Unlike most people who eat in restaurants to, well, eat, the main reason we dine out is for to savor ethnic food because we can’t cook it well at home. More specifically, what ethnic foods we can and have made at home are not even close to the really good stuff expert chefs and cooks make in restaurants featuring their native cuisine.
Global Food Cravings
A craving for Thai always gives us the impetus to head to our favorite Thai place. For those of you in San Antonio, we adore Thai Dee on Blanco. Blink and you’ll miss it as you drive south on Blanco past Jackson-Keller, Thai Dee is almost hidden in an itsy bitsy center with a neighboring and graffitied convenient store. We always order the Pad Woodsen with pork and vegetables and the spicy basil eggplant with vegetables. Or if Vietnam Gardens catches your attention at the corner of Jackson-Keller and Blanco, pull in and you won’t be disappointed. Try the Bao Xeo, a Vietnamese crepe and the seafood salad for a light and refreshing meal.
Having lived in Mexico, we frequently crave Mexican food and when we do, we generally high-tail it to our favorite hot spot. La Fiesta Patio Cafe in Universal City is our go-to Tex-Mex, but Taco House is our numero uno breakfast taco haunt where the homemade corn tortillas are superb. Authentic Mexican is hard to find in San Antonio, so we often make do with a simple meal of homemade salsas and fish tacos (the freshest fish from Groomer’s, of course) served on fresh corn tortillas from a nearby Taco Palenque.
Normally, Greek food would also have us jumping in the car, but this time we decided to strike up a Greek feast at home and we nailed it. As long as I can remember, David has been the master Greek salad maker so that was his task. Adding dried oregano to the salad dressing gives an air of credibility to the crisp greens, cucumbers, tomato, black olives, celery and copious amounts of feta.
A Different “Hummus”
But what really stole the show was the roasted zucchini dip. We love hummus, but the beans tend to have harboring effects that our grain-free, legume-free bellies just can’t handle anymore. Somehow this paleo inspired dish came to me while browsing paleo food blogs and the idea struck a chord. I am so glad it arrived just in time to take our Greek meal to the Aphrodite level. The Greek gods would approve.
More like a cousin to baba ganoush than hummus, this dish is stellar and really blew our minds. I had no idea what to expect when I made it, and neither did David. While many zucchini hummus recipes call for using raw zucchini, I decided to roast it under the broiler for a bit to get a nice char which added to the impeccable flavor.
Unlike most recipes that I looked at which cited adding half to 3/4 cup of tahini, that’s where I pulled way back to just 1/4 cup. With a hint of tahini to give it a creamy texture and a nice punch of lemon juice, this is my new favorite summer appetizer. Sprinkle with smoked paprika for a boost of smokiness and color and be sure and drizzle a good olive oil over the top.
Serve with raw vegetables, toasted pitas and pita chips and my guess is your family and/or guests will have no idea what it is, but will be in love at first bite and devour it just like we did. Or go for the full on Greek feast and serve this dip alongside a feta-laden Greek salad.
You’ll feel like Aphrodite (goddess of love, desire and beauty) or Apollo (god of music, healing and medicine). Without the unpleasantries of a traditional garbanzo bean hummus.
Roasted Zucchini Dip
A cousin to baba ganoush, this dip is over the top fantabulous. A totally unexpected delight, it is our new favorite summer appetizer. Lucky for us, zucchini will be in full bloom well through November, though I know we'll move on to new recipes before then. This dip is a mind-blower and a definite keeper. A super paleo friendly appetizer, it was devoured by my carnivorous husband and he is already sorry we didn't get more zucchini at the farmers market this week.
- 2 lbs zucchini I used zucchini and a golden zucchini, which is sweeter, washed, stems removed and sliced 1/4" lengthwise
- 3 cloves garlic peeled
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice plus more if needed
- 1/4 cup organic tahini
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus more for roasting the zucchini and then drizzle more when serving
- Smoked paprika for garnish
Preheat the broiler and place a rack nearest the broiler.
Slice zucchini into 1/4" thick strips lengthwise. Place on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Place the baking sheet on the rack closest to the broiler and let roast until zucchini are charred to your liking. I let mine cook about 10-15 minutes.
While the zucchini are roasting, place the garlic, lemon juice, tahini, salt and pepper in the food processor.
When the zucchini are nice and charred, remove them from the oven and add the zucchini to the food processor.
Puree until well blended. Stop the machine, scrape the sides and drizzle in 3 tablespoons of good extra virgin olive oil. Puree for another 10 seconds and taste. If it needs more salt, lemon juice or oil, add it and blend again briefly.
Then pour the roasted zucchini dip into a bowl. Place the bowl in the refrigerator and let cool for at least 30 minutes. When serving, sprinkle with smoked paprika and drizzle with more good olive oil.
Serve with raw veggies such as sliced cucumbers, broccoli florets, carrots, cherry tomatoes, red pepper strips and/or cauliflower florets as well as toasted pita and even pita chips. A little something for everyone. Or, for a full-blown Greek feast, serve with a Greek salad and let the fun begin.