Aviyal is a South Indian dish that is made up of thin strips of any crisp vegetables you can get your hands on. I found this in a cookbook, and it looked interesting, so I thought I would Google it to see if the recipe was anywhere near authentic. It’s safe to say that this recipe is a North Americanized version of the dish, as many of the ‘acceptable veggies’ that are often used in this dish are probably not easy to find. We go to Little India, here in Toronto, every once in a while, so I may just try to make Aviyal the ‘real’ way sometime this summer.
The one thing that is intact in this recipe is the inclusion of coconut. Coconut seems to be a primary ingredient in the sauce. I am a little bit skepical, however, as many comments about Aviyal is that it also has a lovely sour taste to it (sometimes introduced by tamarind). There was nothing sour about this dinner. I did take one ingredient out of the dish. After reading up on the dish, and the “rules” for making it, I really couldn’t bring myself to put in any tomato. The #1 rule is to use only vegetables that would remain crisp when cooked. That means you shouldn’t use tomato, eggplant, okra, or even regular onions (which the recipe also called for). Luckily, I had some green leek on hand, which gave a nice onion flavour without the mushy fried onion texture.
The dish was a hit! The veggies were still crisp and fresh tasting, and the sauce was light and coconutty. The sauce is actually a little hard to describe — the coconut meat, which makes up the bulk of the ‘sauce’ was really not saucey at all. Some coconut milk did come out of the coconut, however, and nicely mixed with the spices to make a yummy sauce.
This recipe is from the book “Simple Vegetarian Recipes” by Rosemary Wadey et al. (p.45)
This is another episode in the ‘Cookbook Diving’ series. Today’s recipe comes from “Classic Vegetarian Recipes” cookbook by Sue Ashworth et al. (p.186)
Toad-in-the-hole is traditionally NOT a vegetarian dish, and is generally not considered a meal in itself. This dish, however, is both. The addition of a variety of vegetables and fresh herbs makes it a hearty and flavourful light meal. We ate this with an avocado and tomato salad on the side.
This can also be eaten as a side dish for fish – a simple grilled salmon filet would be a nice pairing.
One thing that makes this recipe is the use of mustard to flavour both the bread batter and the vegetables. The result is not a strong mustard taste, but a nice tangy hit that helps to bring out the flavour of the vegetables. To mix it up, you can always add other root vegetables (turnip would be really great with the mustard), or substitute pesto for the mustard.
I think I cheated by picking a recipe from the same cookbook as last time, La Cucina Italiana. It wasn’t planned – I actually chose three different recipes from three different cookbooks. This just happens to be the first of the three that I made.
This is a ricotta-based dumpling dish called ‘Malfatti’. The malfatti get pressed into small eggs, using spoons.
Shaping the malfatti into “quenelles” using two spoons.
Unlike other European dumplings I’ve had, these were light and not as dense as I expected. They were, however, filling. Four malfatti were enough for me!! The sauce was a bit of a departure for me – my sauces are usually a bit of a ‘kitchen sink’ concoction where I add a mix of herbs and spices, as many veggies as I can fit, and whatever else I have in the fridge. This sauce was simple, red pepper and tomato being the main ingredients, with oregano and s&p as the only seasoning. I think I showed great restraint by not adding in sautéed mushrooms, chili pepper, or any other herbs. (I did add a few fresh chives to my dish, but I don’t think that counts!!)
A few grilled scallops and shrimps rounded out the meal. They were a good addition, because they are also lightly flavoured. We considered having rainbow trout, but I think that would have been a little too much alongside the malfatti.
This was a tasty dish, good to make whenever you have a little bit of extra time. It takes a little more preparation than your average pasta meal, but the extra effort is definitely worth it!
Recipe after the jump.
Continue reading Malfatti with Red Sauce
This is the first installment of my ‘Cookbook Diving’ series, where I dig up recipes from my lonely little cookbooks. I have a number of cookbooks that I rarely use, especially now that it’s so easy to find recipes on the internet. I thought it was about time I start finding some tasty treasures on my own bookshelf, so here we go!
Earlier, I posted about our Greek themed meal featuring my first attempt at Spanakopita. Since we couldn’t make an entire meal out of spinach pie, I thought I should dig around for some other treats. I decided to make eggplant bundles, stuffed with tomato, herbs and cheese. This recipe is actually from an Italian cookbook, but since many of the ingredients cross over with Greek cuisine, I thought I could modify it to make it work with our meal. I did the obvious, and simply replaced the herbs and the type of cheese used, since they wouldn’t change the basic structure of the dish.
This pic gives you a bit of a peek inside at the tomato… sneaky little food!
These were very simple to make, but some of them didn’t want to stay together when I flipped them on the baking sheet. No worries! It’s pretty easy to just stuff it all back together. I modified the original recipe to coat the bundles with the leftover butter/herb/spinach juice from the spanakopita, which worked really well and added some extra flavour. There was also a sun-dried tomato dressing that was meant to be drizzled on top of the bundles when served, but I just left that off. I don’t think it was missing anything.
After a little bit of digging, I found something new in one of my dusty cookbooks. I wonder what other hidden gems I’ve been sitting on!
Broiled Eggplant Bundles – Greek Style
Serves 4, Modified from an Italian recipe in the book La Cucina Italiana edited by Gabriella Rossi
- 2 large, long eggplants
- 1/4 lb feta cheese
- 2 plum tomatoes
- 8 sprigs of parsley and/or dill
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper
- Remove the stalks from the eggplants and cut them lengthwise into thin slices — the aim is to get 16 slices in total (about 1/4 inch thick). Ignore the first & last slices.
- Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil an cook the eggplant for a couple of minutes, or until just softened. Drain the sliced eggplant and pat dry using a clean towel. Set aside.
- Mash the cheese a little, so there aren’t any big chunks.
- Cut each tomato into 8 slices, ignoring the first & last slices.
- Take two eggplant slices and place on a baking shet, forming a cross. Place a slice of tomato in the centre of the cross, season with salt & pepper, then add a sprig of parsley and/or dill, followed by a dollop of cheese, a sprinkle of oregano, a slice of tomato and more salt & pepper.
- Fold the ends ofthe eggplant slices around the cheese and tomato filling to make a neat bundle. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients to make 8 bundles. Chill the bundles for about 20 minutes.
- Preheat the broiler. Brush the bundles with oilive oil and cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until golden. Serve hot.