Tag Archives: eggplant

Easy no-fry Eggplant Parm & Garden Salsa

OK so you are probably wondering when she is going to stop writing about her damn garden; but this year was a super year and I need to use up or give away what I pick; plus the season is winding down. It is Labor day weekend, there are school buses everywhere and we are supposedly not supposed to wear white anymore – pfff I wear what I want!
IMG_3103.JPGSo this week was another one of those busy weeks but I had a plan to use up what I have for tomatoes and peppers. I came home from work on Wednesday and started chopping. Halfway through we lost power so I finished chopping by candlelight. I made a pretty large bowl of salsa with my tomatoes, green peppers, onions and jalapenos. It was pretty cool since I haven’t been able to make it in a couple of years; it was a terrible year for green peppers last year and the year before I didn’t get any tomatoes. Yeah I know I could have gone out and bought some of what I needed  but that just doesn’t appeal to me for making “homemade salsa” I have issues I know!
IMG_3094Tonight (Thursday) I wanted to use up all the eggplant that was in the fridge. This is only the second year of growing eggplant and who knew there were SO many kinds out there. I had only seen the large oblong ones from the store but mine are long and thin. Which is great for slicing up and adding them into things. I know I have shared this recipe before but it is worth repeating since it comes together fast and tastes excellent with probably the fewest iIMG_3095
I add Sweet Italian sausage basically because I love it, and I think it brings a lot to the dish and my husband won’t ask why there is no meat. I very rarely keep the sausage link as a full link. For this recipe I sliced a couple of the links into coins or minim meatballs. I do this for spaghetti sauce sometimes; or I’ll remove the casing and smash the sausage up and brown it. Either way I am all in.
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I deglazed the pan with a little leftover red wine – totally optional

 

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I put this a baggie for another use – fridge or freeze it for another day!


Mock Eggplant Parmesan

1 large or several small Eggplant(s) diced
Marinara sauce – your favorite jar
1 small Onion diced
1 package Mozzarella
2 links Sausage (optional)

Saute the onions until they sweat, add the sausage if you are using it. Cook the sausage till it is done. Add the marinara sauce, stir and then add the mozzarella. Cover and let it simmer for about 30 – 40 minutes.

Serve with a side salad and some bread

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I posted this recipe way back in 2013 wow I have been doing this a long time!


Homemade Garden Salsa

6 tomatoes (roma)- seeded diced
1 Green bell pepper – seeded diced
1 Onion – diced
2 Jalapeno peppers – seeded chopped
5-6 cloves of garlic – pressed
1 Lime, squeezed
Fresh cilantro – chopped
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
dash Balsamic vinegar
1-2 packets of sweet and low

Dice and seed the tomatoes and set aside to drain while you dice the peppers and onions, press the garlic, and chop the cilantro. Mix everything together add a dash of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and a packet or two of sweet and low.

Hint 1: you can make it hotter by leaving the pith and seeds in the jalapenos or milder by removing them before chopping.

Hint 2: By seeding the tomatoes your salsa will be less watery

Braised Eggplant – Greek Style

There were a couple of reasons I was drawn to this recipe. One is I had to use up some of my eggplant, tomatoes and green peppers from my garden, the other is it said it was “Greek style” and my husband and I will be visiting Greece in a few weeks. I figured we maybe we should try to get a glimpse of some of the flavors.
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I honestly had to look up what made this “Greek” as I wasn’t entirely sure. If you did know; bear with me for a few minutes. The spices widely used in Greek food are Oregano yeah that one surprised me too, Cinnamon I am a little nervous about this one as I have never been a fan of it in savory dishes; probably so used to it with sugar and butter I guess I miss the sweet aspect of the cinnamon. Parsley, Mint and black pepper. I am a fan of parsley and pepper; mint not so much. This will be an interesting culinary experience for us. My husband feels the same way about cinnamon and mint so at least we have that!
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I am thinking of writing my blog while I am there but since I won’t be cooking I would only be able to share what I am eating along with pictures instead of sharing a recipe.  If you wouldn’t mind I am game! 

IMG_3072Let’s discuss eggplant just a little. I just started eating it a few years ago and now I grow it in my garden. My first introduction to eggplant was when I worked at our local pizza barn. Lets just say it didn’t look or feel appealing to the teenage me.  I changed my mind when I made eggplant parmesan. The very next year I tried growing it. Oh how I have evolved wink wink!

