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Posts tagged “Eggplant

Fairy Tale Tomato, Corn & Bread Salad

with Great Northern Beans & Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Fairy Tale Eggplant, Tomato  and Bread Salad: something's missing ...

Have you ever made something once and thought “it’s good, but it really ought to be better?” Yeah, that’s what happened here. The first time I made it I used a great big eggplant and I tried cooking it on the grill. Except my coals ran out of heat and the eggplant didn’t get properly cooked and it was this awful rubbery texture. I ended up picking all of the eggplant out of my salad that night and just eating the tomatoes with the corn and bread … not that that was a BAD thing, it was quite delightful that way. I just hated wasting the lovely eggplant …

So: take 2. This time I used a couple of my fairy tale eggplant. If you’ve not seen fairy tale eggplant, they are those tiny purple eggplant that look SO adorable because they are about finger sized or a little bigger, maybe half my hand size?  You never have to peel them or salt them because their skins are perfectly tender and they are never bitter. If you’re inexperienced with eggplant, fairy tale eggplant are a good place to start. This time was definitely better … but something was missing … oh my gosh! the corn! I totally forgot the corn. Okay, so I went and grabbed some corn from the freezer, cooked it up and added it … ah! much better!

Fairy Tale Eggplant, Tomato, Corn and Bread Salad

Fairy Tale Tomato, Corn & Bread Salad

Adapted from Williams Sonoma. For one hearty serving or two small “sides”:

  • 2-4 fairy tale eggplant (about 1/2 cup after roasting/chopping)
  • 1 cup fresh garden tomato, chopped into bite-size chunks
  • 1/2 cup cooked white beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup cooked corn, drained
  • 2 slices of sweet onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups toasted whole wheat bread cubes (about 1 inch in size … or smaller … to your liking)
  • A few fresh basil & tarragon leaves
  • A few roasted sunflower seeds
  • Tahini yogurt ranch dressing (recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Slice the fairy tale eggplant lengthwise in 1/2-inch slices. (You can use other eggplant in place of Fairy Tale, but you may need to peel them first.) Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set the eggplant on the baking sheet. Spray them with cooking spray and sprinkle with a bit of salt or Red Robin Seasoning. Roast the eggplant in the oven or toaster oven at 400 for about 10 minutes or until they are tender.
  2. While the eggplant are cooking, chop the tomato and onion and heat the white beans and corn up. Also, set the bread cubes on another oiled baking sheet  and let them toast in the oven for the last few minutes of the eggplant roasting or until the cubes are lightly browned and toasted.
  3. Chop the eggplant into bite-size chunks. In your salad bowl, toss the eggplant, tomato, corn and onion till well mixed. Gently fold in the toasted bread cubes, drizzle with tahini ranch dressing and sprinkle with fresh herbs and sunflower seeds.

Fairy Tale Eggplant, Tomato, Corn and Bread Salad

Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

  • 1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 1 Tablespoon light mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup mixed fresh herbs (I used rosemary, basil, thyme, tarragon, oregano, parsley … dill would be wonderful too, but my dill plant has died off)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more to taste as needed) + freshly ground pepper to taste.

In a handi chopper or food processor, blend all ingredients till the herbs and garlic are well chopped and the mixture is fairly smooth. Taste the dressing and add salt and/or pepper to taste. Store any leftover dressing in a covered container in the fridge.

This recipe was shared at Cast Party WednesdayFriday Favorites and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Curried Red Pepper Aubergine Soup

Fire Roasted Red Pepper Eggplant Thai Curry Soup

I’ve been toying with the idea of making a thai-style curry soup with my aubergines … aubergine, isn’t that a fabulous word? It sounds so fancy and cultured to me. Usually I just use the word “eggplant”, but it doesn’t carry the same elegance that these beautiful purple vegetables really deserve.

Anyway, I came home from yoga class the other night STARVING and decided to begin the creation of the Thai curry soup. Somehow thought this would be a quick thing to do … I started up the grill because I’m really loving the smoky flavor from the grill and set a bunch of lovely vegetables on there for their “fire” roasting. Yes, I really did start up the grill just to roast vegetables. It didn’t take long to roast them … but then I got busy with other things and with the kids.

Hours later (just before bedtime), I finally sat down to enjoy a cup of my curried red pepper aubergine soup. It’s not that the soup really takes that long to make … it’s just that … well, I’m a mom … and I’m easily distracted (look! facebook!) … and my kitchen was already a mess so there was a bit of work to do there too … oh well, it got done eventually and I did get a bowl of soup and now I have a delicious soup I can quickly reheat for lunches this week.

Fire Roasted Red Pepper Eggplant Thai Curry Soup

Curried Red Pepper Aubergine Soup

Yields a little over a quart of soup.

  • 3 good-size Japanese Eggplant (the long skinny dark black purple kind of eggplant … or 1 large globe eggplant) … yielding about a cup of eggplant after roasting (a little more or less is fine)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 hot red pepper (or if you don’t want your soup to be spicy, use a bell pepper in place of the hot pepper)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled, chopped
  • 1/2 of an onion, peeled, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons Thai red curry paste (to taste)
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons brown sugar (or other sweetener of your choice … to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Garnish: plain lowfat yogurt (or Greek yogurt) and fresh parsley or better yet, cilantro!

Directions:

  1. Poke the eggplant all around with a fork. Light up the grill and when the coals are hot, set the eggplant and the peppers right over the hot coals to roast. (A gas grill would work fine too … you COULD even roast them in the oven if you prefer …) Here’s a shot of my eggplant and peppers on the grill. I used these 3 eggplant, the red bell pepper, and one of the hot peppers in this soup. The other two peppers I’m going to put in a salsa (I think …)
    Roasting Eggplant & Peppers on the Grill
  2. You don’t want to burn them, but the skins of the eggplant will turn dark and the pepper skins should turn black. Turn the peppers and eggplant over to make sure you roast all sides. The peppers will be done very quickly. Pull the peppers off the grill and let them cool while you finish cooking the eggplant. Cook the eggplant until it is limp and soft.
  3. The peel on the peppers and the eggplant should come right off after roasting. Pull off the peel, chop off the top stems from the eggplant, and put the “good parts” of the peppers and the eggplant in a blender or handi chopper. Puree them until smooth.
  4. In a saucepan, sautee the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent, soft and starting to brown. Stir in the eggplant/pepper paste and the remaining ingredients. Stir everything together till it’s well mixed, bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes or until the flavors have had time to “meld”.
  5. When the soup is done, puree it in a blender (or use an immersion blender). I’ve heard of people cracking the glass of a glass blender with hot soup, so you might want to let it cool a bit before blending it if you are using a glass blender.
  6. Garnish with a dollop of plain yogurt and a sprig of fresh parsley and serve hot. Store any leftovers in a covered container in the fridge. This soup reheats nicely in the microwave.

