Babaganoush with Fresh Herbs and Pomegranate

Sadly, this fall brought massive and destructive wildfires to the Golden State, our skies here in Northern California were blanketed with heavy, thick, dense smoke for weeks. The air quality was terrible 24/7, for days on end, causing many folks to experience headaches and respiratory symptoms, myself included. I started to wonder about the impact of ongoing exposure to particulate matter, and the levels of oxidative stress being generated from inhaling smoke from burning natural and man made materials. More than ever it made sense to replenish the body with fat and water soluble anti-oxidants, plus other key nutrients needed to produce and re-cycle glutathione, our main intra-cellular antioxidant molecule. This recipe was born in tasty response …high ORAC pomegranate and herbs, methylation supportive B’s and folate from tahini and garlic, and the unique addition of the soothing, respiratory specific, herbs thyme and mint all joined hands to make this very delicious dip. True culinary medicine!

Babaganoush with Herbs and Fresh Pomegranate

Makes 2 cups

1 large eggplant roasted and peeled

3 Tablespoons tahini

2½ Tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses ** see note

1 clove fresh garlic, pressed

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ cup tightly packed fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup fresh pomegranate seeds

1-2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a fork to poke the eggplant in several places and place it, uncovered, in a baking dish. Roast until tender and completely soft, about 30-35 minutes.

When eggplant is cool enough to handle, slice off the stem end and peel. Place the cooked eggplant into the bowl of a food processor and pulse it a few times so it breaks up.

Add the tahini, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, garlic, cumin, salt, and cinnamon. Process until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Taste and see if a bit more lemon juice, salt, or pomegranate molasses is needed.

Add the chopped mint, thyme, and lemon zest and pulse until well combined. Stir in 3 Tablespoons of the pomegranate seeds the garnish the top with some olive oil, the rest of the pomegranate seeds, and optional sesame seeds.

Catherine McConkie 2018, all rights reserved

Chef C’s Cooking Tips:

  • Substitute ½ teaspoon maple syrup, date syrup, or raw honey if you don’t have pomegranate molasses
  • You can also roast the eggplant on a piece of foil to save yourself some cleanup
  • No food processor? No problem. Just make sure that eggplant it nice and soft and use a potato masher or fork instead.




Tomato Red Pepper Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a quintessential soup for the dog days of summer. For me, sipping a big bowlful is an enjoyable and tasty way to stay hydrated and get loads of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients at the same time.  Serves 8

1 ½ – 2 cups tomato juice or tomato juice blend, low sodium if possible

6 medium ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered

2 small red bell peppers, roughly chopped [about 2 ½ cups]

4 medium or 2 large stalks celery, roughly chopped [about 1 ½ cups]

1 medium organic and un-waxed cucumber with skin, roughly chopped [see note below]

1 small zucchini, roughly chopped [about 1 cup]

¼ cup roughly chopped red onion

¼ – 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 Tablespoons capers

1 Tablespoon roughly chopped fresh jalapeno

1 large clove fresh garlic

1 teaspoon sea salt [decrease amount to ½ teaspoon if not using low sodium tomato juice]

½ teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

1 ½ – 2 teaspoons lemon juice

¼ cup roughly chopped fresh basil

¼ cup roughly chopped fresh Italian parsley

½ – 1 teaspoon maple syrup

Place the tomato juice, tomatoes, red peppers, celery, cucumber, zucchini, onion, olive oil, capers, jalapeno, garlic, salt, and dried oregano into the blender container. Blend on high until vegetables are fully broken down and soup is very smooth. Add the sherry vinegar, lemon juice, fresh basil, parsley, and ½ teaspoon of maple syrup.

Blend on high for another 30-45 seconds or until basil and parsley are finely chopped and well incorporated. Taste and see if an additional pinch of salt, sherry vinegar, or maple syrup is needed for brightness and balance. Serve chilled.

Catherine McConkie 2017, all rights reserved

Chef C’s cooking tips:

  • Season, age at harvest, growing and storage conditions all impact the sweetness, “juicy” factor and taste of fresh produce. Have confidence tinkering with the amounts of lemon juice, sherry vinegar, salt, oil, and maple syrup needed in order to make your taste buds come alive.
  • Variation: for a more chunky texture stir in some diced celery or cucumber, chopped green olives, or crumbled croutons before serving
  • Cucumber with it’s skin will add extra nutrients and fiber to any dish but they are consistently on EWG’s dirty dozen list for high pesticide residue. Lightly peel the cuke if organic and/or unwaxed product isn’t available


Avocado Toast with Egg

A favorite breakfast or snack of mine is avocado on whole grain toast. Much of the time it gets topped with scrambled egg to which I’ve added shredded cabbage, scallion and a drizzle of sriracha. But diced pepper, zucchini, kale, almost any veggie and/or fresh herb works. Best thing is it takes less than 5 minutes to make. This picture is one of my uber fast home versions with egg and baby spinach. 

And… life happens. When I find myself in a bigger than ever, gotta get out the door NOW kind of hurry I just make the toast and schmear on the avocado, wrap that up, grab a handful of baby spinach or arugula, my portable sea salt and black pepper container thingie and a hard boiled egg. Later on the greens go down and the egg is sliced on top.

Either way it’s made avocado toast with egg is a delicious, sustaining, and nutritious treat!

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