Braised Eggplant – Greek Style
Directions – preheat oven to 400’F

1 large or a couple small Eggplant
Kosher salt
Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and diced
6 large cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes – I used my own tomatoes and added a small can of tomato sauce
2 15 ounce cans chickpeas – I didn’t have any so I used great northern beans  
Fresh parsley or mint for garnish

Dice the eggplant into cubes and place in a colander, sprinkle with some salt and let it sit and drain out some of the bitterness while you chop the rest of the veggies.
IMG_3070In a dutch oven add a little olive oil with the onion, pepper and carrots. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, cook another minute. Add the spices and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, eggplants and beans. Bring to a boil 8-10 minutes and then transfer to the oven for about 40-50 minutes.
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Keep an eye on the liquid so set a timer for 20 minutes to make sure it isn’t too dry. 
If it is add ½ cup of water – or a little of the red wine you are drinking.
IMG_3079.JPGServe alongside some warmed up pita bread if you have some on hand.


Adapted recipe  – the Mediterranean dish

Weeknight Eggplant Parm

Happy Father’s day!!!

This week I started with great intentions; which I like to think we all do; then by Tuesday everything went out the window. As you know by now; well that is if you have read a few of these weekly blogs; I love to cook and bake and I do so very often (except this week) It has been a really nice week here; weather wise so when I got home Tuesday after work I grabbed a glass of sangria went out on the back deck with a magazine and read it cover to cover. That is something pretty rare around here. We usually have so many things going on and things to do; but hey everyone deserves to relax once in awhile right?

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My daughter works a few nights a week, my son is either hanging out with his girlfriend or one of his buddies after work so a lot of nights it is just me and my husband for dinner. When we are all going to be home I really like it when we all sit down for dinner together; just like old times. Never knowing which night it could be I try to have some things in my back pocket that I could throw together for all of us. That is if I am not sitting out on the back deck with a magazine and a glass of sangria. So I finish my glass and magazine and start thinking cool we are all home what can I make. Open the fridge and there are a couple of eggplants I should get to, Oh and there is some leftover risotto that I want to turn into Arancini. OK we’ll have one or the other but I will make both. Can you see where this is heading? So I take everything I need out and get started. It’s already 6:30 OK closer to 7 by now and I think; by the time I get dinner on the table it would be 8:00 or later. Not one of my best ideas; maybe it was the sangria talking?

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The island was covered with my ingredients the clock is ticking and I finally come to my senses and pronounce let’s just have hot dogs and beans. The simple or rather known in my house the no-brainer dinner was enjoyed by all!  I spent the rest of the night in the kitchen making the Arancini and frying up the eggplant which I was finally able to assemble and enjoy the eggplant Parmesan on Friday night; the Arancini are now in the freezer to enjoy other day.

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Here is what I should have made with the eggplant being I had such a late start!

Weeknight Eggplant Parmesan

1 or 2 Medium or whatever you have on hand
1 jar of your favorite jar sauce
Half a package of mozzarella chopped
a sprinkle or two of red pepper flakes adds a little love
serve with fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese sprinkled on top

Cut up the eggplant into medium to small size chunks and place in your cooking vessel, I use my cast iron for the grill it works out great

Cover with sauce and mozzarella and then loosely with tinfoil and cook on medium low heat for about 10 minutes.

I love serving it along side some sweet Italian sausage links grilled and sliced up

 

Eggplant Parmesan – that will convert you

All through high school I worked at a local Pizza place, there were a few items that I swore that I would never try; they looked and smelled WAY too funky for me.  Here is yet another example of never say never.  Feta cheese came in a metal vat filled with what I believe was oil or a vinegar maybe.  We had to take a chunk out at a time and crumble it; the smell was horrid. Another was breaded eggplant, it just looked and felt wrong on all levels and then there was the dreaded anchovy the smell and look was just plain rancid; we used to flip to see who had to make the anchovy pizza when someone ordered it.

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Now as an adult I love feta cheese, it adds so much tart briny flavor to anything you put it on.  I love adding it to pasta salad it makes it pop. I still would not order an anchovy pizza but I do appreciate a true Caesar salad made with them and I understand why and when they are needed; I even have a can of them in my pantry as I write this.  The recipe I am going to share now for Eggplant Parmesan has completely changed my mind about the veggie and I am now open to and have used eggplant so much so, that I am thinking of planting it in next year’s garden. With age comes wisdom – or as I explain it; you have to try new food as you get older your taste buds change.

