Dining In The Dark
The dead of night. Witching hour. Midnight. … Snack time.
I’ve never read the Twilight series (nor seen any of the three movies). I don’t claim any particular affinity to (or for) vampires and their midnight-loving ilk. It’s just that, sometimes, I just can’t sleep without a good late-night munch. I can’t blame the horror genre for the occasional bout of insomnia. (Although, reading The Amityville Horror at age 11 certainly kept me up a few nights.) Blood and vampires notwithstanding, there are a few healthy snack ideas that are perfect for those after-dinner growlings. Notice I wrote “healthy”. If you don’t want to suddenly find yourself with multiple extra pounds of body weight (and I’m not even talking about the zombie in the closet), you should keep your fingers out of the chips bag. Nutritionists remind us all the time that carrot sticks, broccoli and fruit make the best snacks, and I’m certainly not going to pick an argument with the experts. But, sometimes, in the wee hours of the night (or just before bedtime, as it were), I’m craving something filling and flavourful.
The words healthy, snack and late-night don’t have to be at odds with each other. I’ve discovered some fabulous flavour combinations that really fit the bill. Here’s the key: combine the right blend of low-fat, savoury ingredients. I’ve found that you won’t need to eat a lot of it. A bite or three is all it takes to leave you feeling sated. It just comes down to the perfect amount of salt and spice that suits your palate. At this late hour, I’m far past being content eating veggies sprinkled with salt. I need something complex, unctuous. Something that makes me feel like I’ve just eaten a sumptuous three-course meal without the inevitable bloating, heaviness or weight-gain. Here’s my method of getting what I want without the side-effects.
Slow-cook vegetables, like peppers, onion and tomatoes with a few shreds of prosciutto. The combination creates a luscious spread that’s low in fat, low in calories, yet full of flavour and mouthfeel. Spoon a layer of it onto thin, crispy crackers or a slice of sourdough bread. Round it off with a glass of water, or a sip of light and fruity Lambrusco.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large eggplant, cut in half lengthwise
1 red pepper, cut in half
1 onion, cut in half
2 Roma tomatoes, cored and cut in half
2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, shredded
1. Pour 2 tablespoons oil into a large baking sheet. Lay eggplant, red pepper, tomato and onion, cut sides down, in the oil Bake in a 350°F oven until eggplant is very soft, about 40 minutes. Keep an eye on the other vegetables, removing them to a platter as they become caramelized.
2. Remove stems, skins and seeds from all vegetables, except eggplant. Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Place vegetables and prosciutto into a bowl and add vinegar, parsley and remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to blend.
Enjoy warm or cold spread onto a thick slice of sourdough bread.