It’s a Two-fer!

I always forget how much I love eggplant until I eat it.  Then I wonder why I don’t eat it more often. 

There are a few good reasons: eggplant is best in the summer; from the farmers market or your own garden.  It’s uber-delicate, and gets bruised at the slightest bump, or even a harsh word directed its way.  And cooking it’s usually a complicated, messy pain in the keister.   

This week marks the final week of the Local Dish series with two delicious recipes made from NC products. 

First up is a delicious soup with a deceptively fancy name.  The eggplant dish, we’ll get back to.

Le’CHOP Soup 

Servings: 4

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

2 Tbsp. avocado oil

1 leek, light green and white parts, finely chopped

1 cup swiss chard stems, finely chopped

1 habanero pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 sweet yellow onion, finely chopped

4 cups chicken stock, divided

1 potato, diced

1 cup buttermilk

1 Tbsp. onion powder

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

In Dutch oven, heat avocado oil on medium-high heat, then add leek and swiss chard. Cook for 3 minutes until softened. Add habanero and onion and cook until onion’s translucent. Move contents to a bowl.

With Dutch oven still hot, deglaze with ½ cup chicken stock. Add remaining chicken stock and bring to light boil and add potatoes. Cook for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in onion and garlic powder. Add cooked vegetable mixture back into Dutch oven and simmer for one minute. Remove from heat.

Pour half of mixture into a food processor, blend and pour into bowl. Add remaining vegetable mixture to food processor and blend slowly, while adding buttermilk. Pour back into Dutch oven, add salt and pepper, stir then heat on low to warm back up. Or use submersible blender.

Garnish with chives and small dollop of sour cream.

Lisa’s Notes: This is a great way to use leeks and chard. If you aren’t a fan of the heat, leave out the habanero or try a jalapeno. The stems can be a little bitter so try using the leaves instead. We liked leaving some potatoes chunky when blending. Domino Ireland won first place with this delicious soup in the NC Vegetable Growers Contest at the NC State Fair.

And, finally, the eggplant.  This is the easiest to make eggplant recipe I’ve had the pleasure to eat.  It’s also the most forgiving.  It’s cut into cubes and roasted, so it doesn’t need to be perfect, blemish-free, straight from the garden eggplant.  You could make this in the middle of February and the dish would be just as tasty as mid-August.

Debbie’s notes: If you enjoy them, capers are a terrific addition.  The briny Mediterranean flavor is perfect with this recipe.  And when cold, the dish makes for a perfect bruschetta.  

Roasted Eggplant

1 Eggplant, diced ¼”-1/2” thick with skin on

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 Tbsp. kalamata olives, sliced

2 Tbsp. green olives sliced

2 Tbsp. Feta, crumbled

1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. In medium size bowl, combine eggplant, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour onto baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes.

Once done, return to bowl and toss with remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Lisa’s Notes: The dish can be enjoyed hot or room temperature.

I hope you enjoyed my adventures with television.

I’ll be back next week with the best dish I’ve invented in years.  And it’s made with only things I had on-hand. 

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at

If you don’t know the words, hummus along

All in all, it was your basic, normal family day at the mall.Well, normal for us (we’re the ones that put the ‘fun’ in dysfunction).

Every six weeks or so, my folks come from Greensboro, and Petey, The Kid and I meet them at the mall—usually The Streets at Southpointe.  We wander around, grab some lunch, and do some shopping.

My mom and I gravitate toward Sephora for our mutual quest of the unlined, luminous skin of a toddler, and my own private mission to locate the one mascara which will give me lashes that rival the luxurious flamboyance of a Kardashian.

As for the nerd that is The Kid, any store that sells any Poindexter paraphernalia contains a homing beacon that draws my child like an ant to a melted popsicle.  If the window displays time lords, star ships, or muscle-bound men wearing their underwear on the outside; The Kid’s there.

Wil Wheaton, a member of the Nerdsville royal court.

My dad and Petey are normally on the hunt for a bench that will contain them both, as well as the bags and parcels which Mom, The Kid and I mound around them, like gifts around slightly wilted Christmas trees.

We decided this time we’d mix things up a bit and go to Crabtree.

Plans were made, logistics were worked out and we awaited Saturday.

Saturday morning The Kid called them when we arrived at the mall so they could meet us.  When my child was on the phone, I had a strange thought.  “Make sure they’re at Crabtree too.”Nope.

Somehow, despite the phone calls firming plans, the location information had been lost somewhere between my lips and my mother’s ears.  They were in Durham.

Somebody was going to have to change locations.

The Kid and I really should have gone to them.  But we couldn’t.  Luckily my folks are awesome, and they came to us.

The reason we couldn’t leave resides in Crabtree’s food court.  Not only is this restaurant one of our favorite food court eateries, Kabobi is one our favorite places to eat anywhere.

It’s simply the best Mediterranean I’ve ever eaten.  If you had a Lebanese grandmother you’d hope she could cook like this.  Everything is fresh, and really tasty.  Their lemon chicken is never dry, the fried eggplant is never greasy, and the lentils and rice are what all lentils and rice should strive to be.

If we go to Crabtree, we go to Kabobi.

Thank you, Mr. Sanjar.

It’s not something we do as often as we’d like, though.  So ever since The Kid was small, we’ve made a dish that can take the edge off our Kabobi craving.

Roasted garlic hummushumus1 head of garlic

2 (15-16 ounce) cans chick-peas, drained and rinsed

2/3 cup well mixed tahini

¼ cup fresh lemon juice, or to taste

¼ cup olive oil, + more for drizzling

¼ to ½ cup water, as needed

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked pepper


Toasted pita thins

Roast garlic: Preheat oven to 300.  Cut garlic head in half horizontally.  Drizzle on a little olive oil on cut sides, and season with salt and pepper.  Put halves back together.  Wrap in foil and bake 45 minutes.  When done, remove from oven, unwrap, and let cool.  When cooled, remove cloves from the skins and put into food processor.

In a food processor puree the chick-peas with garlic, tahini, lemon juice, ¼ cup of the oil, and ¼ cup water, scraping down the sides, until the hummus is smooth. Add more water, if necessary, to thin hummus to desired consistency.  Transfer to bowl and season. Drizzle hummus with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika. Serve with warmed pita.Yield: 4 cups

The brightness of the lemon is a great foil for the deep, sweet flavor of the roasted garlic, so adjust the lemon until there’s balance.  And lemon always needs plenty of salt, so don’t be shy.  Just keep tasting it.

Like I said, our trip to the mall was just a normal run-of-the-mill trip for my family.  You could duplicate it yourself, though.  In addition to your family you’re gonna need a full clown car, a six-pack of monkeys, ten or twelve preschoolers high on jelly beans, and a pair of cantankerous pack mules.


Thanks for your time.