant dish. i just set my egg plants on the gas ring and char them that way, it works like a charm and is kind of fun to watch.. playing with fire and all that!! c


  13. ChgoJohn says:

    I was excited by the eggplant dish. Glad it came through on Day Two. By its name, I knew you were cooking beans of some sort. The Italian word for beans, fagioli, is pretty similar to the Romanian, fasole. And my family’s section of Italy makes a sofrito-like preparation called batuto.I can’t wait for you to prepare a couple more dishes. I’ll use my new-found knowledge to impress my Romanian neighbors — or confound them with my rotten pronunciation. 🙂


  14. Dawn says:

    I’m glad it is warm where you are!! I am definitely looking forward to eating lighter… These dips look delicious, and I love how Miss A loves preparing eggplant!!


  15. hotlyspiced says:

    It must be lovely to have the warm weather now and the longer days – perfect for eating outdoors. Your appetisers look great. I love the sound of both of them. Perfect with some crusty bread xx


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