Saturday, February 23, 2013

Purple Carrot Tzatziki and
Eggplant and Walnut Dip


Right now our fridge is full to the seal with the weight of two and a half men's worth of organic vegetables that I had delivered to my door yesterday. The box arrived with rather large quantities of 15 different varieties of vegetable, some of which I've never cooked with before but can't wait to get my kitchen tools into.

There's more than Tony and I could get through in a week but I'm determined not to let any of it go to waste. Whether I make a batch of freezer-friendly soup or perhaps a stew, or share our bounty with the neighbours, everything in that refrigerator will be consumed. (I really should introduce myself to our neighbours. It's been almost three years after all and I'm sure they wouldn't mind me offering them a batch of pumpkin and feta croquettes since I'll have about 2,000 of them after I'm done with the massive pumpkin that's sitting in my fridge!)

The first vegetables I really wanted to play with were the purple carrots. I'd seen them in the shops a couple of times but never used or eaten them before. I did however know about their tendency to spread their wonderful hue over everything they touch once you start working with them, and the little dish I had in mind involved fine grating which was going to be VERY MESSY. Definitely a job for the food preparation surgical gloves (why someone didn't invent these nifty things 20 years ago I really don't know).

I was recently reading up on the culinary traditions of different Greek regions and discovered that some villages in the eastern parts of Greece use carrots in their tzatziki instead of cucumber. It adds a bit more texture and a brighter colour and has no excess liquid to squeeze out before mixing with the yoghurt. But have a look at how brilliant this purple carrot tzatziki has turned out!


Just like strawberry ice cream! But don't be fooled. With a heavy hit of garlic and the slightly bitter taste of the purple carrot, this silky dollop of pink delishiousness packs a very different punch to the sweet sensation of strawberry ice cream.


I use eggplants (aubergines) a lot in cooking, and it's an especially well-used ingredient in Greek cooking, but believe it or not, I've never made eggplant dip. Until today. The big shiny eggplants in my veggie box were going to be perfect for my first-ever melitzanosalata (eggplant dip).

I love the earthy depth of flavour that comes from an eggplant when roasted, and I wanted to add another ingredient to enhance that earthiness. Then I remembered a waiter at a taverna in Limnos telling me they make their eggplant dip with walnuts. Well how perfect is that. I just wish I had have thought of it myself, before remembering that someone else already thought of it! I did have the good sense though to add a bit of honey to this dip to take away some of the bitterness of the eggplant and it made a world of difference. Try it yourself, before and after honey. You might even prefer the bitter version sans honey.

I was really pleased with the results of both dips although in hindsight I think a tiny bit of tomato paste for the eggplant dip might have brightened it up a bit. It was rather outshone by the pretty party colours of the purple carrot tzatziki.


Purple Carrot Tzatziki


Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 purple carrot, peeled and finely grated
  • 2 cups Greek yoghurt*
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely shredded
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
Click here for the recipe to make your own Greek yoghurt.

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients and you're done.
  2. Too easy!!

Eggplant and Walnut Dip


Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 eggplants
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup of shelled walnuts
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Pierce eggplants several times with a fork, place on a baking tray and roast for 30 minutes, turning once after 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place the garlic, walnuts, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a food processor and pulse until the mixture forms a paste.
  3. Remove eggplants from the oven and allow to cool a little. The eggplants will be wrinkly and soft. Cut of stems and cut the eggplants lengthways and remove peel.
  4. Roughly chop eggplants and add to food processor along with remaining olive oil. Process until all ingredients are well combined then add honey and salt to taste.

10 comments:

  1. These sound like something I would not feel bad about eating a whole batch of.

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    1. Oh I know what you mean cquek. I've just about eaten both batches of these dips already. My whole body might reek of garlic but with all the immune-system-boosting properties of garlic, at least I know I won't catch a cold for a while!!

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  2. That eggplant dip looks really tasty!! (nice photo too, but the way)
    The purple carrot really make an interesting color.

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    1. Thank you Anonymous. Both dips are very tasty, and addictive. I love the colour the purple carrot imparts – much like beetroot, and just as messy to work with!

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  3. OMG. This looks heavenly and sounds so easy to make! Am totally gonna try this one!

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    1. Very very easy Preethi, especially the purple carrot tzatziki. Of course you could use regular carrots if you can't get hold of some purple ones. Imagine how lovely a bowl of orange carrot tzatziki would look next to a bowl of purple carrot tzatziki!

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  4. ooh this purple carrot tzatziki looks interesting!

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    1. It's funny, but since I made this purple tzatziki, I've been seeing purple carrots in every store I walk in to! They used to be so hard to find and now they're everywhere!!

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  5. What a wonderful presentation! The photos are amazing! But purple carrot? I have never heard of it. It looks to me like beetroot. Looks inviting and very tasty anyhow. Thank you for posting it Lisa.

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    1. Thank you Divine Woman! I know, purple carrot is such a novelty. Actually, I haven't seen it around in the stores for a while. Out of fashion now perhaps? You know I think beetroot would be even nicer in this recipe. The carrot didn't add much flavour-wise – it was more about the striking colour :)

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