Tag Archives: eggplant

Provenςal Vegetable Tian (a magnificent summer vegetable send-off!)

12 Oct

It was a recipe I’d been saving for just such a moment. It was stuck to the fridge with a magnet, getting spotty with splashes and splatters from the sink, wrinkly from the vapors of steaming pots and sizzling pans.

The olives provide proper punctuation to the vegetables.

The olives provide proper punctuation to the vegetables.

It was one of those tear-out recipe cards from a Martha Stewart magazine, so of course the picture was luscious and perfect in that casual, unstudied, flooded with natural light, Hamptons kind of way that makes you want to chuck out all your furniture and start over with a fresh new color scheme that changes with every season so that your perfect children are filled with wonder and delight every time they come back from their posh boarding school for a long weekend with their equally perfect friends.

Ergo, when the moment came and I had my opportunity to emulate those graceful denizens of the airy heights of impeccable style in my own small way, well of course I had to seize it!

From my garden. I love this moment of the harvest season, when you realize it's almost over and therefore appreciate these flavors that much more.

From my garden. I love this moment of the harvest season, when you realize it’s almost over and therefore appreciate these flavors that much more.

Piles of late summer vegetables were languishing (I think this new world of mine needs to “languish” a lot, don’t you?) on the counter, in need of some using. And as it happens, they were just the vegetables I needed for that bloody vegetable tian Martha recipe that has been languishing on my fridge for two years like an accusation. And as it happens, the recipe was pretty easy, as long as you are somewhat competent with a knife. It didn’t require anything odd or fashionable. Continue reading

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A Mediterranean Party Snack Buffet with DIY Tahini Dressing

25 Mar

The parents have returned from their winter in Puerto Rico and that gives me a chance to make things that are a pain in the neck to do up for one adult, but seem like no work at all for a lavish spread for three grown-ups and a kid who likes couscous (especially seasoned with pesto) and asparagus. Plus, make loads and leftovers are guaranteed and you know I love that!

This sudden inspiration came straight from the pantry: jarred artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers, black olives, garbanzos from a can, that type of thing. From the fridge: feta, tomatoes, cukes, asparagus.

How fun would it be to lay out mezze (Mediterranean small dishes) with a variety of salad ingredients and sit all together for a change?

So I did and it was fun and crunchy and creamy and delicious.

“Look how pretty mine came out!” said the moms, who is a bit relieved to be eating with us again (because yes, the dad is still on that cockamamie up-and-down vegan diet that I want nothing to do with – although enabler that I am, I did make him some alternative tahini dressing with no garlic, since sesame seeds — the main ingredient of tahini — grow above ground and garlic grows under…seriously? Anyway, not worth discussing; the REAL recipe below is lovely and garlicky, as God intended)

Roasted asparagus: Rinse and break off bottoms of a 1 lb. bunch of asparagus. (They break naturally at the woody part; or break off one and slice off the rest at around the same place) Smear with two teaspoons of olive oil and roast at 450 for 10 minutes (skinny spears) to 15 minutes (fat spears). Finish with flaky sea salt.

Roasted eggplant: Rinse and cut a large eggplant into one-inch chunks (for older eggplant that feels a bit soft to the touch, put in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Put a weighted bowl on top and another bowl to catch the drippings. Leave for a half hour and pat dry before the next step). Smear with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and roast at 450 for 15 minutes or until cooked through and soft, turning once with tongs.

Garbanzos (chick peas) in tahini: Rinse and drain a 28 oz can of chick peas. Add a tablespoon chopped red onion. Add two or three tablespoons of tahini dressing (below) and serve.

Tahini Dressing

3 Tbs tahini (mixed ‘till relatively smooth)

¼ Cup fresh lemon juice

1 large clove garlic, minced fine

Pinch or two of salt

Cold water to thin

1 tsp chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Mix all ingredients except water and salt in a bowl (deeper is better to avoid splashing) or mixing cup. Salt to taste and thin with water to desired consistency. Add chopped parsley if desired. Thin for use as salad dressing. Leave it thick to use as dip for vegetables. Leave it medium dense and creamy as a sauce  sauce for falafel.

Couscous with (prepared) pesto: prepare one half cup couscous (Israeli or fine) according to package directions. Add two tablespoons prepared basil pesto (or your favorite) and serve warm.

