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Posts Tagged ‘eggplant’

Eggplant Tomato Hash

See that there tomata?  She was the reason I decided to make a hash.  I was going to make squash soup with the pretty little butternuts I found at the farm stand today until this gem caught my eye!

If you can wait a few minutes to chop up vegetables, this is a great way to quickly get some grub in the ol’ tummy.

  • 3 bacon rashers, cut crosswise
  • 1 eggplant (the white and purple ones), diced
  • 1/4 of a red onion
  • 1 Cubanelle pepper, cut crosswise (you can keep the seeds in)
  • 1/4 of a yellow bell pepper
  • 2 – 3 garden tomatoes or one medium beefsteak chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil (if needed)
  • salt and pepper

Render the fat from the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until the bacon is cooked and crisp.  Remove the bacon and wipe most of the fat out of the pan with a dry paper towel.

Add the onion and eggplant first.  Get the eggplant turning and browning.  Add the peppers and continue cooking, add olive oil if needed and salt and pepper.  For the last minute, add the tomato and garlic.  You don’t want the garlic to burn.  Lastly, add those crispy bits of bacon!

For those who want to keep this vegan, skip the bacon and use olive or coconut oil instead to brown the onion and eggplant.  You could add a little smoked paprika if you want a hint of smokey flavour.  I should have done that anyways.  Oh well.

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Stuffed Eggplant

By the time I pull out the eggplant the sun is well situated below the sunset position on the hidden horizon.  There are two smudges of clouds above the houses blocking our view of the edge of the Earth.

Here is what I rummaged around the kitchen to find for this late dinner:

  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1/2 cup cooked sausage
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup diced red pepper
  • 1 diced tomato
  • about 1 tsp dried rubbed sage
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated Parmesan cheese *
  • shredded jack cheese *

Pre-heat oven to 400ºF.  Place the whole eggplant in a casserole dish with 1/4 inch of water and roast for 10 minutes on each side.

Split the eggplant in half lengthwise and discard the water.  Scoop or cut out the flesh leaving some as a shell for the filling.  Dice the eggplant flesh and sauté with olive oil and sea salt.

Cook the onion until soft then add the red pepper for a minute.  Add the sausage, sage, tomato and Parmesan.  Turn off the heat and stir until the cheese is incorporated.  Mix with the rice.  Stuff the eggplant shells and top with the shredded cheese.

Return casserole to the oven until the cheese bubbles and the whole dish is hot.

* Note for Gluten-Free folks:  read labels of pre-shredded cheeses, they may contain a declumping additive that contains wheat gluten.  Usually blocks of cheese contain no gluten, it’s best to grate or shred your own cheese.

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For some reason, husbands are great steak chefs.  It must be those ancient chromosomes relating back to the first discoverers of fire and the application of fire to the hunted thing du jour.  I don’t think my steaks are bad, his are just better and I’m willing to share the kitchen to get my paws on a crusty caramelized piece of meat.  But a girl can’t eat meat on its own.

I wish I had the picture to show you: Little Sister helped create this dish, and she is 19 months old.   Don’t say you can’t cook this dish.  I sliced the eggplant and Little Sister grabbed the squeeze bottle of olive oil and dripped oil on each eggplant slice, proceeded to flip them over and repeat the process.  I followed with a light showering of sea salt.  Next was the pesto.  She helped me pick out the chunks of garlic stuck in the press and put them in the blender.  She tore basil leaves and added them to the blender.  Finally I showed her the bottle of oil and she dripped the oil as I pulsed the blender.  I dipped my finger into the bright green sauce for her to taste her work, she hummed and nodded with toddler approval.

The eggplant planks, prepared by Little Sister, were browned in a moderately hot pan.  You want to get some good caramel color, this provides a sweet counterpoint to the salt in the pesto and spicy seasoning of the skirt steak.  Definitely use the white/lilac coloured eggplants (Japanese variety or Rosa Bianca heirloom variety) this will let  you avoid the sometimes bitter taste of the dark purple eggplants.  I source mine from a local farm and they are delicious.