Fire Roasted Red Pepper Eggplant Thai Curry Soup

This recipe was shared at Cast Party WednesdayThursday’s TreasuresFoodie Friends FridayFit & Fabulous Friday and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Fairy Tale Purple Pesto

Purple Pesto

My mother grows both green and purple basil every year. This year she gave me a purple basil plant. Mine grew to about 6 inches tall, enough to snip off a couple leaves or sprigs here and there to season a dish. Her basil plant grew to the size of a bush.

If you don’t trim basil plants, they will go to seed and die, having finished their purpose in life. If you trim them, they grow bigger. I went out to trim Mom’s basil plants for her and came in with quite enough basil to make pesto. So I put it in a bag, stuck it in my cooler, brought it home and decided to make purple pesto.

In my box of goodies from the garden, I also had some of these pretty purple Fairy tale eggplant, and since it IS purple, I thought that would be lovely in the pesto. As I was blending up the pesto, it was a bit too thick, so I was looking for a liquid to thin it so that I didn’t have to add too much oil (I want my pesto to be lower in fat too!) and wouldn’t ruin the color. It just so happens I had a bottle of red wine sitting there, so I added a bit of wine too.

I’m freezing my purple pesto for safe keeping. I have plans in my mind to make purple pizzas and purple pasta, purple pesto salad dressings and purple pesto potatoes.

Have I mentioned that my favorite color is purple?

Fairy tale Purple Pesto

Purple Pesto

  • 6 cups of purple basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup pinons (pine nuts)
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1 cup shredded asiago cheese
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 small fairy tale eggplant, roasted (or 1/2 cup of a larger eggplant)
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine

Slice the eggplant lengthwise, set it on a baking sheet and roast it in the oven (or toaster oven) at 350 for about 10 minutes or until it’s tender. Cut it up into chunks and measure it. You should have about 1/2 cup of eggplant.

In a blender or food processor, blend up all the ingredients until you have a fine puree. Whatever you are not going to use immediately, freeze in small containers or ice cube trays.

Use this purple pesto just like you would any other pesto: mix with some pasta water and toss with pasta, spread it on pizza or sandwiches or little toasts.

Fairy Tale Purple Pesto

This recipe was shared at Talent Show Tuesday and Cast Party Wednesday.


Eggplant Parmesan Layer Dip

Eggplant Parmesan Dip

I had a big beautiful purple eggplant that was starting to fade, so I had to find a good use for it fast. I decided to make it into a dip … at first I was going to make some more baba ghanoush, but then I thought perhaps I could make something different with it … perhaps something with the flavors of Eggplant Parmesan … except creamier. Something you could spread on little toasts and munch on with a good glass of wine.

Eggplant Parmesan Dip

We finished the A-Z Health Challenge on facebook on Saturday … I still need to make my way through all the Zucchini recipes everyone shared, but I was busy with my Mom and Dad’s Anniversary party this weekend. The party turned out well, but I’m exhausted. I need a day off. How nice that we have a holiday today so I have a day just to rest. Although I won’t really be resting. We’ll be harvesting tomatoes and other garden bounty, packing and driving and unpacking, assembling my new chairs that my aunt and uncle brought up for me.

Eggplant Parmesan Dip

Eggplant Parmesan Layer Dip

  • 2 1/2 cups roasted eggplant (I used 1 large globe + 1 small Japanese eggplant)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup fat free greek yogurt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Your favorite marinara or pasta sauce (I used my crock pot garden marinara sauce)
  • Shredded asiago (or parmesan) and mozzarella cheese (maybe a cup of the two cheeses, mixed? I didn’t measure the cheese … use enough to cover the sauce)
  • Fresh garden tomato, chopped fine
  • Fresh herbs for garnish
  • Thin slices of toasted ciabatta or french bread

Directions:

  1. To roast the eggplant on the grill, poke the pretty purple fruit all around with a fork, then grill on a hot grill until the outside is black and charred and the eggplant is sagging a LOT … that means it’s fully cooked.
  2. Pull off the peel and discard, then chop the pulp roughly and measure it. You will need about 2 1/2 cups for this dip (or you can scale down the other ingredients to match the amount of eggplant you have). Put the eggplant, garlic, herbs, and cream cheese in a food processor or handi chopper and blend till smooth. I had to do this in batches because my handi chopper wasn’t big enough to hold it all! Pour the creamy mixture into a bowl and stir in the greek yogurt, then add salt to taste.
  3. You can serve the dip in individual ramekins or in a larger pie or tart pan. Smear a good thick layer of the creamy eggplant mixture on the bottom of the dish, cover with a layer of marinara or pasta sauce, then top with shredded cheese and some chopped tomato on top. Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with thinly sliced toasted ciabatta or french bread.

Eggplant Parmesan Dip

This recipe was shared at Weekend PotluckMelt in your Mouth Monday, Manic MondayTalent Show TuesdayTrick or Treat Tuesday, Newlyweds Recipe Linky, Cast Party WednesdayThursday’s Treasures and Fit & Fabulous Friday.


Baba Crostini

Baba Crostini

This is a super simple, but super fun and delicious recipe. You can make this up as a big sandwich if you like too, using a bun or a ciabatta roll instead of the toasts. I did that for lunch one day with ciabatta and totally loved it. I was originally going to post this recipe as a sandwich … but I do so love little toasts.

Baba Crostini

The smoked Havarti cheese was a gift to me from Dofino Cheese. I have always loved their Havarti, but I really really love  their smoked Havarti. The tomatoes and the eggplant for the baba ghanoush were from my mom’s garden.

Baba Crostini

I’m not giving amounts here because you can make a few up for a snack (like I did!), or a bunch for a crowd … whatever suits you!

  • Ciabatta bread, sliced thin and lightly toasted
  • Baba Ghanoush (It’s easy to make! … here’s my recipe for Baba Ghanoush)
  • Smoked Havarti cheese, sliced
  • Slices of fresh garden tomato, cut to match the size of the bread slices
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish

Spread the ciabatta toast slices with a thick layer of baba ghanoush, top each with a slice of havarti, and set on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 F. for 5 – 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Top each crostini with a slice of fresh tomato and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.

Baba Crostini

This recipe was shared at Melt in your Mouth MondayManic MondayTrick or Treat Tuesday and Thursday’s Treasures.


Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Eggplant Tarragon Cream

and a Mushroom Cherry Tomato Quinoa Pilaf

Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Eggplant Tarragon Cream

Ever since I made Baba Ghanoush, I’ve been wondering: what else could you do with eggplant puree? And then I picked up these HUGE chicken breasts at the store and was marinading them in buttermilk for my daughter and I for dinner … and it occurred to me that these babies would be really good stuffed with something wonderful and creamy. Eggplant puree, with cream cheese! and fresh tarragon and basil! Ah yes! How wonderful would THAT be?

Um yeah, completely wonderful … especially when you serve it over a pilaf of nutty quinoa with garlicky sauteed mushrooms and fresh garden cherry tomatoes.

Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Eggplant Tarragon Cream

Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Eggplant Tarragon Cream

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Marinade: buttermilk + seasonings

Eggplant Tarragon Cream Filling:

  • 3/4 cup chopped roasted (or grilled) eggplant
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 oz light cream cheese
  • About 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped mixed basil & tarragon leaves

Directions:

  1. Put the chicken breasts in a bowl and add enough buttermilk to cover them completely. Add seasonings as you like: I added a couple teaspoons of Mrs. Dash and a couple teaspoons of a basic rub seasoning I like to use. Let the chicken marinade in the buttermilk for at least an hour … I left mine in there overnight.
  2. To cook the eggplant, I took a couple of the little purple tender eggplant from mom’s garden, sliced them lengthwise, sprayed them with cooking spray and set on a baking sheet that I’d sprayed with cooking spray. (If you’re using a larger eggplant, you probably want to peel it and slice into 1/4 inch slices.) Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant is soft and tender. Chop the eggplant roughly and toss them into a handi chopper with a couple cloves of garlic, the cream cheese and some fresh tarragon and basil leaves. Pulse to mix it all well and make a good creamy filling.
  3. Now, take the chicken breasts and slice into them horizontally with a small knife, not cutting all the way through so you make a little pocket in each chicken breast. Fill each pocket with half the filling, then close the open end with a toothpick.
  4. Heat up your grill and sear both sides of the chicken breasts on the hot part of the grill, then move them to the cooler part of the grill to cook until they are cooked through.
  5. Serve over a bed of the mushroom cherry tomato quinoa pilaf (recipe below), garnished with a few fresh basil or tarragon leaves.

Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Eggplant Tarragon Cream

Mushroom Cherry Tomato Quinoa Pilaf

  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup of mushrooms sauteed with red wine, garlic, and bruschetta seasoning (see my Chardonnay Mushrooms recipe for instructions)
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • Roasted sunflower seeds

Sautee the mushrooms with a couple cloves of garlic and a splash of red wine like I did with my Chardonnay Mushrooms. Add the hot, cooked quinoa, then the cherry tomatoes and stir gently to mix. Cook for just a few minutes to let the cherry tomatoes heat up. Serve the pilaf sprinkled with a couple tablespoons of sunflower seeds for a nice salty crunch.

This recipe was shared at Cast Party Wednesday, Weekend Potluck1 Month of Fun and Talent Show Tuesday.


Tomato Eggplant Ricotta Tart

Tomato Eggplant Ricotta Tart

I dreamed of this tart for days but I was too busy to make it … I could picture it in my mind: a lovely summer tart filled with garlic and herb-infused Ricotta and Asiago cheeses, topped with rows of beautifully overlapping garden fresh tomato and tender little purple eggplant slices. Finally I could not stand it any longer. I had to make it. It was nearing twilight, so I rushed to finish it in time to have enough light to photograph it. I was using these lovely little purple eggplant from mom’s garden and some of those little tomatoes that pretty perfectly matched the diameter of the eggplant.

Purple eggplant for the Tomato Eggplant Ricotta Tart

It turned out beautiful …  but the cornmeal crust I had thought would be so good was just awful (re-confirming my irrational fear of pie crust). It looked perfectly lovely … I tried eating it, but ended up eating the topping and leaving the crust … I stuck the tart in the fridge overnight while I considered what to do … the next night I went and bought some puff pastry at the store, scraped the topping off the old crust, roasted some more eggplant and re-made the tart, again rushing to beat the impending darkness. This time, it turned out MUCH better, taste-wise, but not quite as pretty. I had used up all the tomatoes that matched the size of the eggplant so I couldn’t get that perfect layered effect. I used one of the darker Japanese eggplant in hopes that it would match the size of the larger tomatoes, but it didn’t at all. And this tart was square, not round. I don’t think I allowed the puff pastry enough time to thaw because the crust really wasn’t as puffy as it should have been. But despite all that, it tasted oh so wonderful. Almost as good as my dream tart.

Tomato Eggplant Ricotta Tart

Tomato Eggplant Ricotta Tart

Crust:

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (or a pie crust would work if you are not afraid of such things like me)

Topping:

  • About 2 small, tender eggplant
  • Several small tomatoes (with a diameter that roughly matches the eggplant)

Filling:

  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded asiago cheese + a few extra tablespoons for the top
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • Several sprigs of fresh tarragon and basil, chopped

Directions:

  1. Thaw your puff pastry or prepare the pie crust.
  2. Slice the eggplant thinly (about 1/8 inch thick) and place on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and dust with Red Robin Seasoning or your favorite seasoned salt. Bake eggplant at 350 for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant slices are tender. (These little tender eggplant don’t require any peeling or salting.)
  3. While the eggplant is cooking, slice the tomatoes thinly and set them aside.
  4. Mix the ricotta, asiago, garlic and about half of the chopped herbs.
  5. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay out the puff pastry (or place the pie crust in your tart pan). Spread the ricotta filling almost to the edge of the crust, then arrange alternating layers of the eggplant and tomato slices on top. If you are using puff pastry, roll up the edge of the pastry just a bit and pinch the corners. Sprinkle with a little asiago cheese and bake at 400 for 20 minutes or so or until the pastry has browned on the edges and the cheese is all melted.
  6. Sprinkle with the rest of the fresh herbs. Slice and serve immediately.

Tomato Eggplant Ricotta Tart

This recipe was shared with Weekend PotluckScrumptious Sunday, Manic MondayTotally Tasty Tuesday, and Cast Party Wednesday.


Baba Ghanoush: a smoky, wonderful dip

Baba Ghanoush: a creamy wonderful garlic eggplant dip

If you have never had Baba Ghanoush, you should try it. It’s a creamy, garlicky, silky smooth dip somewhat akin to hummus in flavor, but lighter and smoky tasting and oh so wonderful. It’s made of eggplant, but if someone didn’t tell you it was made of eggplant, you would never guess.

I used the smaller, thinner long skinny Japanese eggplant for this Baba Ghanoush. If you use the larger, globe-style eggplant, you will want to adjust the other ingredients because you’ll end up with more pulp. After grilling your eggplant, measure the pulp and multiply the rest of the ingredients by the number of cups of eggplant you have.