I have also used the sauce for a quick pasta sauce during the week; it has a great taste and a little kick. My mother and a friend were here visiting the last few weeks and I made this; they both loved it and wanted the recipe. My mom even said and I quote “I thought mine was really good but this one I want the recipe” I hope she is reading this and smiling…

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Sauce

2 tbs. good olive oil

2 medium onions, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic minced

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 ½ tsp sugar

2 28-ounce cans whole San Marzano plum tomatoes

Kosher salt

Eggplant

2 medium eggplants sliced ½ inch thick rounds

½ cup flour

Kosher salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

3 large eggs

1½ tbs milk

2 cups Italian style breadcrumbs

1½ tsp dried oregano

1½ tsp thyme

Vegetable oil for frying – about 1 inch in the pan you are using

12-16 ounces fresh mozzarella thinly sliced

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups sliced provolone

Slice the eggplant and sprinkle both sides with kosher salt and let sit while you make the sauce.  Place on paper towels on a sheet pan.

In a large skillet add the olive oil heat over medium. Add the onions saute for 1-2 minutes; add the garlic and season with salt and pepper and the red pepper flakes.  Saute till the onion are translucent about 6-7 minutes.  Add the sugar and tomatoes, while you are pouring them out of the can squeeze to break them up a bit. Reduce heat to medium low and cook stirring occasionally about 15-20 minutes.

Rinse the eggplant under water and dry off thoroughly with some paper towels. The reason we do this step draws out some of the liquid and removes some of the bitterness.

Get out 3 pie plates or whatever you use when you batter and fry.  Flour goes in one, eggs and milk in another and the third combine the breadcrumbs, oregano and thyme.  Make sure to salt and pepper each pie plate. Dredge each eggplant round in the flour, shake off excess. Dip in the egg mixture and then the breadcrumbs, coating both sides. Lay each round on a baking sheet in a single layer.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke lightly (between 380’ and 400’) Use tongs to add and flip the eggplant, making sure to each piece is golden brown, I like them a little extra crispy so they are not mushy.  Transfer to a sheet pan covered with paper towels.  Repeat until all pieces are fried.

Preheat oven to 350’ using an 11 x 13 baking dish

Spoon some sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Layer eggplant over sauce slightly overlapping, top with some mozzarella and the some provolone; repeat with remaining sauce, eggplant and cheeses.  Press the layers firmly into the dish. Bake until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly. About 35-40 minutes.

3 ingredient (no fuss) Eggplant

Building our patio a few years back was one of the best idea’s I pushed to get built.  Sometimes my husband needs a little nudge to start a huge project around the house – the carpenters house is never finished. I can’t truly say that as my house is awesome and more than 90% done. We were having a large family gathering and I wanted some place outside for everyone to gather. And even though he had plenty of notice he finished the blue stone patio the day before the event. 

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That’s all water under the bridge now; we have had so many gatherings out there over the years.  It is a wonderful place to talk, laugh, visit, relax and eat. On beautiful days and when we don’t have plans one of us sends the other a text to meet on the patio after work.  Some of my favorite nights are spent out there relaxing.  Keeping with the theme of relaxing, visiting and talking; dinner needs to be something that can be cooked on the grill, simply prepped and a not a lot of fuss. 

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Tuesday was such beautiful day out; I received the patio text and couldn’t wait. I was determined to make dinner an afterthought. We had some zucchini and summer squash from the garden, I had some Italian sausages in the freezer. I was thinking simple and light. My mother-in-law stopped over as I was heading out the patio with my glass of wine, and of course she joined me for a glass. She was planning on making one of her simple eggplant and spaghetti sauce dishes and had a fresh loaf of bread.  After a second glass of wine we called my father-in-law and asked him to walk over with the bread and the eggplant.

Dinner turned out excellent and I wanted to share my in-laws eggplant recipe with you all because it is 3 ingredients and NO FUSS. 

 

No fuss Eggplant

1 Medium or 2+ small (depending on how many for dinner)

1 jar of your favorite jar sauce

Half a package of mozzarella chopped 

Cut up the eggplant and place in your cooking vessel, I use my cast iron for the grill it works out great

Cover with sauce and mozzarella and then loosely with tinfoil and cook on medium low heat for about 10 minutes.

 

Squash Packet 

1-2 zucchini

1-2 summer squash

1 small onion

1 Tbs butter

Kosher salt

Fresh crack black pepper

Cut up all the squash in similar size pieces, you want them to all cook at the same time. Slice the onion and take a square of tin-foil (adjust size for how much you cut up) we are making a foil packet – I use these ALL the time on the grill and sometimes in the house.  Salt and pepper and add the butter and then fold 3 sides several times to create a packet.  They are very easy to grill; even flipping occasionally so they do not burn.  I like mine cooked to al dente so about 10-15 minutes and they are done. Leave the packet closed so they stay warm until everything else is done.