Additional stuff: chunks of feta, black olives, halved or quartered cherry or grape tomatoes, cucumber slices, avocado and mixed greens, as desired. Try hard-boiled eggs. A drained and flaked can of tuna would be great too, with a bit of chopped onion if you are not into the vegetarian thing.

Packing the Oven: Roasted Eggplant Cubes, and Onions and Peppers

24 Sep

Here are the last two recipes for my oven-packing roasting-mania session that resulted in a couple of days’ worth of meals as I used the vegetables in several different ways. Vegetarians and vegans will enjoy the deeper flavor roasting gives to vegetables. Environmentally-conscious cooks will like the energy saving of packing the oven. And busy folks will be very pleased; once the chopping is done, the time-consuming work is over!

These are not really recipes on their own, but something great to have on hand to assemble quick meals. They also extend the life of vegetables you have too many of but don’t want to lose!

These two were especially good in my take-to-work wrap. I just slapped some hummus on a wrap, laid out some roasted vegetables, a few strips of sundried tomatoes and some of the roasted tomatoes I told you about a couple of days ago. Delicious!

Continue reading

Roasted Eggplant, Feta and Sundried Tomato Sandwich

23 Feb

Roasted eggplant and friends on whole wheat English muffin. Don't worry about the verticality; it smushes down to a reasonable, biteable size.

Take Back the Lunch (a poem)

There are those who enjoy

spending money they don’t have,

to wait with time they don’t have,

for a food order that they don’t really love,

cooked by people who don’t love them,

to choke down

during what remains of their precious lunch hour.

I am not one of those.

Are you?

Yeah your takeaway order may be tasty and juicy, but do you really know what you’re eating?

Yeah, a $6.99 lunch special may seem like a good deal, but does it tell you how special and important you are, the way a home-cooked meal does? Of course not.

So at least once this week, try to make yourself a home-cooked lunch that gives you a nutritional hug (or make enough of it for dinner that you have leftovers the next day).

I make this pretty often in winter; it’s a cross between an antipasto and a sandwich and is pretty cheap! I am admittedly not great at crunching numbers, but if I get a pound of eggplant at $3; a 1/2 lb. of feta at $1.80 (Costco bulk); and 8 sundried tomatoes at Fairway for about $2 – I’ve paid about $7 total (plus a bit for side stuff) and then I make four meals for myself out of it…well you do the numbers and tell me it doesn’t beat the bejesus out of the steak and broccoli lunch special at Asian Kitchen…

So please, please, please…show yourself some love and try this really, really, really easy and delicious sandwich/wrap thing really soon. You can skip the bread if you are watching carbs!

Roasted Eggplant  with Feta and Sundried tomatoes

1 lb eggplant (or two if you want to make extra for the week), wiped clean and sliced into ¼ inch rounds*

2 Tbsp olive oil per pound eggplant

8 oz feta cheese, sliced fairly thin

8-10 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil. Drain slightly and slice into thin strips

(optional – if your sundried tomatoes don’t come with seasonings, use a tsp or more of dried herbs – oregano, basil, thyme, or other Mediterranean flavors are best)

Wrap-style bread, pitas or hearty thick toasted bread slices

Preheat oven to 350°. Dip eggplant into (or brush with) olive oil until well-coated. Lay eggplant as flat as possible in oven dishes and bake for 20-30 minutes, turning occasionally, until eggplant is tender (I consider this a craft that is best learned by experience. Fortunately for me, I like my eggplant slightly browned, ‘cause I always seem to cook the hell out of it before it’s truly done. Don’t worry about a bit of overcooking.)

When the eggplant is done, place a layer of rounds on your chosen bread. Top with feta and sundried tomatoes (and herbs, if desired). Roll up, if using a wrap-style bread. Toast for a few minutes in a toaster oven or under the broiler and serve (reheats well with a blast in the office microwave).

*Notes: if you have time, sprinkle the slices with a pinch or two of salt, put in a colander and put a weighted bowl on top to squeeze out extra moisture – it becomes less absorbent that way – 15-30 minutes. This step is not really necessary with really tight-skinned, firm, fresh eggplant).

I do a lot of eggplant at a time and either eat it this way all week, or strip the rounds of peel and stir into hummous or just eat it out of the fridge when I need a snack. Can be chopped and added to red sauce for pasta! You can also substitute other roasted veg.

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