YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Grandma Rosie’s Chopped Eggplant

On this Mother’s Day 2019, here is my present to you: Grandma Rosie’s Chopped Eggplant. This recipe means so much more to me than simply the sum of its ingredients. We used to make it for special holidays, and always in a big wooden bowl with what we reverently called “the chopper,” a utensil whose correct name — I have since learned — is actually “mezzaluna,” which accurately describes its half-moon shape. The bowl and its contents would pass among my grandmother and whomever else was helping out in the kitchen, each of us chopping for as long as we were able, until our chopping arm was aching and it was time for the bowl to be transferred to the next lap. We all chopped, but only Grandma Rosie decided when the eggplant was ready.
On a recent visit to Jerusalem to visit my son and daughter-in-law, who asked me to make this recipe for them to serve at a special celebration, I discovered neither wooden bowl nor mezzaluna, nor even a food processor. What to do? Improvise! I would never have guessed that I could reproduce this recipe with just a knife, fork, and cutting board, but that is exactly what happened. Grandma Rosie would have been so proud, and I like to imagine that this is how chopped eggplant was prepared (perhaps by Grandma Rosie’s own grandmother before her?) some long-ago time before wooden bowls and choppers became “de rigueur” in the Eastern European kitchen.
Note: I usually roast the eggplants the night before I plan to make the recipe, so they can cool overnight.
1. Puncture 4 med-large eggplants with a fork or knife in a few places, and roast on high heat (475F) in oven until skins are blackened and flesh is soft. Start checking after 30 minutes, but it may take up to an hour or so. Allow to cool completely.
2. Chop 6 medium yellow onions coarsely.
3. Add 4 onions worth (2/3 of the pile) to a large frying pan with generous amount of sizzling olive oil (3-4 Tbsp). Stir frequently on med to high heat until onions are clear and edges are browning. Set aside.
4. Sprinkle remaining onions with one and one-half teaspoons of salt and chop as fine as possible, even until the onions begin to become paste-like.
5. Use the back of a fork to mash the eggplant with all the onions (cooked and raw) until well mixed.
6. If you like, you can also add one-half teaspoon black pepper, or mash a couple cloves of fresh garlic with the raw onion, or sprinkle the top with parsley prior to serving. Also, use a food processor if you like, but be careful to pulse just a few times or the texture will become thick and gummy.
Serves 6-8, warm or cold.
Thank you, Grandma Rosie, and Happy Mother’s Day to you.

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Haminados (Eggs) for Passover

Haminados are one of my all-time favorite Passover recipes! Simple, sublime and delicious, they have been a staple at the Passover tables of Mediterranean Jewish communities for millennia! Check out this recipe and you’ll see why. Whether you make this dish in your crockpot or oven, it takes just a few minutes to toss it together and get things cooking. Continue reading


What Happens in December Stays in December

This month, a lot of people weigh more than they did in October. The problem is so widespread that, especially in people who are working to lose, I make it a point to applaud their efforts even if they have simply maintained their weight at the same number over the last few months. That’s because December is the time of year when people eat the most entertainment [read: sugar and white flour]. Continue reading


Laurel Gallucci’s Insanely Wonderful Chocolate Cake That Changed Everything

From time to time I post a dessert recipe, but it’s usually something tame, like apple slices. Just kidding. But seriously, I don’t post a lot of dessert recipes.

This recipe, on the other hand, breaks the mold. It is, by far, the most decadent thing I’ve ever posted on YHIOYP. Even if you never make it yourself, you have to appreciate the talent and passion of a woman who figured out how to make a cake like this. I thought it would be the perfect thing for anyone who is inspired to make something spectacular for the holidays. Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Cranberry-Ginger Relish After Thanksgiving

Since I go absolutely ga-ga over cranberries, and I absolutely adore ginger, I consider this a perfect recipe! Eat this cranberry-ginger relish straight off your fork, or drop a heaping spoonful into a bowl of squash soup or a cup of plain yogurt. And it’s a perfect choice for slathering onto a slice of leftover turkey that could use a little more moisture.

