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Eggplant Pasta Al Forno - Meatballs&Milkshakes

Baked pastas are so great because the flavors really get into the pasta and everything comes together. And it’s even better reheated the next day. This is a great vegetarian dinner too, because the eggplant is meaty and combined with a salad, it’s a perfect meal.

Eggplant Pasta Al Forno

1 pound of short pasta, such as penne, fusilli, etc

1 medium sized eggplant, cut into 3/4″ rounds

2 cups basic tomato sauce, homemade or your favorite simple bottled brand

1 cup breadcrumbs (preferably homemade)

1 tablespoon chopped thyme

1 cup grated mozzarella

1 cup grated fontina

1/2 cup grated parmesan

Saute the eggplant slices in a couple tablespoons of olive oil a few minutes on each side, until they start to brown. You may need to add more olive oil for each batch, but be careful not to add too much because eggplant acts like a sponge and will soak the oil up and release it as it bakes, making the final dish greasy.

Meanwhile, heat your tomato sauce if you have not just made it. Cook the pasta in salted water for half the cooking time on the package. It will still be chewy, but it will continue to cook in the oven. Combine the cheeses together in a small bowl.

Spoon a light layer of sauce on the bottom of a baking dish, so that it won’t stick. Toss the rest of the sauce with the pasta. Cover the bottom with a layer of eggplant and then a layer of pasta. Sprinkle some thyme and some of the cheeses over the top. continue with these layers until you reach the top of the dish. The last layer should be eggplant with the remaining cheese sprinkled over the top along with the breadcrumbs.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, or until the top starts to brown and bubble. Let cool a little before serving.

Eggplant Pasta Al Forno - Meatballs&Milkshakes

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Caponata is an Italian eggplant dip that I love for parties. It’s more healthy than most of my party appetizers and it’s vegetarian, so everyone likes it. This version has some Sicilian flavors (where the cuisine is highly influenced by its proximity to Africa), including some cinnamon, pine nuts, and currants. Red pepper flakes give it a little kick, as well. I recently made it when we had people over after a concert, and it was a big hit.

Eggplant Caponata

1 onion, chopped into 1″ dice

1 eggplant, chopped into 1″ dice

3 tablespoons pine nuts

3 tablespoons currants

1 tablespoon chili flakes

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa

2 teaspoons thyme

1/4 cup tomato sauce (your own or your favorite bottled)

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Saute the onion in a couple tablespoons olive oil until they soften. Add the pine nuts and currants. Continue to cook for a minute. Add the eggplant, sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, and thyme. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes, until the eggplant is softened. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, and balsamic vinegar. Stir to combine and allow to simmer for another 10 minutes, until all the flavors combine and cook down.

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After the crab cakes and spicy crab pasta, I wanted to make a version of crab imperial I saw on Saveur. I changed it quite a bit, and it really became more dip than main course. I will definitely be trying something like this again because it’s one of the few dips that doesn’t use sour cream or cream cheese, two things I hate. (I know, I’m weird) Surprisingly, this dip doesn’t have any cheese, but the bechamel sauce gives it a richness that might make you think it does.

Crab imperial Dip

1/2 pound crabmeat

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon flour

3/4 cup heavy cream

1.5 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce

1/4 cup Sherry

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Juice of half a lemon

1 shallot, minced

1/4 cup finely chopped eggplant

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon minced thyme

In a little olive oil, saute the shallot, garlic, and eggplant until it becomes soft, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in thyme and remove from heat.

Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, combine the flour and butter and let cook until it browns a little and becomes the consistency of wet sand. Whisk in the heavy cream and season with salt and pepper. Allow to thicken, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the crab, Sherry, Worchestershire, half the panko, paprika, cayenne, and sauteed vegetables. Stir to combine. Add the lemon at the last second and pour into baking dish. Top with the panko and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes or until browned on top. Let cool a little before eating.

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After another farmer’s market excursion, I had eggplant, tomatoes, and basil to use. Normally, I would go with a pasta with that combo, but I thought I should be responsible after the pancake breakfast I had made. So, I created these stacks and had leftovers for a couple days that only got better. I had some bottled marinara leftover in the fridge that I needed to use up, but you can obviously use your own tomato sauce or any favorite bottled variety.

Healthy Eggplant Parm

1 eggplant, sliced into 3/4 inch rounds

1 tomato, sliced

12 basil leaves

4 tablespoons flour

1 cup marinara sauce, heated

4 tablespoons olive oil

parmesan

Season the eggplant slices with salt and pepper and dredge them in the flour to get a light coat of flour on the outside. Put one tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan to coat the bottom. You will need to add more olive oil as the eggplant soaks it up. Depending on the size of your eggplant and how many slices you can fit in your pan, you may need to add more. Add the eggplant to the pan and saute for 5 minutes until browned. Flip and do the same on the other side. You may keep them warm on a baking sheet in the oven on a low temperature.

To plate, layer the eggplant with some marinara, basil, and parmesan.

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I do the grilled veggies alone all the time, and they’re great that way with just a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. But sometimes I just want something a little different. So I looked in the fridge to see what I had, and this sauce was the product of leftover tomatoes and pineapple. For a last minute sauce, it’s not bad….although maybe it would be better on some grilled fish?? Obviously you can substitute any vegetables you want, maybe onions or peppers or summer squash.

Grilled Vegetables with Spicy Tomato Pineapple Sauce

1 zucchini, sliced into 1/2 inch slices or strips

1 eggplant, sliced the same

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup chopped or sliced pineapple

1/4 cup cherry tomatoes

hot sauce to taste

salt and pepper to taste

Coat the sliced vegetables in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill on a grill pan or on a grill for a couple minutes on each side until they are cooked through. Grill the pineapple for a few minutes each side until there are grill marks but not so long that it gets cooked. Combine in a blender with the tomatoes and some salt and pepper and blend. Drizzle the sauce over the vegetables.

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