Category Archives: vegetarian

Roasted eggplant and garlic dip

 

Roasted eggplant and garlic dip on French bread slices

 

Vegetables. There’s something so terrible about them when you’re young, and something fearfully boring about them when you’re older. But add the word “roasted” to any veggie, or to any food at all really, and your brain just perks up immediately. Roasted vegetables have a rustic sophistication that conjures thoughts of that warm smoky aroma with the velvety lusciousness and richness of the texture that sets them completely apart from their un-roasted counterparts. If I could eat all of my vegetables roasted, aside from perhaps leafy greens and cucumbers for a salad, I think life would be just wonderful. Let’s not gloss over the fact that roasting vegetables could be one of the easiest, healthiest, and most bang-for-your-buck ways of preparing vegetables. Add the phrase “roasted [vegetable of choice]” to any dinner menu and it instantly kicks up the classiness of the dish by a factor of 3, which suddenly makes roasted vegetables any dinner host or hostess’ new best friend.

My friend was having a birthday potluck a couple months ago, and I was thinking about what I could bring that would be quick and easy to put together for a group of 20 people yet still be unique and delicious. I had just read about an appetizer on Serious Eats (one of those websites that I must visit at least once a day to feel complete), which was called “eggplant caviar“. It intrigued me, and sounded so simple. “Caviar”, I thought, “now that sounds classy!” But… how exactly does one get eggplant to taste like caviar? I mean one is a mild flavored vegetable that is soft when cooked right, and one is… small flecks of saltiness. I read the recipe, and decided that it really didn’t sound like it would be in any way similar to caviar, but it did give me the idea to make a dip based on roasted eggplant. I could envision the seasoned smooth pulp of a roasted eggplant being just the right consistency for spreading on crackers and slices of French bread. But how to make it more indulgent? Well, with garlic of course. And since I have been singing the praises of roasted vegetables, it shouldn’t surprise you that I decided to pair the roasted eggplant with roasted garlic, oh the roasted garlic that makes me weak in the knees! The best part? The recipe is still easy as pie. No, easier than pie by a lot, and I will show you how to roast a head of garlic anytime, with no effort at all. Wait no, maybe the best part is that it’s dip made from roasted vegetables and so isn’t bad for you. Or maybe the best part is that the ingredients cost all of $3 to feed 20 people. Or that when you run of out bread and crackers to spread it on, you can just eat it straight up. Or, or, or…oh hell, just try it :)

 

Roasted eggplant and garlic dip with French bread

 



Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Dip (serves 20)

Recipe adapted from Serious Eats

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium globe eggplants (approx 2 lbs total)
  • 2 large heads of garlic, roasted (see below for how to roast garlic)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • red pepper flakes

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the eggplants in half length-wise and rub the flesh with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

2. Place the eggplant halves with the cut side down in a large baking pan, and bake, together with the garlic (see below for preparation) for approx 45 minutes until the flesh is very soft. A knife should slip easily into the tough stem of the eggplant when they are ready.

 

Eggplant after roasting

 

3. Remove from oven and allow to cool until it can be handled. Spoon out the flesh from the eggplant halves, and place in a large bowl. Using a fork, stir and mash the eggplant flesh until it is a smooth puree.

4. Mash the roasted garlic on the side, and combine with mashed eggplant.

 

Mashed roasted garlic

 

5. Stir in 2 tbsp of olive oil, and season as desired with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. For a richer taste and texture, you can add more olive oil as needed.

 

Roasted eggplant and garlic dip

 

6. Garnish with basil and serve with freshly sliced French bread or crackers. Can be enjoyed warm, at room temperature, or chilled.



How to Roast a Head of Garlic

What you need:

  • 1 large head of regular garlic (not the elephant kind)
  • olive oil
  • aluminum foil
  • Optional: muffin pan, if roasting multiple heads of garlic

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel away most of the dry layers from the outside of the head of garlic.

2. Chop off the top of the garlic, such that you expose the flesh of the cloves. You may miss some of the shorter cloves, so you can break their tops open with your fingers.

3. Wrap garlic with aluminum foil, leaving the ends to meet at the top. Drizzle the top of the garlic generously with olive oil (approx 1 1/2 tbsp per head of garlic).

