Do you ever have weeks or months or seasons where it seems like you never stop? You’re always busy or have something nagging at you to be done, and you can force yourself to do them, but really all you want to do is sit around and relax? Maybe you’re the sort of person who always likes to be busy, and if you are, go you– my mom is definitely this sort of person and it is beyond my understanding how she can always have the energy to go from one task to another to another all the time. Needless to say, I’ve sort of been in a busy-rut that I don’t particularly want to be in, but I also do want to be in it. It’s hard to put into words because all of the things that make me busy are things that I want to be doing. They’re tasks that I enjoy, such as cooking and this blog, but that also take away from veg time. Alas, I recently decided to stop stressing about all of the things and start finding ways to create more fun. And if you’re ever feeling the same vague and indescribable way I’ve been feeling, I highly suggest you search for easy ways to have fun, too.
The first thing that I thought of (and did) to have more fun, which I recommend, is have a party. No need for it to be fancy, but I’m positive that some snacks and drinks and laughing friends are sure to lead to the sort of planning and chores that lead to contentment. You don’t even need to worry about making your house sparkle or changing out of your slippers since there’s no need to impress you friends. This party is for you, and them too, but more importantly for fun, so make it easy. I love to cook for my friends, so if you enjoy that, do it, but if you need a break from the kitchen, stop by the store and grab something.
Of course, since there’s a recipe below here, there’s a heavy push in the direction to make a few snacks. A dip or two, some crudites and a simple dessert is plenty to fill a table, and I’m always a fan of things that can be made ahead. The small spread at my party included Asian meatballs and this charred eggplant dip, both of which require little effort but pack in a lot of flavor.
I’m not a big eggplant lover, and Ben won’t go near it with a ten foot pole, but even he agreed that this dip was good and doesn’t taste like eggplant. What it tastes like almost caramelized roasted garlic mixed with pungent herbs (cilantro, mint and parsley) and creamy, tangy yogurt–the eggplant really only gives it substance and a slightly smoky flavor. Plus, in the same category as sour cream and cream cheese-laden spreads, it’s light; you won’t feel guilty dipping into the leftovers the next day if you’re lucky enough to have any. The dip was great, the party was great– I had fun and forgot about the nagging to-do list of responsibilities. I’m working on keeping things lighter and finding the twinkling stars in a cloudy night sky, and a little soiree is a nice way to jump start that mindset.
Note: This dip can be made ahead one or two days. Set it out 30 minutes before serving to bring it to room temperature.
1-1 ¼ pound eggplant
2 large shallots, halved
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
extra virgin olive oil
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons each of minced parsley, mint and cilantro
1. Carefully roast the eggplant over an open flame or under the broiler, six inches from the broiling element until softened and charred, about 15 minutes. If broiling, be sure to turn the eggplant every 4 minutes.
2. Transfer the eggplant to a baking dish, and turn the oven to 375F. Add shallots and garlic to the baking with, and drizzle with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper over the dish, and bake for 35 minutes, until the eggplant is very tender.
3. Let the eggplant cool completely (which happens much faster if you stick it outside in winter), and then scrape the eggplant flesh into a colander. Discard the eggplant peel. With a fork or the back of a spoon, press against the eggplant flesh to release as much water as possible, mixing it and gently pressing for 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Mince the eggplant, shallots and garlic. Transfer to a bowl, and mix in Greek yogurt, lemon juice and herbs. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with pita chips and crudites.