Last weekend was one of my favourites since moving out west because I got a call from my shipping company, telling me that my car had arrived and was ready to be picked up. While I was thrilled to have my Rav 4 back, what I was most excited about was the reunion with my Vitamix packed away in the trunk. We’d been apart for 2 and a half weeks, and that was about 2 weeks too long. I missed it SO much!
Shipping a bunch of my stuff in the back of my car (which was loaded onto a truck and driven from Mississauga to Calgary, then to Richmond BC where I picked it up) was a bit of a risky endeavour. Without explaining all the details, the company I shipped with was one of the few that would allow me to pack personal belongings in the trunk. Most don’t allow anything other than snow tires and baby seats, and I figured if money could be saved by packing things (up to 150lbs, all of which must fit under the cargo cover, as per the rules of the company) then I shouldn’t waste the opportunity.
So into the car went a bunch of my sports gear, some clothes, kitchen stuff, and yes – my Vitamix, spiralizer and food processor. I felt fine about this at the time because I already had three 50lb suitcases that needed to come with me on the plane, but after dropping my car off at a sketchy looking terminal in Mississauga, I couldn’t stop thinking about how someone could break in and steal my stuff at any point along the journey. The company insures the cars they ship, but not the belongings and knowing this made me worry even more.
When I got the call from the company saying my car was ready for pick-up, one of my awesome friends drove me to the terminal – again, another somewhat sketchy looking car lot in the middle of a large industrial space. A security guard gave me my keys, I opened the trunk, and to my enormous relief, everything was still there! Phew. Worry over.
That day I made not one, but TWO enormous smoothies in the Vitamix, a batch of hummus and peanut sauce in the food processor, and a huge salad with spiralized zucchini and beets for dinner. It was like a family reunion between a foodie and her kitchen gadgets.
While the blending, pureeing and spiralizing has been non-stop since the arrival of my three prized possessions, today’s recipe doesn’t require anything more than a knife, chopping board, and a baking sheet to roast a whole bunch of veggies on. Oh, and did I tell you guys that I don’t have full-sized appliances in my condo, and the first baking sheets I bought were too big for my oven? Well it happened, and I had to go back to Homesense and return them for smaller ones. Le sigh.
The whole ‘bowl’ thing has been a strong theme in my lunches and dinners lately, as you may have detected from previous recipes like The Down to Earth Bowl and The Sweet n Savoury Asian Tempeh Bowl. I’ve found that choosing a theme or type of cuisine each week is a helpful meal planning strategy because it helps to ensure your ingredients ‘go together’ in several different dishes, and that you don’t have as many random leftovers sitting in the fridge at the end of the week.
For example, for an Asian-inspired week, I’ll buy things like cabbage, carrots, peppers, broccoli, bok choy, avocado, ginger and garlic, all of which could be used in a bowl like the Sweet n Savoury Asian Tempeh one, as well as things like fresh spring rolls, stir fries, noodle bowls and salads.
I’m calling this week’s recipe The Middle Eastern Bowl, and I made it with the same sort of thinking. Not only could I combine the key ingredients – eggplant, tomatoes, herbs, lentils, and chickpeas – into this recipe, but I could also…
- Use leftover lentils in an omelette or in a pilaf
- Use leftover chickpeas in salads, or turn them into hummus
- Turn leftover parsley, lemon and chickpeas into tabbouleh salad
- Turn leftover eggplant into babaghanoush
- Take all the ingredients and throw them into a wrap or add them to salads
See where I’m going with this?
The Middle Eastern Bowl
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Ingredients (1 serving)
- 1 small Italian eggplant, sliced about 1 cm thick (about 1 cup of slices)
- 1/2 tsp each dried oregano and mint
- 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 handfuls of mixed greens
- ½ cup cooked lentils of choice (if you’re cooking them yourself, I recommend boiling in broth or stock for better flavour)
- ½ cup cooked chickpeas
- ¼ cup loosely packed parsley
- 1 tbsp pine nuts
- 1 tbsp lemon juice, plus wedges to garnish
For the dressing (makes about ½ cup – you will have some leftover):
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 2 tbsp water
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Switch the oven on to the high broil setting and give it a few minutes to heat.
- Meanwhile, arrange the eggplant slices and tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Mist them with olive oil and sprinkle with dried oregano and mint. Broil for about 8 minutes or until the flesh is light brown.
- Line a large bowl with the greens.
- Mix 2 tbsp of parsley into the lentils and the other 2 tbsp into the chickpeas. Squeeze 1 tbsp lemon juice in each and season to taste with black pepper and/or sea salt.
- When the eggplant and tomato have finished roasting, remove them from the oven. Arrange them on top of the greens along with the lentils and chickpeas. Scatter the pine nuts on top.
- Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing and serve on the side, along with lemon wedges to garnish if desired.
Now over to you! Tell me…
- Do you use themes or plan your meals around a particular cuisines each week?
- If you had to choose between Middle Eastern, Asian, Mexican or Indian food, what would you pick? I adore Asian food (specifically Thai), but my next choice would be Indian. Both make my heart sing!