Baba Ghanoush: a creamy, smoky wonderful dip

Baba Ghanoush

  • 3 Japanese eggplant (yielding about 1 cup of pulp after roasting)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon tahini
  • 1/2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 hot chili pepper (optional … baba ghanoush doesn’t usually have hot pepper in it, but I roasted these beautiful hot peppers last night and thought it would be a good addition … and it IS! I love the kick it adds to the dip!)
  • Fresh parsley
  • Salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. To get the smoky flavor, you need to grill the eggplant, so start up your grill and if it’s one of those gas grills, throw some rosemary or apple wood chips or something like that on the coals to make a good smoke. Poke your eggplant all over with a fork and set it on the hot grill and roast it for quite a while … until the skin is charred and dark on all sides and the eggplant has gone totally limp and cooked down. Let it set for a few minutes to cool down enough to touch it, then pull off the peel, saving the soft wonderful roasted interior. It might not be the prettiest thing to look at at this point, but don’t worry. It will taste wonderful!
  2. If you are lucky enough to have a hot chili pepper around, roast that on the hot grill too till the skin is black and charred and bubbly on both sides (this won’t take long! only a few minutes on each side), then pull the peel off of the pepper. It should slip right off.
  3. In a food processor or handi chopper, add the roasted peeled eggplant, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, the peeled chili pepper and the parsley and blend until the dip is totally smooth and silky. Add salt to taste. Serve at room temperature (or a little warmer) with little toasts or crackers or vegies for dipping. Baba Ghanoush also makes a great sandwich spread and goes very well in a wrap too.

Baba Ghanoush: a creamy, smoky wonderful dip

This recipe was shared at Tastetastic ThursdayFoodie Friends FridayFit & Fabulous Friday, and Totally Tasty Tuesday.


Creamy Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Soup

Creamy Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Soup

The color of this soup turned out a little funny since I used yellow tomatoes … I think with red tomatoes it would be a much prettier orangey color. But the flavor is very delicate and earthy all in one. I loved how the cream made swirls in the soup when I added it–that didn’t quite come through in the pictures either. So just trust me that it was lovely, okay?

Creamy Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Soup

Creamy Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Soup

Adapted from this recipe on Food.com

Ingredients:

  • About 1/2 of a medium eggplant (1 c. after roasted peeled & chopped)
  • 3 – 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 of a large red (or white or yellow) onion, chopped
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped (about 1 c.) — or 1 c. canned tomatoes with juices
  • 1/2 T. fresh thyme or 1/2 t. dried
  • A few “leaves” of fresh chopped rosemary
  • 2 c. chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 c. fat free half and half
  • Goat cheese crumbles

Directions:

  1. To roast the vegies: Preheat oven to 400°F. Place eggplant slices, onion and garlic on large baking sheet. Brush vegetables with oil. Roast until vegetables are tender and brown in spots, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and chop into hunks.
  2. Meanwhile, peel the tomatoes by dipping them briefly in boiling water, then pulling the peel off. (It should pull off very easily.)
  3. Add the tomatoes (with juices!), roasted vegetables, thyme, and rosemary to a saucepan.
  4. Add the broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook until onion is very tender, about 30 – 45 minutes. Cool slightly.
  5. Puree the soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to saucepan.
  6.  Stir in fat free half and half. Bring to simmer.
  7. Season soup with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls.
  8. Sprinkle with goat cheese; serve.
Creamy Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Soup

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Pacific Natural Foods in your blog post.

This recipe was shared at Katherine Martinelli’s Eggplant Bloghop.


Herbed Harvest Vegetable, Bacon, & Goat Cheese Quiche

… with the simplest crust EVER … (and it’s healthy too!)

Herbed Harvest Vegetable, Bacon, and Goat Cheese Quiche

Have I mentioned that I am terrible at pie crusts? I hate making them … they always turn out ugly. Not at all light and flaky like dad’s crusts. And anyway they are NOT good for you.

One day many, many years ago I wanted to make a quiche, but I didn’t want to bother with a crust, and I really didn’t want to have to go to the store and buy one of those pre-made ones, but I thought: why not use a tortilla? That just might work …

And it did. It makes a lovely ruffled edge without you even having to mess with it. (I can’t do the edges very pretty on pie crusts either …) The only trick is you have to find a tortilla big enough and a pie pan small enough so the tortilla can make a good edge to hold in all the good stuff in the quiche.

By the way, you can use this tortilla crust for pies that only require one crust, too. Pumpkin pie does very well in a tortilla crust. I’ve not tried apple yet, but I think a dutch apple pie with streusel topping would be fantastic in a tortilla crust.

Herbed Harvest Vegetable, Bacon and Goat Cheese Quiche with the Simplest Crust ever

Herbed Harvest Vegatable, Bacon & Goat Cheese Quiche

Ingredients:

  • 1 large tortilla (the biggest, healthiest tortilla you can find)
  • 1 c. peeled and chopped eggplant
  • 1 small potato, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 c.)
  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. chopped zucchini or summer squash
  • 1/4 c. chopped red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 small tomatoes
  • 2 slices lower-fat bacon, cooked crisp, drained on a clean towel, then crumbled (or chopped)
  • About 1/3 c. shredded swiss cheese
  • About 1 oz. goat cheese crumbles
  • Fresh oregano, rosemary, and basil leaves
  • 3 eggs ( or 3/4 c. eggbeaters)
  • 1/4 c. buttermilk
  • 1/2 c. fat free half and half (or milk)
  • 1/2 t. Red Robin Seasoning
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • A few red onion slices

Directions:

Find a pie pan that fits your tortilla. You will probably have to go with a smaller pie pan in order to get a good edge. Spray the pie pan with cooking spray, and pat down the tortilla so the bottom is flat and it makes a good edge to hold the quiche.

Herbed Harvest Vegetable, Bacon and Goat Cheese Quiche

Put the eggplant and potato in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave about 30 seconds or until the vegies are slightly soft.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the tomatoes. Set several pretty slices aside for the top of the quiche and chop the rest.

Warm a saucepan over medium to medium high heat, spray lightly with cooking spray, then swirl around the olive oil to roughly coat the bottom of the pan. Add the eggplant, potato, zucchini, onion, and garlic and sautee until the onions are translucent and all the vegies are cooked through. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook a few more minutes.

Spread the vegies across the bottom of the tortilla crust, then sprinkle with bacon, then the swiss and goat cheeses.

Herbed Harvest Vegetable, Bacon, and Goat Cheese Quiche

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and half and half (or milk), Red Robin seasoning and freshly ground pepper until frothy. Pour the egg mixture over the vegies, bacon and cheese in the quiche.

