Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Leftover Dinner

So by now you’ve seen my eggplant stuffed phyllo triangles and my roasted vegetable couscous dinner. The next evening I had a strange amount of eggplant filling and couscous leftover, and didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t have any more phyllo sheets, so pastry triangles were out. I had maybe a cup of remaining couscous and vegetables. This didn’t instantly form a meal in my mind, but I’m reluctant to waste food, especially when it is this delicious.

So, I went back to my roots. As a kid, I ate a lot of different things, and my parents were relatively healthy. I’ve already shared with you how I rejected my mother’s minestrone, and lentils with roasted vegetables, staples in my diet now. However, one of the meals I did relish was a pita pocket stuffed with grilled lamb, with a cucumber tomato mint salsa on top. I don’t know what specifically appealed to my 7 year old tastes; maybe it was just the phrase “pita pocket” (say it out’s fun), but I remember that dinner with glee.

The raw eggplant filling would not be an appropriate filling for pita pockets, but forming them into meatballs resulted in a perfect cross between the original eggplant meatball recipe and another Middle Eastern favorite, the falafel. Stuffing the pita pockets with the Moroccan seasoned eggplant meatballs and a bright tomato cucumber mint salad made for a fantastic Sunday night dinner.

Again, my entrée was in need of a side dish. One cup of couscous is not enough for multiple people, so in order to stretch the couscous, I added a cup of cooked dandelion greens I had leftover from the previous day’s lunch, and half a can of garbanzo beans that I had frozen a few weeks before. My freezer is littered with frozen bags of tomato paste, vegetable stock, grated ginger, and other things that I may need in the next few weeks. I topped this new couscous with sliced almonds and grated lemon zest, and voilá! A new dinner made entirely out of things I already had.

You can get the recipe for the eggplant filling here. Form the filling into golf ball sized meatballs, and spray with cooking oil. Bake at 375º for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cover with foil. Allow to sit for five minutes before serving

For the salad, dice one cucumber and one tomato. Add 1 tablespoon of chopped mint. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

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