Basil Pesto

  • about 6 stalks of basil (good handful)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • pinch of salt to taste
  • crank of black pepper mill
  • bit of lemon juice (scant teaspoon)
  • olive oil

Put everything except the oil in a blender or mini-food processor and pulse to chop the basil.  Drizzle the oil while pulsing at first, then let it whiz.  Add just enough oil to end up with a smooth cohesive mix.

If you like it hot, kick it up with some spice like cayenne pepper or chopped jalapeño.

BTW: Happy Canada Day!

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This week I’ve been on the ball when it comes to dinner for the family.  I made this eggplant and beef moussaka the night before while roasting chicken drumsticks.  Double duty turned into a triple workload for the oven, I also made more rhubarb crumble for dessert.  Now all I have to do is heat and serve!  Hopefully this well-timed use of a hot oven will help conserve energy.  What I really want is an outdoor wood stove or oven to bake hearth breads and real pizza, but that’s a whole other topic.

Inspired by Sandra-Lee on Food Network, I baked the eggplant slices for 10 minutes before using them like lasagna noodles to build the final dish.  The Chinese (Asian) eggplants were cheap at the market, so I bought 3 of them instead of the large black-ish purple eggplants which tend to be the most bitter.  Rosa Bianca heirlooms that I buy from AngelValleyFarms are not ready yet (and I hope they plan to have a new crop this season!)

Moussaka

Adapted from this version by Sandra-Lee

  • 1 lb lean ground beef (vegetarians, you could replace this with Portobello  mushrooms)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 tsp Greek seasoning (I used Victorian Epicure’s Greek blend)
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram, fresh or dried
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon, or less, I was skeptical of using this much let alone the 1/2 tsp the original recipe calls for!
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce

Brown the meat or diced mushrooms, add the onion and spices along with a good pinch of salt. 

Drain any excess fat or oil.  Stir in all but a 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce.  Set aside. 

Coat the bottom of a 8″x8″ casserole dish with the reserved sauce.

  • 3 Chinese eggplants
  • oil
  • salt and pepper

Slice the eggplants to the same thickness so they cook evenly. 

Brush and season both sides then pop them in the oven (375ºF) for 10 minutes or just until tender. 

Set aside to cool while you prepare the béchamel sauce. 

See my previous post for making this creamy white sauce.

  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Assemble the moussaka by making a single layer of eggplant, use half of the slices here, in the sauce coated casserole. 

Add half the beef or mushroom mixture and spread into an even layer.  Sprinkle a handful (or two) of grated mozzarella. 

Layer the remaining eggplant slices and arrange them to cover the cheese. 

Add the remaining beef or mushrooms.  Pour the béchamel sauce on top and add more mozzarella if you like,

I love cheese so this step was not skipped in the least!  Bake (375ºF) for about 30 minutes until the sauce bubbles and the cheese is lightly browned.

To save the moussaka for tomorrow’s dinner, set up a perimeter around the kitchen you may want to include a fog horn alert system with a proximity sensor. 

Or let it cool, cover with foil and hide it in the back of the fridge, complete with greens as camouflage.  If your guise was successful, simply warm and serve.

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Baba Ganoush

Not wanting to leave half an eggplant to whither away in the fridge, I roasted it in the oven (since it was on for muffins at the time).  A dash of salt and garlic powder, a pinch of cayenne pepper for some heat.

baba ganoushThe obligatory tahini was added, and as usual it was too much.  Tahini might be taking a hiatus in the pantry for a while.  Baba ganoush tastes so much better at our Indian restaurants, this last attempt has decided its fate in my kitchen.

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Friday Nite Pasta

Getting home after a busy work week and having dinner ready before the cows come home is next to improbable, especially when I’m sick.  The joie de vie has been sucked out of me by an imaginary Hoover.  If I’m going to mend myself, there had to be something to eat with little effort (or brain power) to prepare it.  With my final brain twitch of the day, I took the withering eggplants from the fridge and had a glint of inspiration… pasta.  Veggie sauce with vermicelli.  Phew!  Now I’m tired!