Arrange the tomatoes and a few red onion slices on the top, then bake at 350 degrees for about 35 – 40 minutes or until the quiche is set. Let the quiche sit for about 10 minutes before you cut it.

Herbed Harvest Vegetable, Bacon and Goat Cheese Quiche with the Simplest Crust ever


Ratatouille with Ravioli

Ratatouille Ravioli

A while ago I gave my sweet friend Camille some eggplant and she told me she made Ratatouille Pasta with it. She showed me the recipes she used, and described how she did it and I filed that thought away for a day when I had eggplant and a little time to cook it. I don’t recall what type of pasta she said she used, but I thought this mini-ravioli that I have would be just perfect with Ratatouille.

And yeah, it was.

Ratatouille with Ravioli

I found a little history on Ratatouille:

“The word Ratatouille actually comes from the french term “touiller,” which means to toss food. Ratatouille originated in the area around present day Nice. It was originally a meal made by poor farmers (in essence it started out life as a peasant dish), and was prepared in the summer with fresh summer vegetables.

The original and simplest form of Ratatouille used only courgettes (zucchini), tomatoes, green and red peppers (bell peppers), onions, and garlic.  Today aubergine (eggplant) is usually added to the list of ingredients.”

source: http://ratatouille.weebly.com/index.html

Ratatouille with Ravioli

Some people consider Ratatouille as a side dish, but I think serving it like this definitely elevates it to “main course” status.

  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 c. chopped eggplant
  • 1 1/2 c. chopped summer squash or zucchini
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 quart canned tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Several sprigs of fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 t. dried thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Fresh or frozen mini cheese ravioli (or your favorite pasta!), cooked. I think this would be lovely with bowtie pasta, cavatappi or tortellini
  • Shredded Mozzarella or Italian Blend cheese
  • Chopped cherry tomatoes for garnish

Ratatouille with Ravioli

Directions:

  1. Spray a frying pan with cooking spray, then heat over med-high heat on stove till the pan begins to warm. Swirl the olive oil around in the hot pan, then add the onion and sautee for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the eggplant, summer squash, garlic and bell pepper and sautee for about 3 minutes longer.
  3. Add the tomatoes in their juices, crushing them with your hand as you add them if you have large chunks of tomato.
  4. Go rinse the tomato mess off your hands.
  5. Add the bay leaves and thyme and reduce heat to medium. Cook gently, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes longer.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Now, you can enjoy the Ratatouille just like this … but to make the beautiful cheesy ravioli casserole, toss the cooked ravioli with a good amount of the Ratatouille in a casserole dish or oven-safe bowl and sprinkle with shredded cheese, and then bake at 350 until the cheese is all melty–I think I cooked my bowl for about 15 minutes or so.

Another way I discovered that I really love to eat this Ratatouille is on a bed of Jasmine rice, sprinkled with feta cheese, like this:

Ratatouille on Jasmine Rice with Feta

This recipe was shared at Katherine Martinelli’s Pasta Blog Hop.


Eggplant, Mushroom, Ricotta & Asiago Bruschetta

Eggplant Mushroom Bruschetta

My dear, dear friend brought me some of her precious rustic rosemary pepper bread … and I was SO delighted! I had seen this recipe for Eggplant Bruschetta and already had dreams of eggplant and bruschetta dancing in my mind … I just needed some rustic bread to make it happen … some days, if you make little wishes, the rustic bread of your dreams may just appear on your doorstep …

(I’m still waiting for the handsome prince wish to come true … he stopped by a few weeks ago, and we had a lovely dinner together … but then he disappeared … sigh … perhaps this is just an issue of patience. Or perhaps he’s not my prince. I haven’t figured that puzzle out yet …)

BUT I did figure out the eggplant bruschetta puzzle … I kind of made up my own eggplant bruschetta recipe … and oh my this turned out good … I think I will just revel in this bruschetta dream for a bit longer. The prince can wait.

Eggplant Mushroom Ricotta Bruschetta

Eggplant, Mushroom, Ricotta & Asiago Bruschetta

  • 3 baby lavender eggplants, chopped
  • 1/4 c. chopped onion
  • 1 large clove of garlic, chopped
  • 4 – 6 fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 t. olive oil
  • Basil vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • Rustic crusty bread, sliced … I think if your bread is not rosemary pepper bread, you might want to add some finely chopped rosemary and extra fresh ground pepper to the eggplant mixture
  • Pesto
  • Lowfat ricotta cheese
  • Shredded Asiago cheese
  • Chopped fresh tomatoes from the garden
  • Basil leaves for garnish

Roast the eggplant by spreading in a thin layer on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and lightly sprinkle with salt, then bake in a 350 degree oven about 5 minutes. Stir the eggplant and bake a few more minutes or until soft.

Coat a frying pan with cooking spray, then add the olive oil. Sautee the eggplant, onion, garlic, and mushroom briefly until the mushrooms and onion are soft. Toss with 1 – 2 T. basil vinaigrette (recipe below).

Meanwhile, lightly toast several slices of the rustic bread. Spread each slice with a thin layer of pesto, then the ricotta, then sprinkle on some shredded asiago cheese onto each round of bread. Put the bruschetta on a baking tray and bake at 400 degrees F. for about 5-10 minutes or until the asiago is melted and bubbly.

Top with the eggplant/mushroom mixture and some freshly chopped tomatoes. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Eggplant Mushroom Asiago Bruschetta

Basil Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

This dressing is so versatile … it’s great on a salad, of course, but also makes for a very quick tasty bruschetta!

I found this recipe on Farm Fresh Living when I was looking for a way to use up some of my plentiful basil (besides pesto!). I used a LOT more basil than the recipe called for. And I adjusted it quite a bit … like I always do …

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1-2 tablespoons Garlic peppercorn mustard (or Dijon)
  • 1/8 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 c. rice wine vinegar
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • Juice from 1/2 orange
  • 1 small tomato diced
  • Several BIG handfuls of basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra- virgin organic olive oil

Toss all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth.

Use a little to make your lovely bruschetta, then store the rest in the fridge for your next fantastic basilicious creation.

This recipe was shared at Katherine Martinelli’s Eggplant Bloghop.


Mmmm … Moussaka

Moussaka

When I was young, my dad did all the cooking. Mom was a registered dietician and she worked all day with food, so when she came home from work, the last thing she wanted to do was cook.

