Ikra (Eggplant Spread)

Ikra is an Eastern European eggplant spread that makes a great starter, but in my opinion, mostly belongs on a piece of nice toasted bread 🙂

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 small carrots, grated
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 10-15 sprigs flat leaf parsley
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp hot red pepper paste such as harissa (or 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes)
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Poke holes in eggplants using a fork. If you have a gas stove or grill, char the eggplant and red bell pepper over the flame, until the skins darken and get smokey (approximately 5 minutes each side). *If you do not have a gas stove or grill, simply bake the eggplant and red pepper whole in the oven at 400 F for approximately 30 minutes.*

Cool eggplant until cool enough to handle, remove skins, and chop into 1-inch chunks (a few remaining tiny bits of skin are perfectly fine). On a large pan, heat a few tbsps of oil over medium-high heat. Add eggplant and 1 tsp salt. Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until eggplant softens significantly and loses a bit of liquid. 

Finely chop onions. Add to pan with eggplant along with garlic, and cook over medium heat for another 15 minutes, or until onions become soft, mixing occasionally. Using a a wooden spoon or spatula, press down on any larger pieces of eggplant to help break them down.

Grate carrots. Add to the pan along with tomato paste, coriander, a few cracks of black pepper, sugar, and hot pepper paste/red pepper flakes. Cook for another 10 minutes.

Remove the blackest bits of skin from the red pepper and add it to a blender or food processor along with parsley. Pulse 5-10 times, or until you get the consistency of a salsa. Add to the pan and cook for another 10 minutes over medium heat. 

Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove from heat and enjoy hot or cold!

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Healthy Vegan Pea, Bean and Flax Spread (Breakfast or Snack)

If you are looking for an easy vegan breakfast option that is rich in fiber and protein, try this green pea, bean, and flax seed spread, which looks a lot like British mushy peas or avocado toast! This is budget friendly because the main ingredients are canned beans ($0.75 – $1.50) and frozen green peas ($0.79- $2.00 per 8oz). Just make sure your canned beans don’t have anything added other than water or salt.

Simply take a few minutes to make a batch, and have a container ready for the week. Pair this with a whole grain bread and voila, breakfast is served!

You can use these ingredients as a base and get creative with the flavors, additions, or toppings! Other ingredients could include garlic, nuts, nutritional yeast, red pepper flakes or lemon juice. You can top toast with things like smoked paprika, coarse salt, more flax seeds, fresh herbs, or really anything 🙂

Btw, flax seed has been having a moment as a super food, but are there any other Poles who have memories of drinking ground flax seed with hot water to cure numerous ailments in their youth? Or was that just me? I still enjoy flax seeds despite those experiences…anyway, hope you enjoy this.

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Pierogi with Sauerkraut and Mushroom (Pierogi z Kapustą i Pieczarkami)

I gave the spiel on pierogi in my potato and cheese potato and cheese filling post. This recipe is for the popular sauerkraut and mushroom filling. If you are having trouble finding dried mushrooms or if they are too expensive in stores near you, just use fresh mushrooms! Some recipes call for 1 shredded and sautéed carrot…that would be a great addition if you’d like.

Pssst…you can make this recipe vegan if make a dough with flour, water, and salt (start 3:1 ratio flour to water) and adjust as necessary).***

Reminder that once pierogi are assembled, you can refrigerate them and cook them the next day, or you can freeze them for a few weeks.

This make about 3-4 dozen pierogi. Continue reading