 

Garlic prepped for roasting

 

4. Seal the aluminum foil at the top and place in a slot of a muffin pan if using one. Otherwise, just place the wrapped garlic with the opening facing up (of course) into the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. The garlic will look nicely caramelized and smell amazing.

 

Roasted head of garlic

 

5. Remove and cool slightly before peeling at the garlic and using a small fork to pick out the garlic cloves. The cloves should be soft and have a nice golden-brown color on the outside. You can mash them or use them whole in cooking as desired. So easy!

 

Roasted cloves of garlic

 


Monday, May 7th

1:00PM Goosebeary's Food Truck
Cambodian seafood, again. This stuff is good! I got one for my boyfriend also to convince him that it's good, but he thought it wasn't salty enough for his taste. He liked the fried fish in it though, which is actually my least favorite part of it lol. He also picked up some random mini-danishes from his lab and shared them with me. There were three different fillings: almond, banana, and chocolate. Not sure which one I liked best, it would probably be a tossup between almond and chocolate.

6:15PM MIT Faculty Club – Biology Senior Dinner
Glass of white wine (Chardonnay) while chatting with friends and professors.

Dinner started at 6:30pm, and it was a buffet style serving (this dinner was not as fancy as the one I had at this place last week with my boyfriend's class). Here is my plate of food, including some Caesar salad, a roll, some green beans, a few mushroom stuffed ravioli with mushroom cream sauce (the striped things), and a small piece of grilled chicken teriyaki. By far my favorite entree item was the ravioli, which were flavorful and moist, without being weighed down by lots of cream sauce or too much ravioli dough. The chicken was far too dry. The rest of the sides were okay, though the roll was a bit too dense.

Afterwards we enjoyed dessert and coffee while an acapella group performed for us. I had half a cup of coffee mixed with half a cup of milk and 2 Splendas (I really don't like coffee, so I dilute it a lot to make it bearable haha), and a slice of lemon custard tart. The tart was okay, but I think they overdid the lemon custard, which came off too sour at first but then too sweet at the end of a bite, which also effectively made my coffee taste bitter the whole time haha.

Not terribly satisfied with our desserts, my friends and I decided to share another dessert  (we were getting really full now but still wanted to taste the other offerings). We ended up trying the "Carribean mango colada cake", which was actually really good! At first I thought it was baked alaska, because the top was a creamy merigue and the middle was a cold layer that I thought was ice cream. Turns out it was just still half frozen haha. The bottom of the cake was a soft sponge, and the middle was a layer of mango mousse that was infused with pineapple flavor, then topped with a light meringue flavored with coconut, then a thin layer of some sort of tropical fruit glaze. It was pretty refreshing for a dessert, and if it wasn't for the fact that we were all getting really full I'm sure we would have eaten more of it. Sorry the picture looks a bit gross, the cake was falling apart because we cut it funny. Just trust me that it was yummy :)

After the dinner me friends and I took home the flower centerpiece from the tables, because everyone else was doing it and they were awfully pretty! I had a bit of trouble trying to carry mine home but it sure is a nice addition to the room. Mmm I love pretty flowers.


Monday, March 12th

9:30AM Dorm Room, Getting Ready to go to Lab
1 strawberry flavor Special K bar (90 calories), and 6 oz. of skim milk (60 calories). In a rush to dry my hair and leave for work haha I'm always late. The milk was kind of unpleasant though, I left it in an open cup in my fridge yesterday and it absorbed some pretty funky fridge smells. I had to just try my best not to smell it while drinking it. I'm sure it was still fine to drink, but next time I'll know better when I put it in my fridge.

12:30PM Kitchen Lounge at Lab
Rest of the leftover mushroom ravioli (5 ravioli + 3 oz. grilled chicken breast, 560 calories). Doesn't taste as fresh the second time around, especially since it was microwaved, but still a tasty lunch that saves me money and effort instead of getting it from elsewhere. It made me pretty sleepy when I went to my class afterwards though, I'm not sure whether it's the food or the fact that I slept 4 hours last night.