We always had a big garden and in the fall when the eggplant and zucchini came in, my dad would make Moussaka. The first time he made it, he made it with eggplant. This was back in the days before I liked eggplant, and I remember complaining about the eggplant, but then starting to eat the dish … and I found the cinnamon-spiced meat sauce and that creamy cheesy bechamel sauce on top was sooo lovely … I just ate AROUND the eggplant. One time, Dad made it with zucchini instead of eggplant … oh that was GOOD! So my sisters and I would always beg Dad to make Moussaka. He would whine a little about how much work it was to make Moussaka, but we would persist until he finally broke down and made it for us.

Moussaka is a layered Greek dish (can’t quite describe it as “lasagna”, but that’s the closest thing I can think of to it …) and I have seen it prepared many ways. Some include potatoes, some don’t, but they all involve the preparation of TWO sauces: a tomato-meat sauce and a white bechamel sauce. (I am going to show you an ingenious way to skip the work of making the second sauce which incidentally makes the whole dish much healthier as well.) And yes, Moussaka includes eggplant, but if you don’t like eggplant (or don’t have any), substitute zucchini. It will still be delicious.

So this recipe is for my dad, who taught me so much about cooking and still thinks he knows a better way to do everything in the kitchen. We are constantly “arguing” in the kitchen, but it’s not really a fight. It’s sort of like sparring in the kitchen. Sometimes one of us wins the other over to our own way of thinking, sometimes I just tell him to go away and let me do it my way! It always comes out tasting good, no matter whose method we follow … I regret I didn’t get to fight with him this day, but I am sure we will be cooking together again soon.

Moussaka

Moussaka

Meat Sauce:

  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 1 lb. of lean ground beef, lamb, or venison (I used a mix of beef and venison I had left over from my Gyro burgers)–if you like intensely flavored dishes, spice the meat as if you were making Gyro burgers before cooking it
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. ginger
  • 1/4 t. allspice
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 – 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 c. red wine (optional)
  • 1 large can of tomatoes including the juices, all whirred in a blender or food processor to break up the tomatoes
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the filling:
  • 1 medium sized eggplant, peeled
  • 1 large potato (I used several small purple potatoes from my Dad’s garden), peeled
  • about 3/4 c. whole wheat bread crumbs
For the “Bechamel Sauce”:
  • 2 c. of plain lowfat yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1/4  t. salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
And to top it all off:
  • About 3/4 c. freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • Some of the breadcrumbs reserved from earlier

Spray a large flat pan with sides (or saucepan) with cooking spray, then add olive oil. Heat the oil over medium heat till the pan is hot, then add the spices and stir, allowing them to “toast” briefly in the pan. Add the meat and cook until brown.

Pour the meat into a strainer in the sink and allow the juices/fat from the meat to drain off. There should be just an ultra-thin coating of oil left in the pan from the meat. Next, put the onion, garlic and bell pepper in the pan and sautee over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent. If you are using the wine, add the wine in and let it cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the wine is evaporated, about 10 – 15 minutes.

Moussaka - making the meat sauce

Add the meat mixture back into the pan, and then add in about 3 cups of the processed tomatoes. Cook uncovered over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced to a thick meaty tomato sauce, about 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

moussaka- making the meat sauce

Now, while the sauce is cooking, thinly slice the eggplant (I usually slice it vertically) and potato. The eggplant should be no more than 1/4 inch thick. The potato slices can be even thinner. I have to show you the lovely purple-ness of these potatoes! Look at that color …

moussaka- potatoes & eggplant slices

Spray a cookie sheet with cooking oil and place the eggplant in a single layer on the sheet. Spray the eggplant with cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 5 minutes or until just lightly golden brown on top, then flip and cook for about 5 minutes on the other side, until the eggplant is soft. If you have room you can cook the potatoes this way as well … I just threw my potatoes in a bowl, sprayed with cooking spray and cooked them in the microwave.

moussaka- roasting the eggplant

Once the meat sauce and the eggplant is done, you are ready to assemble the layers!

You can make this in a large flat casserole dish like I did or a rectangular baking pan. Spray your baking pan or casserole with cooking spray, then cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of breadcrumbs. Make this layer very thin — save some breadcrumbs to sprinkle on the top!

Top with a thin layer of the meat sauce.

moussaka- a thin layer of meat sauce

Then a layer of eggplant.

moussaka- layering on the eggplant slices

And the potato slices!

Now pour on the rest of the meat sauce and spread it flat.

moussaka- the 2nd layer of meat sauce

Okay now you can whisk together the “bechamel sauce”. Just pour the plain yogurt in a bowl and whisk together with the eggs, nutmeg and salt. (Use a fork if you don’t have a whisk.)

moussaka- making the Bechamel Sauce (the easy way)

Pour the bechamel sauce on top of the meat sauce, then sprinkle on the shredded parmesan cheese.

moussaka- topped with bechamel and cheese

And then sprinkle on the rest of the breadcrumbs.

Now bake it in a 400 degree F. oven for 45 – 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and “set” (that is, not runny, but springs back a little when you touch it). Let it rest for about 15 – 20 minutes before serving.

moussaka- all done-and-ready-to-serve

Now comes the best part!

moussaka on a fork - YUMMMM! :)

This recipe was shared at Gooseberry Patch Trip Around the World and Katherine Martinelli’s Family Recipes.


Lentil and Eggplant Stew Mole

Lentil & Eggplant Stew Mole

It’s September and stew is on my mind. Usually when people think of stew, I think they think of meat, but I have found I don’t need meat to make a good hearty stew. If you throw a few beans in with some vegies and spices, you end up with something that is not only tasty and good for you, but also high in protein and flavor.

I know some of you are afraid of eggplant. I have a friend who teases me about putting eggplant in things. She can’t stand the thought of eating eggplant. What is so scary about eggplant? Is it that it’s purple? Oh how can you scorn such a lovely hue? What is more beautiful than an elegant lavender or that dark dark purple so dark it’s almost black. What better color to eat than purple?

Usually the purple cooks out and you end up with more of a brown color anyway. In fact, it looks a lot like meat! But the taste is sublime.

I suggest if you have an aversion to eggplant, perhaps you ought to give it a try. You might discover you like it … and that would open a whole new world of taste to you.

