|Friday Night Tapas: Eggplant Meatballs, Greek Salad Skewers, Baked Brie, Parmesan Chickpeas, Salsa and Guacamole, Gouda Cheese, and Butterfly Shrimp for the non-Vegetarians|
My parents have started a tradition of having their own version of "tapas" every Friday. This week they invited me and Phillip to come out and join them. They graciously agreed to make mostly vegetarian dishes so that Phillip and I would have enough to eat. My mom's menu consisted of Greek salad skewers, salsa and guacamole, a baked brie, and butterfly shrimp for them. I offered to make a couple of things to bring as well and decided on eggplant meatballs, Parmesan roasted chickpeas, and a wedge of Gouda cheese for Phillip (he doesn't like brie).
The chickpeas were super simple. Just drain, rinse and let dry for 15 minutes before tossing them in a mixture of olive oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt and a pinch of cayenne. Then pop them in a 400 degree oven for about an hour. We all really liked the super crunchy chickpeas so I think if I were to make these again I would let them go a little bit longer to make them extra crunchy. These would make a great healthy snack if you are craving something crunchy/salty throughout the day. I copied the blog where I found the recipe and served the chickpeas in the tin they came out of to give a cute homemade touch to the table.
Next up were the "meatballs." I have always found working with eggplant a bit arduous. For this specific recipe you had to peel the eggplant (not an easy task when you are using a cheapo peeler that you have had for 5 years) then dice the eggplant, salt it, and let it sit for an hour in a strainer to get out a majority of the bitter liquid in the eggplant. After letting it sit for an hour I then also squeezed the cubes of eggplants with my hands, as the recipe recommended, to get out as much liquid as possible so that the "meatballs" would not fall apart. Obviously none of this was difficult but still a fair amount of prep to do before even getting started.
While the eggplant was sitting in the strainer, I sauteed the onion and garlic and mixed together the rest of the ingredients. I did not mix them all together in the Cuisinart like the recipe called for, but rather just used my hands. Finally it was time to saute the eggplant itself. After about 15 minutes I put the eggplant into my baby Cuisinart, gave it a quick pulse. I added the eggplant paste into the dry ingredient mixture and then it was good to go. Using a tablespoon created the perfect bite-sized "meatballs." 25 minutes in the oven and they were good to go. We could not get over how delicious the eggplant meatballs were. They were definitely a crowd favorite and we had no leftovers. I would definitely make these again and serve over pasta for a main dish. Delicious. A special thanks to http://midwestveg.com for this great recipe!
The other dishes that my sister, Rachel, prepared were also super simple and delicious. The Greek salad skewers were just half a cherry tomato, a cube of feta cheese, and a piece of cucumber on a toothpick. We put olives on half of them for our parents but neither of us like olives so we left them off of ours. We served the skewers on a platter that was covered in Balsamic Vinegar dressing. For the brie, it was a mixture of apricot preserves, mixed with cran-raisins, diced jalapeno and dried apricots. Rachel sliced the brie horizontal and spread half of the mixture in the middle of the wheel of brie before popping it in the oven until it was melty and gooey. She then put the rest of the apricot mixture on top before serving. I'm not usually a fan of baked brie but this was really tasty.