Continue reading


Thanksgiving Gratitude

Many years ago, when I was eleven years old, my parents bought a Corning Cooktop stove, a fancy new appliance whose coils remained white when they were hot. You just had to take it on faith — or not. No matter how long I stared at that new stovetop, I could not convince myself that the white coils were hot. And that is why I still remember clearly, so many years later, the perfectly oval burn on the tip of my right index finger. I only touched it once, but that was all it took. I couldn’t take anyone else’s word for it. I needed to see for myself. Continue reading


Sweet New Year Soup

Tonight, as the sun slips below the horizon, we will begin our celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. Traditional Rosh Hashanah foods tend toward the sweet and the circular: sweet for a sweet new year, and circular to represent the seasons that run one into the next, year after year, around and around. Instead of the usual braid, we even twist our challah (egg bread) into a round this time of year.  Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Chocolate-Pecan Bars (df, gf, vegan, no bake)

My friend Lia brought these to book club a couple weeks ago. OMG. You should make them. Technically they are meant to be dessert, but they would be great for breakfast, too. I would bring them to folks young and old. A reunion of friends. A picnic. A gathering of neighbors. A special meal. An ordinary one.

Food like this creates all kinds of moments, like moments in time and moments of gratitude. It’s a personal reminder that food is meant to nourish not just the body, but the heart and soul as well. And the best is when our food does all three at the same time. Thank you, Lia.

Date-Pecan Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted, natural almond butter
  • 1 ½ cups unsalted pecan halves, divided
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 5-7 pitted Medjool dates (1/2 cup packed)

Chocolate Layer

  • ½ cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup PLUS 1 Tbsp. natural almond butter, unsalted

Topping

  • ¼ cup pecans, chopped

Directions

  1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, greased foil, or wax paper. Set aside.
  2. To prepare the date-pecan layer, add dates and almond butter to a food processor. Blend approx. one minute until sticky and crumbly, like chunks of wet sand or dough. Scrape down the sides of the processor intermittently, as needed, between processing.
  3. Add 1 cup pecans, vanilla, and salt to food processor. Blend continuously until pecans are fully incorporated and mixture is soft and crumbly. When the mixture holds together when pinched, it’s ready. Add remaining pecans, and pulse only a few times until pecans are just barely incorporated, with medium-small pieces still visible.
  4. Pour the contents into the prepared baking pan. Press gently with a spatula, and smooth into an even, tightly-packed layer.
  5. To prepare the chocolate mixture, add chocolate chips and (¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp.) of almond butter to the top of a double boiler, or heat in a microwave (in a microwave-safe bowl) in 20-second increments until soft and melted. Stir until smooth.
  6. Pour chocolate mixture over date-pecan layer. Smooth into an even layer using a rubber spatula. Sprinkle evenly with chopped pecans, and press gently into the chocolate.
  7. Freeze for 20-30 minutes. Remove from freezer and slice into 16 generous bars or 20 bite-size pieces.

Thank you to Beaming Baker for a prior version of this recipe.


Fourth of July Celebration (almost)!

Here’s one of my all-time favorite posts, reposted from July 4, 2010:
It’s the fourth of July today, and my sibs and I have converged on the family home for the great annual bash. On and off since yesterday evening, five strapping grandsons have been carrying cartons of beer, wine, soda, water, and iced tea up to the deck, where great drums of ice stand ready to receive them all. Continue reading


Something from Nothing: Gifts from the Compost Pile

Some years ago, when winter was coming to an end and spring was still soggy and cold, I discovered a lone organic potato in my kitchen. I have to specify that it was organic because conventionally grown potatoes are much less likely to root and generate offspring. This sad little potato was dried out, wrinkly, and way past edible. At least six little rootlets were beginning to form on the skin, and so I decided to try an experiment. Continue reading