This whole week flew by so fast, and I’ve lost a few pounds from feeling under the weather.  A few extra carbs won’t hurt today, right?  Need the energy anyways, eh?  I took a small portion of pasta and loaded up on the veggies…

See?

Don’t expect a scale reading out of me any time soon.  A girl has to keep that info under lock and key.  I’m trying to lose baby belly #2 which in reality can only be measured by the percentage of work clothes (pre-baby) from my closet that I can wear.  Comfortably.  At 11.5 months I’m half way there.  And so, the battle continues.

Besides baby #2 crawling around, I have this furry friend to contend with…

Pepper, who could almost qualify as baby #3 except for the canine part.  She eagerly watches her mama cook human food in the kitchen, her sanctuary.  And yes, I know animals should not be in the kitchen, however, Pepper stays on the floor and food does not. 

Today I think I disappointed Pepper.  We usually have some sort of meaty protein, which she lovingly gets a taste of.  Pasta and veggies didn’t sound like a treat for Pepper, but she graciously accepted a token noodle with a loud chomp-chomp-chomp.

Friday Nite Pasta

  • 4 tiny (2 smallish) Rosa Bianca eggplants, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into 1/8ths
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • about 1 cup marinara sauce
  • about 1/2 cup pasta cooking water (reserved)
  • cooked pasta, I used vermicelli

Sauté the eggplant first with olive oil and sea salt, a pinch of pepper.  Cook until just golden on each side then remove to a plate.  Cook the onion for a few minutes, then add the garlic.  Add the bell pepper and season with salt (to taste).  Add the eggplant and marinara to the pan, turn down the heat to low and simmer for a few minutes.  Add starchy water to the sauce to keep it mobile in the pan, you don’t want it to dry out. Add a pinch of oregano if you like.  Stir gently to incorporate everybody.

Put some shreds of pecorino over top, it marries well to the eggplant.  I loved this chunky pasta sauce, and the kids enjoyed it as well.  I liked eating before 7pm even more 😛

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Veggie Up, Cowboy!

After returning home very late Sunday night from the grandparents’, there were few ingredients left for dinner today.  Hubby had thawed a couple of filet mignon and requested something veggie to accompany the meat.  I took one look in the crisper and knew exactly what to make…

eggplant pecorino

Without parmesan cheese I could not call it eggplant parmesan officially, however this was darn close enough.  I used some of the huge block of pecorino we bought, shaved super thin so that a quick trip under the broiler would melt it into the eggplant and sauce.  When it came out of the oven, all I could mutter was mmmm wow, then maybe drooled a little, but not into the casserole dish mind you.  I really didn’t expect it to be so delicate and a great side dish for a hunk of beef. 

I had a biscuit (re-heated from the freezer, made from scratch last week or so) and a romaine salad along side the eggplant and bacon-wrapped filet.  All hubby could say was “wow”  and silently devoured his plate plus samples from mine (that’s love if anything in this world could be, at least for me). 

Eggplant Pecorino

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 lemon
  • sea salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 – 4 Tbsp oil
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce of your liking, I add sautéed onion and garlic
  • 1 tsp greek oregano
  • 1/4 cup pecorino cheese (Parmesan Reggiano works of course)

Slice the eggplant lengthwise so that you have long planks of flesh.  Salt one side and place salted side down on a cooking rack.  Let them sweat while you prepare the remainder.  Pour the sauce into a baking dish that will hold the eggplant in one layer.  Add the oregano and mix it in a little.  Add sautéed onion and garlic if the sauce is plain, you know what you like so add it in.  Reserve about a tablespoon of the sauce.