7:00PM Baker Dorm Dining
1/2 beer braised pork chop (4 oz, 175 calories) with 1/2 cup broccoli (25 calories) and 1/2 cup corn (85 calories). I'm going to try the splitting dinner into 2 parts thing, so this is half of my entree. I've never tried beer braised pork chops before, but these taste okay. I wasn't too interested in the other dining options tonight, including fried cheese ravioli and ground chuck burger. But I did notice that they still were serving a couple of the leftover featured desserts from last night, and I went ahead and bought one of the chocolate mousses. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to eat it tonight or save it for another day so I don't ruin today's count. Either way, I have it so I won't have to be sad that I missed the special desserts :)

10:00PM Dorm Room
Rest of the pork chops and veggies (285 calories). So I'm not sure where I stand with this split dinner thing. On the one hand, I feel decently satiated right now, and it's later in the evening, so that's a good thing. But earlier when I had just eaten the first half, I felt kind of robbed, because I didn't feel full and satisfied like I normally do. Admittedly, it's less than 300 calories at a sitting, so maybe my stomach is smart enough to tell the difference. Still, it was a little frustrating to have this funny gut feeling that you're going to get hungry later and you should eat more! I'll give this another go tomorrow probably, but I might end up tossing out the idea and just continue to sub in a healthy snack later on. It's also a little bit boring to eat the same exact thing twice within a time span of a few hours haha.

12:00AM Dorm Room
1/4 of chocoate mousse torte (~100 calories). Haha I couldn't resist trying a portion of the dessert because I didn't want to miss out on it when its still fresh. Mmm so yummy and look how pretty it is! I looked up the nutrition for it online, but it was hard to find because it's a catered type dessert. My best guess is that it falls between 200-500 calories, so that's why I only ate 1/4 to make sure I didn't accidentally overindulge. 1/4 is a really small piece, maybe like three quarters of a cubic inch… but it was decadent nonetheless. The outside is covered with a layer of dense chocolate mousse, which means that the cocoa content in the chocolate is high. The inside is a torte styled layering of syrup soaked cake and chocolate mousse. Think tiramisu, except exchange the marscapone with the mousse. And thank god for this blog, or else I probably would have eaten the whole thing without giving it a second thought. Now that I've split it up into 4 pieces, I'll have three more times when I can eat it haha.

Total comes to about 1400 calories today. I went to a fitness calculator to figure out how many calories I should eat to maintain weight, and it said about 1780 calories a day if I don't actively exercise. So hopefully my current undercutting of the daily caloric intake should be good for me. It said that women should never go below 1200 calories a day, which I've been surpassing every day, so that's not a problem. Okay that's all, until tomorrow folks!


Saturday, March 10th

3:15PM Dorm Room, Watching Daybreak
~ 30 mini chinese dumplings (450 calories). I love these cute little dumplings, I always grab a bag of frozen ones when I'm at a Chinese supermarket. They're about the size of the first segment of your thumb, so I always call them thumbnail dumplings. But in actuality, I've discovered that they're popularly called "pearl dumplings" or "zhen zhu shui jiao" (珍珠水饺) in Chinese. It's a nice name don't you think? I think 3 of these mini ones equal one of the larger traditional dumplings. But anyway, this was a late lunch, since I regularly wake up late on the weekends. I shared about 3/4 of a frozen bag's worth with my boyfriend, using my trusty ricecooker to boil them so that I wouldn't have to leave the room. Yum! I like to dip mine in some hoisin sauce, and my boyfriend likes to make a little emulsion of soy sauce and sesame oil for his.

8:00PM Dorm Room, MCAT Studying
1 snack size bag of Popsecret 100 Calorie Pop Kettle Corn (100 calories). I generally dislike popcorn because it tends to get stuck in my teeth and my throat, and the monotony of the butter flavor fails to excite me. However, kettle corn is an entirely different beast, with a subtle butter flavor accentuated with sugar. These cute little snack size bags are an easy snack and really good for you. Popcorn has a good deal of fiber, with relatively few calories. The kettle corn is especially good because there is less butter and the sugar happens to be Splenda, which doesn't taste very fake at all. I needed something to fill me up while I wait for my boyfriend to finish his work at his lab so we can order out for dinner. I think it won't be until 10 or 11, so it'll be a while.