Meatless Monday

So watching The Chew several months ago; they were talking about meatless Monday’s. I pondered it a couple of weeks and then presented it to the family.  Abbi; my cohort in the kitchen was totally on board.  The guys Rich and Alex were not, they grudgingly went with us kicking and screaming – which made for an interesting adventure in trying to come up with recipes that everyone would like and be a little more supportive and at least a little excited for meals.  I will confess that when I first thought about doing this, I completely didn’t think this through entirely.  I was thinking only for dinner; it never even crossed my mind about breakfast and dinner.  That presented a whole new wedge in my thought process.  Rich is a contractor and Alex works construction with him.  Breakfast is super easy; Lunch is very difficult to come up with something yummy, filling and not a salad.   The guys pretty much eat sandwiches of some sort daily.  We have tried numerous veggie styled sandwiches; some were good enough to repeat, quite a few fell flat and will not be repeated.  I personally found it much easier for me; working in an office where I can use of a microwave to re-heat leftovers, or a veggie soup or something along those lines, I even like an occasional PB&J.

Meatless Muffuletta

4 crusty Portuguese or Ciabatta rolls – Also can use a crusty French bread

1 1/2 Tbs. Olive Oil

1 clove garlic

1 Jar Caponata

1 zucchini

1 yellow summer squash

½ tsp kosher salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

1 large ripe tomato, thinly sliced

6 ounces provolone cheese

1 Jar red bell pepper, roasted and drained

2 Cups baby arugula leaves

Hollow out some of the soft bread, so the filling fits.  Lightly brush the inside of the bread with olive oil.  Rub with garlic clove. Spread Caponata over the rolls, mashing any large chunks.

Using a vegetable peeler, pare both squash into paper thin ribbons.

Layer on bottom half of bread zucchini brush with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  Top with tomato slices, then provolone, then layer with peppers.  Layer yellow squash over peppers, then brush with oil salt and pepper.  Top each with arugula, put bread tops on; wrap each sandwich tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour (up to 24 hours) so flavors to meld.

Dinner we had a lot of fun with.  We found a delicious Eggplant Parmesan recipe and have had it several times now.  Before this; I never even purchased an Eggplant before.  While in high school I worked at a local Pizza place and I never liked the look of the Eggplant they used – It was a popular item, and I am sure it was perfectly fine it just did not look very appetizing to me.  It is so much crispier when it is freshly cooked at home.  While I thought going meatless would be healthier; we did not embrace that part of this endeavor; Eggplant Parmesan    has quite a bit of cheese and a yummy sauce.

Eggplant Parmesan

2 medium eggplant – medium slices – about ½ inch

¼ Cup flour

3 large eggs

1 ½ Tbs milk

2 Cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

1 ½ tsp dried oregano

1 ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves

2 Cups vegetable oil for frying

12 ounces fresh Mozzarella thinly sliced

¼ Cup grated parmesan

2 Cup grated provolone cheese

Handful of fresh basil leaves

Sauce

2 Tbs olive oil

1 large onion

6 cloves of garlic crushed

1 ½ tsp red pepper flakes

1 ½ tsp sugar

28 ounce Can San Marzano plum tomatoes

Prepare eggplant; lay slices in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt on both sides; let sit about an hour. Rinse and dry

I use 3 glass pie plates – use similar

1 for flour salt and pepper; 1 whisk egg with milk salt and pepper; 1 with breadcrumbs, oregano salt and pepper.  Dredge each eggplant slice in the flour, shake off any excess. Dip in the egg and finally the bread crumbs coating both sides.  Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Fry each piece till golden brown, roughly 3 minutes per side.

Making the sauce; heat the olive oil in a large skillet, add the onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper. Squeeze tomatoes into the onions. Reduce heat to medium and cook stirring from time to time until the tomatoes break down, around 10/15 minutes. Taste and season as needed.

Preheat oven to 350’

Spoon a quarter of the sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.  Top with a layer of fried eggplant overlapping the slices slightly.  Top with a quarter of the mozzarella, then sprinkle with about a third of the Parm, Provolone and basil.  Repeat with remainder of eggplant.  Press firmly into the dish and bake until cheese is melted and bubbly. 35-40 minutes.  If you like a browned top, put under the broiler for a few minutes just before serving.

I think my son was testing my food boundaries since I was testing his with being meatless one day a week.  He started requesting meals with Mushrooms.  I have never been a fan of them; it’s a texture thing and an old childhood no-no thing.  I have tried several versions of mushroom dishes; some I did not mind others; I am ALL set with.   We tried butternut squash lasagna that called for 2 cups of sliced mushrooms.  We also tried portobello mushroom burgers.  I did not care for either, the guys actually went back for seconds.  Just goes to show different strokes for different folks.