In this dish, I even covered the eggplant in chocolate for you. Yes, chocolate. In a stew. I know it’s weird. But it’s a good kinda weird. Go on, take a bite! It’s delicious …

Lentil and Eggplant Stew Mole

Lentil and Eggplant Stew Mole

I saw this recipe on Serious Eats and thought it would be a wonderful hearty way to cook up some of my eggplant. Mole is a spicy savory Mexican sauce that is usually made with chile peppers and dark chocolate. I couldn’t find my cocoa powder, so I had to substitute chocolate syrup! It turned out beautiful though, with just a hint of chocolate aftertaste.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano + a bunch of fresh oregano leaves (or 2 t. dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red lentils
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or one 15-oz. can)
  • 3 skinny Japanese eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 lb., the recipe says)
  • Chopped tomato and cilantro, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Toss everything into the crockpot and cook on low until the stew is cooked and the lentils are soft and plump … or until you get home after the day’s activities and you are starving for something hearty and hot. That’s what I did. I let it cook from morning till about 9 pm when we got home.
  2. Serve hot over rice with chopped tomato & cilantro on top.
Lentil-Eggplant-Mole-Stew

Roasted Eggplant & Tomato “Button” Pizza

Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Button Pizza

The first time I made this, I used these cute little cherry tomatoes and I thought they looked like buttons on the pizza. This time I got to upgrade my tomatoes with these beautiful yellow pear-shaped tomatoes my friend Rynn gave me. Along with a few of the regular cherry tomatoes, they made a complete tomato festival on my roasted eggplant pizza.

This is super-easy to make.

Slice a little eggplant into very thin slices, then place the eggplant on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Spray the eggplant slices with cooking spray, then sprinkle with a little Red Robin Seasoning (or seasoned salt). Roast it in a 400 degree oven for 5- 7 minutes or until the eggplant is tender and just beginning to brown.

Sliced eggplant for the pizza

Cut up some cherry tomatoes while you’re at it for the top of the pizza.

Now take a pizza crust or a toasted whole-wheat pita bread and spread with your favorite pizza sauce.

Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Pizza-step 1

If you want, toss a few fresh herbs on the pizza, then arrange the eggplant on to of them. I went a little overboard with herbs on this one … I don’t recommend using quite THAT many.

Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Button Pizza

Top with shredded Italian blend cheese and a few goat cheese crumbles, then arrange cherry tomatoes on the top. A few toasted pine nuts on the top are REALLY good too … I forgot those on this one, but they were on my last button pizza and that sweet nutty crunch with the eggplant and tomato and cheese was SO yummy!

Bake the pizza at 425 degrees F. for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Top the pizza with a few fresh oregano and/or basil leaves.

Slice up the pizza and enjoy!

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Button Pizza

This recipe submitted to Melt in Your Mouth Mondays


Baked Eggplant Cannellini Burgers with Hummus

Baked Eggplant Cannellini Burgers

I am not a vegetarian. Admittedly, I do have a great affinity for vegetables, but I’ve never ever made vegie burgers before.

But when I saw these Eggplant burgers on the Tolerant Vegan’s blog, I wanted to make them. BADLY … it took me a few days, but I did! I tried to follow her recipe pretty closely, but I never can quite follow directions when I’m cooking.

This time I used the precious white eggplant my mom gave me. See the white one there, hiding amongst the little purple ones? I used the whole thing.  It was over a cup, but not that much.

Eggplant, the Aphrodite of Vegetables

Blending the mixture took me a while because I don’t have a food processor, just a little handi-chopper. I thought my blender would blend it TOO smooth, so I did several batches of blending … it was a messy process that I’m sure would have been MUCH easier with a proper food processor.

Baked Eggplant Cannellini Burgers

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 14 ounce can cannellini beans
  • 1/2 an eggplant (should equal about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Several fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon Red Robin Seasoning (or seasoned salt)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup hummus (I bet Basil-iferous hummus would be nice in these …)
  • 1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 T. pesto
  • tomato, sliced for topping (optional)
  • lettuce, for topping (optional)
  • red onion, for topping (optional)

Hey, why do they call red onions “red”? They are not red; they are most definitely purple!

Making Eggplant Burgers

Directions:

  1. Roast the eggplant by cutting it into 1/4″ slices and spraying each side with cooking oil.
  2. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 on one side, then flip and bake on the other side a few minutes till cooked through.
  3. Place the eggplant, onion, beans, parsley, basil, pine nuts, garlic, seasoned salt, hummus and cumin into a large bowl and stir to mix.
  4. Place the mixture into a food processor and blend everything together. This step took me a LOT longer than 15 seconds … (oh if I only had a REAL food processor!)
  5. Pour back into the bowl and stir in the breadcrumbs.
  6. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray. Form into patties and place the “burgers” on the baking pan. Nikki (the Tolerant Vegan) made 4 big burgers. I like to eat little bites of things, so I made 9 “slider size” burgers.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20 minutes on one side. Flip the burgers, then bake about 20 – 25 minutes on the other side, till nicely browned.
  8. Serve on buns (or toasted ciabatta!) with hummus, lettuce tomato, red onion and tomato.

Baked Eggplant Cannellini Burgers

Someday (when I find tahini!) I would like to try Nikki’s tahini sauce on these …

Baked Eggplant Cannellini Burgers with Hummus

Eggplant & Tomato Sandwiches on Toasted Ciabatta

Eggplant & Tomato Sandwich on Toasted Ciabatta

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction. ~ E. F. Schumacker

As school starts and we find ourselves rushing about to meet all the crazy kid schedules, I look back at the lazy simplicity of summer and wish for just a few more moments of rest. Just managing the schedule for all the activities makes me tired: the dance practices, band rehearsals, TaeKwonDo classes, choir rehearsals.

And yet I love it. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I rush from work to activity to activity … sometimes several in one night. Every night we are running to something different. By the time we get home at night it’s usually 9:00 and we haven’t even eaten yet.  And I’m too tired to cook.

That’s when I need something simple. Frozen pizza crusts come in really handy. And I confess, I do buy chicken nuggets and frozen ravioli and things like that for the kids. But mom wants something more grown up.

This is simple. And it’s grown up. It’s beautiful and satisfying and healthy. I could immerse myself in the glory of this lovely sandwich while my daughter dips her ciabatta in olive oil and eats cucumber slices (two of her favorite foods) and my son eats his frozen pizza in the basement in front of the computer.

This recipe comes from Chef in Disguise, one of my favorite food bloggers. Go look at her mini eggplant sandwiches. She will tell you how to make these little marvels of simplicity.

Really it’s so simple. All you do is put broiled eggplant on toasted ciabatta bread. I added some onion.

Broiled eggplant on toast with onions

Then put on the cheese and broil it till the cheese melts.

Top the eggplant toasts with cheese

And once the cheese is good and melty, top with sliced tomato and oregano. I used fresh oregano. She used dried. Then she added mint … mine didn’t have any mint … Her sandwiches had a top. Mine didn’t. But I think they were just fine just as they are … or rather, were.

The pictures are all that is left now …

Eggplant & Tomato Sandwiches on Toasted Ciabatta

The best things in life are nearest:  Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you.  Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.  ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Thank you, Sawsan, for sharing your beautiful recipe for simplicity.

This recipe was submitted to Cast Party Wednesday.

This is a Family Fresh Cooking Happy Post.


