I am one of those people who gets excited to go to the grocery store. I have been known to turn on Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” and have it play in my ears as my soundtrack while I venture down each aisle taking in everything the shelves have to offer. I especially love it when the grocer stocks something new, and from a different country, I cannot contain myself, and I buy it because, hey, it’s new, it’s different and why not?
Trying different things from different countries is my literal jam. I even subscribe to an international snack subscription box, and my kids and I love trying and rating the different snacks each month. We have found so many new favorites by stepping outside our comfort zone.
The expansion of the international aisle in the grocery store has been blowing my mind recently with so many options for us to take home and try. You cannot even begin to imagine the level of excitement I have when something new pops up—ohhhh shiny! Not only does my happiness come from finding new things, but it also comes from being able to take my time in the produce section, making sure I pick the best fruits and veggies to bring home to my family. I can seriously spend 30 minutes alone in the produce section looking at everything and thinking of the amazing food I can make using the different fruits and vegetables. The upcoming week’s dinners can literally change in 1.4 seconds, depending on what I see in the store. To my shopping list, I am far from loyal.
I am always watching videos of foods from different parts of the world, and it is so amazing how each region, country or city can take certain fruits and vegetables and use them in a way I would have never imagined on my own. I will see something and head to the store to gather everything I need to make it just so I can try it at home.
One of my favorite people to watch goes to different places, and he tries food that, when really good, makes his head lean to the side and kind of swivel while he says, “mmmmmmmm”. When he does that head lean, I know it is some really great eats, and I have to make it happen in my kitchen.
While visiting Lebanon, his head leaned while trying an eggplant and tomato dish. I knew I had to try it. I made a few adjustments, and even though it was a completely meatless dish, my family went gaga over it… did I mention it has eggplant in it–something my crew of bandits absolutely never liked! Imagine my surprise when not one but all of them asked for more.
This dish is so hearty and so filling and just oh so worth it! It has been added to the family recipe book; that is one thing for certain.
1 eggplant (cut into cubes)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 zucchini (sliced)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic (chopped)
½ red onion (diced)
½ chicken bouillon cube
½ cup water
Black pepper to taste
½ tsp dried mint
Salt to taste (the chicken bouillon has sodium, so taste before adding salt into the mix!)
On medium heat, cook onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add in remaining ingredients and cook on lower heat until eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes are soft in texture. Make sure they do not get mushy but soft.
Remove from heat and scoop into pita bread. Serve hot and with yogurt sauce and fresh lemon wedges.
Labneh (Yogurt Sauce)
2 cups Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
Juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp salt (or to taste)
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.