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sesame tahini

Socca with Swiss Chard, Pine Nuts and Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

Socca with Swiss Chard, Pine Nuts and Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

Socca and tahini have pretty much been my main obsessions for the past year. Although, my love affair with tahini really extends much further back than that. If you’re not on the sesame tahini train, I advise you to get on it. (Come aboard the Soom train, and you’ll get an extra smooth ride.)

Socca still feels new to me though, with what seems like a never-ending number of ways I could imagine it being used. In fact, that’s what I love about both tahini and socca – they can be reinvented in so many different ways, including this latest creation where the two team up together.

Socca with Swiss Chard, Pine Nuts and Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

Swiss chard is of course yet another lovely ingredient. Add it to anything, and what will result is the magical appearance of something beautiful. Those colors…pretty much the embodiment of spring at its best.

It’s as vibrant as the weeping cherry tree and pink tulip filled gardens, and as tasty as the greens that are beginning to show up in them. Magic.

Swiss Chard Stalks

Here, swiss chard gets a simple saute to create a light and healthy, seasonal topping for the tender socca that’s placed beneath. A tangy yogurt-tahini sauce richens it up, and creates a meal you’ll want to make again. And again. And again. Until your tahini jar runs out, and you move onto a new socca creation.

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Cut into quarters and serve as a meal for two, or divide into smaller pieces for a fun pre-dinner or party app. Note, you will want to serve this up with a fork. You’ll find the socca dough to be rather tender in comparison to pizza or other similarly-styled dishes. It’s more than worth the fork though, and even slightly messy hands if need be!

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Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumbers and Roasted Eggplant

Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumbers and Roasted Eggplant

I’ve never been good at desk jobs.

My brain says yes. But my body says no. And then my brain gets confused. And then I get confused. And my mind says, “What am I supposed to do with my life?!”

Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumbers and Roasted Eggplant

We’ll see if that question ever gets answered. In the meantime, I’m juggling office life with photoshoot life, and keeping my workdays and work weekends busy. It’s been exciting on both fronts, and I am happy to say I’ve finally come across a company on the front end of that which is working to make my uncertainty at least a little easier. The very nice people at this company, at least mildly, know desk life gives me trouble.

And so they’ve granted me permission to spend one day per month cooking the office lunch. Um, can you say dream job perk?

Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumbers and Roasted Eggplant

After spending the 9 o’clock hour perusing the aisles of Whole Foods to gather the first lunch’s ingredients, I almost thought, “Could this be my dream job?” Shopping at Whole Foods, maybe. Cooking day-in-and-day-out in a hot, windowless kitchen, probably not.

The company lunch creation was super fun though, and definitely a success. On tap: a herb-laced spring garden salad with sungold tomatoes (my favorite cherry) and red onions, along with a simple homemade balsamic vinaigrette. This Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumbers, Roasted Eggplant, and Crispy Tofu recipe. And a finale of fresh ginger juice shots to finish out the meal with some pep.

Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumbers and Roasted Eggplant

I decided to create this recipe based off of three primary factors. 1) Who doesn’t love noodles? 2) Though pasta is a pleaser, there’s no way I was showing up with a boring/non-creative recipe. 3) I’ve been entirely inspired by cucumbers lately. Don’t ask me why, but they’re the one summer veg. I’ve been consistently buying as of late.

So this was born, and it’s definitely going on the repeat list. SO MUCH FLAVOR. The sesame sauce adds that first depth, and then the cilantro and scallions make sure not one bite goes flavorless. You’ve also got the velvety, roasted eggplant adding to the creaminess of the sauce, with crunch cukes lightening the whole dish up, and crispy tofu adding in some protein. Oh, and ginger, too. Okay, I’ll stop listing off the ingredient list now. But you get the idea of how it all comes together.

Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumbers and Roasted Eggplant

If you can’t get this on your workplace’s table, get it on your dinner plate. And enjoy ideally at room temp., but really whatever temp. your set on at the moment.

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Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush

When I get eggplant, it heads straight to the oven. Forget stir-fry. Forget sautés. Forget the grill. Forget anything else you’d ever do with the purple beauts.

Like wine is made for sharing, eggplant’s made for roasting.

This applies 95% of the time in my kitchen. Nothing beats a soft and caramelized, creamy bite of eggplant. And nothing’s worse than an undercooked bite, either.  This happens all too often in stir fry, often with restaurants that don’t know what they’re doing.  Stick with baking and give yourself ample time, and you’ll be golden. Your eggplant too.

Heirloom eggplant

Baba ganoush is a classic, Middle Eastern dip. It’s similar to hummus, but swaps the chickpeas for roasted eggplant. It’s creamy, cumin-y, and the perfect smearer for a slightly toasted pita. Try it out while you can because the summer season’s quickly coming to an end, and along with it, farm-to-table eggplant.

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