Lebanese Eggplant, Sausage, and Chickpea Stew

Lebanese Eggplant, Sausage, and Chickpea Stew

What vegetable is more beautiful than an eggplant? I revel in the color and beauty of all vegetables, but really, in my opinion, the eggplant is the Aphrodite of vegetables. She is the vegetable goddess of beauty–royal purple, elegant, and oh so tasty.

Eggplant, the Aphrodite of Vegetables

This Lebanese eggplant dish is supposed to be a vegetarian dish. At least that’s how it is presented in my Mediterranean cookbook. And that’s how I made it, at first. But when I tasted it, while it was delicious in its own right, I felt a little sausage would make it even better. So after the first meal of it, I cooked up a couple bratwurst, peeled them, chopped them, and tossed them in. Oh my. That was EXACTLY what it needed. I’m totally guessing on the amount of sausage to throw into the whole batch–if you want yours more meaty, throw in more. If you want a vegetarian stew, it’s lovely like that too.

This dish literally took me about 10 minutes to throw together. I didn’t make it at all like they described in the cookbook … I just tossed everything into my crock pot and let it cook all day. The smell of this dish cooking will fill your home with Mediterranean love.

I used the 7 little lavender eggplant from the picture. If only they would retain that gorgeous color when cooked! I remember it though–with every cherished bite, I remember the purple.

Lebanese Eggplant, Sausage and Chickpea Stew

Ingredients:

  • 7 baby eggplants (about 3-4 inches long), chopped
  • 2/3 c. dry, uncooked chick peas
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 1/2 t. cumin
  • 2/3 c. water
  • 1 quart canned tomatoes, juices included
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lb. low-fat sausage, cooked and chopped
  • Cooked basmati rice (other types of rice would work too … I just really love the flavor of basmati rice and it goes SO nicely with this stew!)

Directions:

  1. Toss all the chopped vegies, chickpeas, water, and spices into the crockpot. With the tomatoes, squeeze them in your hand as you add them to break them up–or whir them briefly in a food processor for a minute before adding. Stir briefly to mix everything
  2. Turn the crockpot on low and let it cook for a good 8 hours or until the chick peas are tender. Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Cook up the rice. Brown the sausage or if it’s sausage links, boil it in water, then chop and add hot to the stew.
  4. Serve the steaming hot flavorful stew over the hot rice with cilantro or parsley for garnish.
Lebanese Eggplant, Sausage and Chickpea Stew

Adapted from the cookbook: Mediterranean, a taste of the sun in over 150 recipes, by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow

This recipe was submitted to Cast Party Wednesday.


Eggplant Caprese Parcels

with Roasted Garlic Balsamic Sauce

Eggplant Caprese Parcels with Roasted Garlic Balsamic Sauce

It’s one of my favorite times of the year: eggplant season. My mother grows eggplant every year and it never fails she always has way more than she can ever use. I feel it is my duty as her daughter to help relieve her of the burden of some of those lovely purple fruit.

Oh it doesn’t help that purple is my favorite color, so I could just drown myself in the color of these magnificent vegetables.

Mom grows white eggplant, the big dark purple ones, the small skinny dark purple Japanese eggplant, and those lovely little lavender-colored fingerling eggplant. The white ones I have discovered are perfect for stuffing. They are just the right size to make 2 lovely individual meals. The smaller ones are fantastic tossed in pasta sauce, stir-fries, or made into eggplant parmesan “chips” … last year I made little breaded baked eggplant parmesan that were luscious to munch on either plain or with a dip or made into the classic eggplant parmesan.

Eggplant are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients, high in fiber, and low in calories. They are generally described as having a pleasingly bitter taste, but it really depends on how you cook them. Many recipes are designed to remove the bitterness. I think they are sort of buttery tasting.

eggplant for the parcels

This year I wanted to try something new with these precious purple eggplant. I found this beautiful recipe in my mediterranean cookbook. My eggplant are not as big as the recipe calls for, so I am making a mini-version.

Okay, really, I’m playing with my food. This made a very beautiful, tasty dish, but I need to warn you: they are a little messy to eat! Perhaps I shouldn’t have been eating them as finger food?

Eggplant Caprese Parcels

Ingredients for the Parcels:

  • Four small, long eggplant
  • Mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • Asiago cheese, thinly sliced
  • Fresh tomato slices
  • Large basil leaves
  • Long fresh chives if you have them, for tying the parcels. (If you are using larger eggplant, you probably won’t need these, but they are cute!)
  • Seasoned salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Olive oil or cooking spray
Before you start the parcels, start the garlic (for the sauce) roasting: wrap a whole head of garlic (with peel!) in aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour or until when you poke it, the cloves are mushy.

Directions:

  1. Remove the stems from the eggplant and cut each eggplant into long, thin slices. My eggplant were small, so I got 4 long, skinny slices per eggplant. Do NOT use the first piece covered with skin like I did! I thought since my eggplant were little that the skin would be tender, but it wasn’t tender enough! It’s way too difficult to eat if the slice has skin all the way across. If you want to use that piece, peel it first.
  2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the eggplant slices for about 2 minutes, until just softened. Drain the sliced eggplant and dry on towels.
  3. Take 2 eggplant slices and place them across each other at a 90 degree angle, so they make a cross shape. Place a slice of tomato in the center, season it with seasoned salt and fresh ground pepper, then add a basil leaf, a slice of each cheese, another basil leaf, a slice of tomato and more seasoning.
  4. Fold the ends of the eggplant slices around the filling to make a neat parcel. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients. Chill the parcels for about 20 minutes. While they are chilling, make the dressing.
  5. It’s hot here today, so I’m using the “broil” feature of my toaster oven. Brush the parcels with olive oil or spray them with cooking spray, then cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until golden.
  6. Serve hot, spreading a bit of the garlic balsamic paste on the parcel and sprinkling with pine nuts and basil leaves.

Adapted from the cookbook: Mediterranean, a taste of the sun in over 150 recipes, by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow
Roasted Garlic Balsamic Sauce

Roasted Garlic Balsamic Sauce

Roasting garlic like this mellows out the bite of the garlic and makes a lovely garlicky paste that is good for spreading on bread or making lovely dips. This part is my recipe … the book used a sundried tomato balsamic vinaigrette sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole head of garlic, roasted
  • 2 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 of a lime

Take the head of garlic and squeeze each clove out of the peel. You should be able to separate the cloves and just squeeze each mushy garlic clove out of the peel between your fingers.

In a handy chopper or  food processor, whir together the garlic, the balsamic vinegar, and the lime juice until it forms a nice soft but sort of thick sauce. If you want a thinner sauce, add more vinegar or lime juice.

Eggplant Caprese Parcels


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