August 13, 2010

What You Mean, You Don't Eat No Meat?

Please tell me you have seen "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." If you have not, go rent it, and then come back to the blog, and you will be exponentially more appreciative of the title of today's post. "Tula, eat something please!" Ah, yes. The women in that film remind me of my Jewish grandmother (and for that matter, my non Jewish grandmother & mother too, who just love to feed people. Now my (over) eating habits all make sense!). I picked this title for a couple of reasons. First, like to think of this as a partially Greek inspired meal, also containing a large amount of protein (without the use of meat). It has a Yogurt Sauce that somewhat reminds me of Greek Tahini, and plus I use Feta Cheese in the barley dish, too. Another item I identify as being Greek. I pretty much made up both these recipes from seeing them in magazines and online but didn't follow any recipe, except for the yogurt sauce since I didn't know the specific ratio of ingredients that it's comprised of.

Eggplant Pita
Whole Wheat Pitas
2 Eggplants (I got mine from the Wicker Park Farmer's Market!)
2 cups Arugula
1/2 a fresh Lemon
1 teaspoon Tarragon
Salt & Pepper
1/4 cup Greek Yogurt (I used Fat Free)
Garlic (1 to 2 cloves depending how bad you want your breath to smell)

Tomato Feta Barley
Barley (I used 3 cups)
1 small container cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
1 clove garlic
1 handful (or 2) of feta cheese

I am going to explain how to just make everything at once. It's easier that way. Make sure you have chocolate or cheese available for snacking just in case you are hungry after working out (not saying I did that or anything, just suggesting it).

Major Cooking Instructions:
1. Pre-Heat the oven to be 425. Some people use the grill for these, I personally like to bake them instead. Set up a pot with boiling salted water on the stove for the barley.
2. Cut up the Eggplant in small slices so they look like little coasters. Slice up the Tomatoes in halves, and mince 1 clove of garlic.
3. Coat Eggplant with either Fat Free Olive Oil spray (from Whole Foods) or with Olive Oil, either one works. I like the spray better. Lightly coat on both sides of each disc and then put salt and pepper across all them as well. Coat the tomatoes with a little spray or Olive Oil, coat with salt and pepper, and mix together with the garlic.
4. Put Eggplant on a tin pan (covered in foil for easy clean-up) arranged in a pretty way (but most importantly so all them will cook evenly). On another pan, put the tomatoes and garlic mixture.
5. Bake Eggplant for 15 minutes, flip them over, bake for another (at least) 10 based on how rustic tasting you like them. Bake the tomatoes for about 25-35 minutes.
6. The barley needs at least 25 or 30 minutes to cook. Keep tasting it. When it's ready, strain out most of the water, leave just a little bit.
7. Combine tomatoes & garlic mixture and fold into barley, adding salt and pepper if needed. Also add in the feta to taste at this time.

Sauce Instructions:
1. Chop tarragon into tiny pieces. Combine with yogurt in a bowl. I used a tad more than 1/4 cup of yogurt and added more as I made the mixture, since I wanted it less "lemony".
2. Squeeze about 1/2 lemon into the mixture. Stir.
3. Add either a quick teaspoon of Olive Oil (I used Almond Milk, don't tell my boyfriend) for enhancing the liquidity of the mixture.
4. Add salt and pepper. More salt than pepper is good to go.

Combine sauce with arugula and toast the pita if you'd like before combining with the Eggplant patties. Another addition you can do to the patties, which I tried as an afterthought, is that I melted cheese on 1/4 of them during the last few minutes the pan was in the stove (mozzarella cheese was good).

Mazel Tov,

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