Miso & herb glazed eggplant
From Emma D’Alessandro

Santa Monica is home to many lifestyles and specialized diets.

Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo, Pescatarian, Gluten Free, low carb, reduced sugar, raw or just picky: somewhere in the city, there’s a holiday meal suitable for every appetite and just because you’re not eating a turkey or buttered mashed potatoes doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate with a festive, satisfying meal
Recipe Developer and Healthy Living Guide Emma D’Alessandro said a bounty of options are available direct from the market’s vendors.

“Eating whole foods and making healthy recipes that taste delicious should be fun and rewarding,” she said. “Nature gives us the most beautiful art and it’s up to use it as our medium to create our life’s art.

I believe in quality ingredients and making conscious decisions to buy the most sustainable and local ingredients available.”

She grew up in an Italian family that always had an eggplant dish on the holiday table so she drew inspiration from her family roots for a simple dish that will fit all types of eaters.

“Eggplant is a very familiar ingredient to me and reminds me of those dinners at the dining room table with the extended family,” said D’Alessandro.

“I love tradition, but also enjoy experimenting and creating new traditions to share with my own family. Plus, I love the pops of color that represent that happiness that the holidays can bring.”

With flecks of green from the fresh herbs and some crimson sparkle from the pomegranates, she said the dish hits some traditional Christmas colors while staying true to the seasonal ingredients available during the cold months.

“The autumn and early winter bounty gift us tons of hearty produce for the winter months, which often make an appearance on our holiday dinner table, including my favorite, apple pie,” she said.

Those apples are also an important touchstone for her holiday memories.

“I used to take my much younger sisters to a local farm where we would pick pumpkins, apples, and go on hayrides,” she said. “It was so much fun to be silly with them.”

D’Alessandro’s family utilizes a potluck system for their holiday meals and over the years, individuals have earned a reputation for specific dishes.

“My mom is an excellent baker and made her famous butterhorn cookies every holiday season. She used to hide them in the basement so we didn’t eat them all before holiday dinners,” said D’Alessandro.

As an East Coast transplant, she still has fond memories of the cold weather but she’s learned to appreciate the benefits of a Southern California holiday.

“I miss the autumn colors and the crisp nights of the East Coast, but I do love the warm, sunny days. I can always go to the mountains to get my fill of snow, without having to defrost my windows at 630 a.m. on my way to work or worry about driving in poor conditions. I’m a fan!”

Emma D’Alessandro writes a blog, https://www.cravingnature.com.

Miso & herb glazed eggplant + vegan creamy cashew dressing
The perfect side dish addition to your vegan friendly holiday meal.
2 globe eggplant, halved
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. red miso (sub with balsamic vinegar)
2 tsp. coconut aminos (sub soy sauce)
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. honey or maple syrup
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
S & P
2 tbsp. chopped mint
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
1/4 c. pomegranate arils

Preheat oven to 375˚F.

Score the eggplant diagonally, but be sure not to cut all the way through to the bottom.
Place into a baking dish.
In a small bowl, combine olive oil, miso, aminos, vinegar, honey, and red pepper flakes.

Using a brush or spoon coat the eggplant halves with the glaze. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.

Roast the eggplant in the oven for 25 minutes, or until tender.

Remove from the oven and top with mint, parsley, and pomegranate. Drizzle with creamy cashew dressing. (See recipe below)
Creamy cashew dressing
1/2 c. raw cashews
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 tbsp. coconut aminos (soy sauce works fine)
1 tsp. minced ginger
S & P to taste
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Serve immediately or store in a glass jar or bottle in the fridge.