We spent the afternoon in the kitchen yesterday, putting together a delicious recipe for burnt eggplant with tahini included in Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty, and later on a favorite mushroom and barley soup from Mark Bittman.
I roasted the eggplant until its skin wrinkled and turned black in patches, then scooped out the soft flesh and let it sit in a colander over the sink to strain away some of its juices. Chopped, the eggplant goes into a bowl where it awaits a drizzle of tahini, pomegranate molasses, and lemon juice. Ottolenghi calls for a bit of water as well, since tahini often needs thinning. Chopped parsley, pomegranate arils, sliced cucumber and tomatoes mixed in make this a beautiful and substantial salad. A small bowlful tastes rich, creamy, and nutty while the lemon, garlic, parsley and pomegranate cut through and balance the flavors in this dish.
Later, I steeped dried porcini mushrooms in hot water to use in the barley soup. That’s about as fussy as Bittman’s recipe gets; otherwise, it’s just chucking some sliced carrots and mushrooms in a pot and letting them sweeten and brown. Add the barley and stir to coat and toast, then the chopped porcini along with the reserved liquid and some additional water or vegetable broth, a bay leaf and some salt and pepper and leave to cook for 30 or so minutes, until the barley is soft. Stir a splash of soy sauce through at the last minute to give a rich, umami flavor to the soup.
I love how comforting this soup is, but eat too many bowlfuls and you’ll have a heavy stomach. We took a long walk after dinner! Also-Piper didn’t eat the salad (I’m not surprised), but she does love the soup. I’m always interested to see her tastes and preferences. If something is too finicky or has too many ingredients in it, she tends to avoid it. A simple bowl of mushroom barley soup, though, seems to pass the test. Also, I guess barley tastes enough like pasta to her, because she still doesn’t seem to like quinoa, but will eat couscous and rice easily.
Hope you all are having a good day-W.