Wipe the moisture that has escaped from the eggplant with a clean towel.  Salt and pepper both sides of the eggplant sparsely.  Add oil to a hottish large pan, then gently brown each side of the eggplant planks.  Carefully remove the golden fleshy eggplant to the sauce in the casserole dish.  Add a bit of lemon zest and juice of half the lemon over the eggplant.  Spread the reserved sauce then a thin layer of cheese.

Toss the dish under a low broiler for about 8 – 9 minutes, just until the sauce is hot and the pecorino has given up and melted.  Keep your eye (or nose) on it especially if you only have one broiler setting (freaky hot).

You could keep the meal vegetarian by serving this with angel hair pasta instead of the filet mignon, or skip that entirely and put more romaine on your plate.  I will leave those details to you…  Enjoy!

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Eggplants have to be my new favorite “different” veggie.  Just recently, I’ve discovered how to properly prepare eggplants so that they are not bitter, but soft and buttery instead.  If all you can find are the teardrop shaped deep purple specimens, they can go from bitter to gussied up for the pan in no time.  The trick is to salt out the bitterness. 

Cut your eggplant in half, lengthwise, sprinkle on salt to cover the flesh which is now exposed.  Place the two halves, cut side down, on a cookie rack (you can also balance them on two short glasses or cans if you don’t have a baking rack).  The idea is to let the eggplant release water.  The water carries the bitterness with it.  Leave the eggplant to sweat while you make a cup of joe or tea.

Water should have accumulated underneath the eggplant by now (give them about 15 minutes).  Wash off the surfaces with just a tiny bit of running water, then pat dry.  There, eggplant ready to dice!  You can apply the exact same method to zucchini squash.

  • olive oil
  • 1 purple eggplant, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, thick slices
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 roma tomatoes, diced roughly
  • sea salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 lemon

Here is how I made this dish… Sauté diced eggplant in olive oil.  Add sea salt as you turn the cubes over.  Just as the eggplant starts to soften and has a bit of golden color to it, remove it from the pan and set aside on a plate.  Sauté the onion, garlic, zucchini, and red bell pepper until the onion and garlic are golden.  Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper.  When the tomato skins start separating from the flesh, add the eggplant to the pan again.  Adjust the seasoning if required.  Juice the lemon over everything, then turn off the heat – it’s ready!

Serve the veggies with some rice or what ever else is on the menu, today it was baked samosas.  This is a great way to get some veggies, including eggplant, to the family dinner table.

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This is a masterpiece of the Earth. 

It goes by the name Rosa Bianca, and this eggplant is the most delightful veg I have found.  There is no bitterness, only a silky wonderfully soft flesh.  This is my new muse in the kitchen.

I harvested her seeds in hopes that I can grow an army of eggplants.  A heap of them to eat and share until we are all eggplanted-out.  This means the garden will need to expand for next spring’s plants… nothing like a good workout building a garden in the back yard.  Oh well, with all this cooking going on I could stand to lose a few pounds anyways.

Sleep tight, little seeds.  I’ll wake you up in about 6 months!

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With the Texas heat here to stay, I try to keep the kitchen cool.  It’s hard to resist my brand new oven, it’s so shiny.  It calls out “please cook some more!” 

Sorry oven, I know cookies would be awesome right now, but no I can’t.  

Instead, we’ll have to make something out of the left over rotiserie chicken and the eggplant that is softening in the fridge.  A wrap sounds good!  Here’s what I grabbed out of the ol’ ice box: 

  • the eggplant, it’s a small Rosa Bianca, diced         

    Left Over Chicken Transformed

  • half a yellow bell pepper, diced
  • small Serrano pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • juice of 1 key lime
  • handful cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • salt and pepper

This is simple, just sauté the eggplant in plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.  

Add the garlic for the last minute.  When it’s soft and slightly golden brown, remove from the pan and throw in the remaining ingredients.  

Sauté to your desired tenderness, add the eggplant back in to incorporate and heat through.  Pour the lime juice over and adjust the salt to taste. 

I put the warm veggies and chicken into a tortilla with some romaine lettuce.  You could eat it on its own or even as a side dish with something else.  

 

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