10:45PM Dorm Room, Watching Daybreak
1/2 of mushroom ravioli and grilled chicken breast in mushroom cream sauce entree from Blackjack Pasta Bar (5 raviolis and 3 oz. of chicken, 560 calories). Also 1 piece of garlic bread (~ 2.5 oz, 200 calories). My boyfriend and I decided to try out this new restaurant that started offering online ordering through Campusfood.com. They specialize in freshly made pasta, and you can customize your dish with type of pasta, sauce, meat, and other toppings. My ravioli and chicken dish cost $10, and it was really tasty! The mushroom flavor wasn't too strong and neither was the cream. The chicken was a little dry, but that's to be expected of grilled chicken breast. In any case, I'll have another meal out of this dish tomorrow, so it's a great deal. My boyfriend was very pleased with his veal parmesan and spaghetti, since it had real (unprocessed) veal in it, and he says the marinara was just right (price tag only $9.75!) So I'm sure we'll be ordering from there again sometime. Yum! (Sorry my picture looks kind of gross, it was hard to show how tasty it looked. The little bits everywhere are mushroom bits in the sauce.)

Total for today is about 1300 calories. Pretty good, considering that I ordered out. I think it really helped to plan out ahead of time that I wanted to save half of my mushroom ravioli entree. It was also really helpful that I could physically count the number of raviolis I was eating, so I could stop halfway without overestimating.


Friday, March 9th

9:20AM Dorm Room
1 can of eight treasure congee (12.6 oz, 280 calories). This stuff tastes okay, and fills you up for a while (it has a whopping 15g of fiber, giving you 61% of your daily intake in just one serving!). It's called "ba bao zhou" (八宝粥) in Chinese. I eat it in the mornings if I'm not sure when I can grab lunch. The congee includes glutinous rice, wheat, red bean, green bean, peanuts, pearl barley, logans, and lotus seeds. See? Eight treasures!

12:15PM Whitehead Institute Friday Forum
1 portabella mushroom stuffed with spinach, ricotta, and mozerella. 1/3 cup rice. 1/2 of a 4-inch white chocolate chip cookie. Mmmm there's nothing more satisfying than free food :) This is the first Friday Forum I've gone to at Whitehead (where I work in my lab), and there's free lunch provided. I was not too hungry since I had that can of congee in the morning, but the stuffed portabella was delicious! Mmmm!

2:00PM Lab Computer Lounge
1/2 can of Diet Coke while surfing on the computer and chatting with labmates.

6:45PM Baker Dorm Dining
1 chicken breast piccata (280 calories), with 1 cup linguine (200 calories), and 1 cup of steamed corn (90 calories) and carrots (25 calories). Also 1 wheat dinner roll (78 calories) with butter (36 calories). Not too many options at Baker dining tonight, it was either the chicken piccata or stir fry or grill items. I did avoid grabbing a dessert though, despite the fact that the entire kitchen was smelling like freshly baked cake haha. I think I will skip the dinner roll from now on. I only started getting it recently because I wanted some variety in my dinner, but it's just extra calories that I don't need in my meal.

11:15PM Dorm Room, Studying for MCAT (on a Friday night…)
1 Viactiv "Flavor Glides" multi-vitamin. I try to take a vitamin whenever I remember to, so at least a few times a week. These are supposed to be taken with a meal, but I always forget. Oh well.

1:45AM Dorm Room, Taking a Study Break
1 Del Monte Lite Diced Peaches fruit cup (4 oz, 50 calories) and 12 lightly salted almonds (80 calories). A late night snack to keep me going. Tried to pick healthy options, even though I was really craving something savory and unhealthy. The almonds really help fill me up, so that curbs the cravings. That plus the fact that I don't really even have much good stuff to eat in the room haha.

So it looks like the day's total is about 1500 calories. I think that's pretty average for what I aim for in a day, though my guess is that I often overshoot if I'm not keeping careful track. See? I knew there would be a benefit to starting this food diary :)

4:45AM Time for Bed, Finally
Feeling pretty hungry, since it's been 3 hours since I had my snack… but I'm about to go to bed so I don't want to eat right beforehand. But yeah… staying up late really does suck.


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